Every major footy tournament has it, every team that competes at the highest level hopes to avoid being a part of it … it’s the dreaded group of death aka Todes Gruppe aka Gruppo Mordo aka you are screwed. In the case of Euro 2012, Group B fits this description. All four teams are among the top 10 according to FIFA’s world team rankings: The Netherlands only lost to Spain in the last world cup final; Germany finished 3rd that year and 2nd in Euro 2008; Portugal have Cristiano Ronaldo, and Denmark finished atop their Euro qualifying group even beating out Portugal. With all that talent come high expectations, especially for group B favorites Germany and Holland.
While Germany eked out a win vs. Portugal with a 70+ minute goal by striker Mario Gomez, and some amazing defense, Holland was not so lucky in its 0:1 defeat against major underdogs Denmark. Lots of money was surely lost on that final score since a majority of ‘experts’ picked Holland to at least manage a draw. Even ‘Dude-stradamus‘, the Euro 2012 canine prognosticator, got that one wrong. Does the Oranje’s defeat have them seeing red for the rest of the tournament or can they recover to still claim a spot in the elimination round? I still think they will prevail but the dominance Bert van Marwijk’s team displayed last world cup and even during their Euro 2008 campaign could well be over. Captain van Bommel is over the hill and dancing at his last wedding and the defense has ’disaster potential’ written all over it. On the upside, the offensive options are plentiful — the Bundesliga’s top goal-getter Klaas Jan Hunterlaar sat on the bench vs. Denmark because of Holland’s talent upfront with RVP (Robin van Persie).
Also changing, is the dynamic of the German squad which is getting younger by the minute and represents the youngest of the 16 Euro countries. With 26 year old Marion Gomez replacing 34 year old Miro Klose as the starter in Germany’s attack, and 23 year old Mats Hummels doing a phenomenal job playing for oft injured/out of form defender Per Mertesacker (27 years), the German lineup debuted against Portugal may be here to stay. I found it ironic that Germany’s defense which has often been criticized and picked on by opposing teams such as Switzerland a mere two weeks ago, saved the day against the desperate yet dangerous Portuguese. For Germany, Holland is next. A win secures them a spot in the elimination round while a solid performance by the Dutch, which I anticipate, gives them a new lease on life as they look to rebound from yesterday’s ‘Dane shock’.