By Mike O’Brien
Denmark V Portugal
The early game on day six of Euro 2012 will be giant killers Denmark taking on Portugal for whom anything but a win could be disastrous for them.
Denmark received a lot of plaudits after overcoming World Cup finalists Holland in the first game in Kharkiv. But I have to question their tactics in that game. The first day of the tournament gave us two games with attacking teams who produced terrific and entertaining football, so I was a little disappointed to see Denmark go defensive and hope to hit Holland on the Counter attack. Obviously it worked and from a Danish point of view that’s all that matters but as a neutral fan I felt their victory wasn’t such a big achievement after all. That being said, several of their players impressed against Holland and I felt that if they had a striker with more quality than Nicklas Bentner then I could see them being very dangerous on the attack with players like Michael Krohn- Dehli and highly rated youngster Christian Eriksen.
Denmark’s opponents today are Portugal who crashed to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of one of the tournaments favourites Germany. But the game failed to live up to the hype and Portugal were on the back foot for the majority of it. Key players in the Portugal side like Ronaldo and Nani were kept relatively silent and never posed too much of a threat. Attacking wise they looked weak but they were impressive defensively limiting Germany’s many attacking options.
So on a whole this match could be very interesting with two teams who gave impressive defensive performances in their first game but both appeared weak going forward. I envisage a draw from this game and unfortunately I don’t see it being very entertaining. Should this happen however it will pile a lot of pressure on Holland in the late game.
Netherlands V Germany
The late game today will be the renewal of one of international footballs biggest rivalries. No team scored more than Holland and Germany in qualifying and the two were both being tipped to do well in the tournament. Pre tournament I tipped both these sides to reach the final but Holland’s loss to Denmark made that quite difficult to come true.
Holland actually looked very impressive in their first game. Despite being unable to find the back of the net they had four times the amount of attempts on goal than Denmark but out of their 32 attempts, only five were on target and they’ll certainly have to improve that form when they line up against the ever dangerous Germany tonight. The big problem for Holland in the first game I felt was the lack of performance from big players like Robin Van Persie and Arjen Robben. Robben looked fantastic on the ball but his final shot was awful whereas Van Persie looked like a totally different player than the one who has scored 40+ goals for Arsenal last season.
Germany may have come away with three points against Portugal but they certainly never lived up to my expectations. I feel a major mistake they made was playing Thomas Muller and Lucas Podolski out on the wings. Both are great strikers and I think part of their problem was being played out of position. Since Holland appeared fairly weak at the back against Denmark I think if Germany play a combination of Mario Gomez and either Podolski or Muller they will cause a lot of problems and eventually find the back of the net.
This is a difficult one to call, if Holland’s big players are on form then they have a good chance at walking away with all three points but I think that on reflection, Germany coach Joachim Low will acknowledge his error in the first game and revert to a two man strike force which will terrorise the Dutch. I’ll go for a 2-1 victory to Germany putting them top of group B and if my other prediction is accurate then it will officially eliminate Holland from the tournament.
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