World News Today continues its preview to Euro 2012 with a look at Group B or as it is more commonly known: The Group of Death.
Consisting of Denmark, Germany, Holland and Portugal, Group B looks like being a classic.
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FIFA RANKING: 10
EURO BEST: Winners 1992
Despite finishing above Portugal in the qualifiers Denmark will be considered the weakest of the four. However, their young squad will feel capable of an upset or two. They might not be at the same level as Michael and Brian Laudrup or Jon Dahl Tomasson but players such as Simon Kjær and Christian Eriksen will be sure to catch the eye.
CHANCES: If the Danes make it out of the group Copenhagen will rejoice. Their progress from Group B would be a huge surprise and three losses looks the more likely outcome. It’s a shame for a talented squad that the draw was so cruel.
KEY PLAYER: Ajax’s midfielder maestro Christian Eriksen will be the one to look out for. Skilful, pacey and possessing devastating vision the 20-year-old is one of the hottest prospects in football.
FIFA RANKING: 2
EURO BEST: Winners 1972, 1980, 1996
Many peoples favourites to win Euro 2012, Germany look a safe bet to advance from The Group of Death. After winning all 10 of their qualifying games, Germany has flawlessly combined their famous commitment and precision with flair and artistry. The midfield has found a perfect mix with the likes of Khedira, Ozil and Schweinsteiger and the attack is one of the most fordimable in the tournament with Gomez, Muller and Podolski to choose from. However, their one weakness is their defence. Slow and lumbering centre backs may prevent them from holding aloft the trophy come July 1.
CHANCES: Expect Germany to be competing in the later stages of the tournament. A squad of great depth and quality will be a match for anybody.
KEY PLAYER: Mesut Ozil. The Real Madrid playmaker is a real star in the German midfielder. His link up play and vision is superb. Technically brilliant as well, they will look to him to unlock defences throughout the tournament.
FIFA RANKING: 4
EURO BEST: Winners 1988
Arguably the favourites for the trophy, the Dutch have put to rest their tag of perennial underachievers and now look to have mental toughness deeply entrenched in an already immensely talented squad.
CHANCES: Just like Germany, expect them to go far. There is no reason why they can’t win it for the first time since 1988. Their squad is as good as any and they will be spurred on by their defeat in the World Cup final two years ago.
KEY PLAYER: Holland will be looking for many key players too shine. Much depends on the artistry and flair of Wesley Snejder and Rafael van der Vaart but the key man is forward Robin Van Persie whose goals could fire Holland to the tittle.
FIFA RANKING: 5
EURO BEST: Runners-up 2004
It all depends on what Portugal turns up. Will it be the one who stuttered in qualifying? The one that has been abysmal in their warm up matches for Euro 2012? Or will it be a Cristiano Ronaldo led charge? To say Portugal have been hot and cold over the last few years would be an understatement.
Despite being ranked fifth in the world they are still outsiders to make it out of the group. However, Portugal thrive on confidence. A good start in the group could propel them to greater things.
CHANCES: It is hard to see them overcoming Holland and Germany but on their day Portugal are more than capable of being a match for the two super heavy weights in the group. However, expect Portugal to crash out in the group stages, the manger fired and discontent among players and fans alike.
KEY PLAYER: An easy choice. The best player in Europe, Cristiano Ronaldo. On his day he can tear any team apart but he is known to go missing in the big games. A lot rests on his shoulders if Portugal are to progress.
It is hard to look past Germany and Holland as the two to progress but it is more than conceivable that Denmark or Portugal could qualify. By far the hardest group and it looks set to be a cracker.
Saturday 9th June
Wednesday 13th June
Denmark v Portugal 17:00
Netherlands v Germany 19:45
Sunday 17th June
Portugal v Netherlands 19:45