Euro 2012 Preview: Group B

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A preview of Group B of Euro 2012, for groups A, C and D follow the links. Remember to join our free Wessex Scene fantasy league for a chance to win prizes (TBA).

Denmark

Manager: Morten Olsen. Olsen has over 100 playing caps for Denmark and has been the national coach for the past twelve years. Has the experience and pedigree to lead Denmark to a respectable tournament finish.

Key players: Nicklas Bendnter, Simon Kjaer and Christian Eriksen.

Star Player: Nicklas Bendnter. The much maligned forward has never managed to fully reach his potential at Arsenal but always been reliable for Denmark. Up for sale over the summer transfer window and his Euro campaign with determine the calibre of suitor he will attract.

Young Player: Christian Eriksen. Only twenty-years-old but, he’s the current holder of both Dutch Talent of the Year (domestic) and Danish Football Player of the Year (international). He has been courted by many of the major European clubs and this tournament provides him with the perfect platform to cement his growing reputation.

Did you know? – They originally did not qualify for the 1992 European Championships which they went on to win. Yugoslavia were excluded due to political issues handing Denmark a place.

Can they win it? – While Denmark cannot be underestimated; a group of Germany, Netherlands and Portugal makes their chances of repeating the 1992 success slim. The loss of usual goalkeeper Thomas Sorenson will also dent there chances.

Probable starting XI: GK Anders Lindegaard; DEF Lars Jacobsen, Simon Kjær, Daniel Agger, Simon Poulsen; MID Niki Zimling, Christian Eriksen, William Kvist; FWD Dennis Rommedahl, Nicklas Bendtner, Thomas Kahlenberg.

Germany

Manager: The stylish Joachim Loew first moved into the German national team set-up as a coaching assistant at the 2006 World Cup finals. Loew’s football philosophy matches his fashionable attire, with his team successfully establishing a new exciting attractive playing style.

Key players: Mesut Ozil, Mario Gomez, Philipp Lahm

Star Player: Mesut Ozil. Having established himself as one of the best attacking midfielders in the heart of Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid side over the past two seasons, Ozil, a player of flair and instinct finished the 2011/12 campaign with the highest number of assists in the Spanish league (17). His technique going forward will give defenders across Europe nightmares this summer.

Young Player: Mario Goetze.  Much has been said, and expected, of nineteen year-old Mario Goetze over the past year. Once labelled the ‘German Messi’, the Euros are a chance for the creative midfielder to shine and establish himself alongside Europe’s elite. A skilful player, Goetze’s creativity will provide the Germans with a different approach should they find themselves in need of a goal.

Did You Know? – Germany were the only side to complete the qualifying campaign with a 100% record – winning 10 out of 10 games.

Can They Win It? – Yes. With a team full of world class players and a deadly style of football, the Germans are many people’s favourites to lift the trophy – despite being drawn in the ‘Group of Death’.

Probable starting XI: GK Manuel Neuer; DEF Philipp Lahm, Mats Hummels, Holger Badstuber, Marcel Schmelzer; MID Bastian Schweinsteiger, Sami Khedira; Thomas Mueller, Mesut Ozil, Lucas Podolski; FWD Mario Gomez

Netherlands

Manager: Bert van Marwijk, the man who guided the Netherlands to the World Cup Final in South Africa, ironically only won a single, solitary international cap during his playing career. A winger who spent 19 years bobbing around the middle of the Dutch Eredivisie, has brought some grit and resolve to the Netherlands’ typically free-flowing game. Frank De Boer, Van Marwijk’s right hand man at the World Cup two years ago, spoke of the mental shift necessary for their success in that campaign, “We wanted to get into the heads of the players that we have got a mission and the mission has to be to win the cup, not to play good football.”

Key players: Arjen Robben, Robin Van Persie, Wesley Sneijder

Star Player: Robin Van Persie. After his best season ever at Arsenal, Van Persie will be looking to cap off a triumphant year of personally with an Oranje win at Euro 2012. If Van Persie can bring his domestic form to the international stage, it could be the final ingredient to take them one better than at the 2010 World Cup.

Young Player: Kevin Strootman. One to watch, the 22-year-old midfielder at PSV has superb ball retention, passing ability and exceptional vision, physical and creative; it would be a shame if some bigger names were to keep him off the team sheet.

Did you know? – The Netherlands have made the quarter or semi-finals in every European Championship since winning the trophy in 1988.

Can they win it? – Having come agonisingly close in 2010 to an international trophy, this team of superstars will be eager to prove their winning credentials, they will believe they can win this and they probably can.

Probable starting XI: GK Maarten Stekelenburg; DEF Gregory van der Wiel, John Heitinga, Joris Mathijsen, Khalid Boulahrouz; MID Mark van Bommel, Kevin Strootman, Dirk Kuyt, Wesley Sneijder, Arjen Robben; FWD Robin van Persie

Portugal

Manager: Paulo Bento. While he is only 42 years old and this is his managerial debut with regard to major international tournaments, Bento has a wealth of experience. Bento represented Portugal as a player at three major tournaments and had a decent record in charge of Sporting despite the difficult end.

Key players: Cristiano Ronaldo, Pepe, and Raul Meireles.

Star Player: Cristiano Ronaldo. After an impressive domestic season winning the La Liga title and scoring 60 goals in all competitions, Portugal will rely heavily on their skipper Ronaldo continuing his devastating form into the Euro’s.

Young Player: Nelson Oliviera. With only two caps and being only 20 years old, Oliviera can be seen as a wildcard choice. However, he offers a different option to the ageing forwards Hugo Almeida and Helder Postiga providing an option as an impact substitute.

Did you know? – Portugal has never won either the European Championship or the World Cup.

Can they win it? – They are the 5th ranked nation in the world and in Cristiano Ronaldo they possess arguably the best player in the tournament. However, they have been drawn in the ‘group of death’ with Germany and Holland, making a group stage exit the most likely outcome.

Probable starting XI: GK Rui Patrício; DEF João Pereira, Bruno Alves, Pepe, Fábio Coentrão; MID Miguel Veloso, Raul Meireles, João Moutinho, Nani; FWD Cristiano Ronaldo, Hélder Postiga

 

 

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