Cristiano Ronaldo answered the critics by scoring his first two goals of the tournament, as Portugal took care of the Dutch and left the Netherlands with a shocking 0 points and a humiliating exit for Euro 2012, while Germany, as expected, beat Denmark to finish the group of death with 100% and the top spot.
Portugal 2 Netherlands 1
Berj van Marwijk listened to everyone, and did exactly what was asked of him – Putting in Huntelaar and getting rid of Mark Van Bommel, putting aside nepotism in favor of a more attacking flavor with Rafael van der Vaart. It worked for a short while, as Van der Vaart repaid the confidence with a wonderful opening goal, but a terrible match from Robin van Persie and Van Marwijk himself sealed the deal.
Portugal took over the midfield with Joao Moutinho and Miguel Veloso delivering the kind of performance many expect them to produce each time they’re together on the pitch, while Cristiano Ronaldo finally found the net – first after a fantastic Joao Pereira assist and later in a trademark finish from a lightning quick counter attack.
Van Marwijk went bananas in his attempt to grab the winning goal and sacrificed the match by leaving the Dutch with three defenders, none of them faster than the Portuguese attack, built to perform at best when counter attacking. It didn’t end well for him and his team.
Denmark 1 Germany 2
For a few minutes, Denmark were in the quarterfinals, after Michael Krohn-Dehli scored his second goal of the tournament. Thought of a new deal were also in the air, as Germany were pressing Denmark, but not at their hardest, knowing a draw was enough. Denmark tried to counter, but there just wasn’t enough for them to turn the tide.
Lukas Podolski became the youngest European player to reach 100 caps for his national team, celebrating with his 44th goal for Germany to open the scoring after what has been a disappointing start to the tournament for him. Lars Bender finished the job so any thought of conspiracy would blow over, and give Germany the only 100% group stage record in the tournament.
Final Group B Table
1. Germany, 9 Points (5-2)
2. Portugal, 6 Points (5-4)
3. Denmark, 3 Points (4-5)
4. Netherlands, 0 Points (2-5)
1. Alan Dzagoev (Russia), Mario Gomez (Germany), Mario Mandzukic (Croatia) – 3 Goals
2. Andriy Shevchenko (Ukraine), Vaclav Pilar (Czech Republic), Nicklas Bendtner (Denmark), Cesc Fabregas, Fernando Torres (Spain), Petr Jiracek (Czech Republic), Michael Krohn-Dehli (Denmark), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) – 2 Goals
3. Robert Lewandowski (Poland), Dimitris Salpigidis (Greece), Roman Shirokov, Roman Pavlyuchenko (Russia), Antonio Di Natale (Italy), Nikica Jelavic (Croatia), Sean St Ledger (Ireland), Joleon Lescott (England), Samir Nasri (France), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden), Theofanis Gekas (Greece), Jakub Blaszczykowski (Poland), Pepe, Helder Postiga, Silvestre Varela (Portugal), Robin van Persie (Netherlands), Andrea Pirlo (Italy), Davis Silva (Spain), Jeremy Menez, Yohan Cabaye (France), Andy Carroll, Theo Walcott, Danny Welbeck (England), Olof Mellberg (Sweden), Giorgos Karagounis (Greece), Rafael Van der Vaart (Netherlands), Lukas Podolski, Lars Bender (Germany) – 1 Goal
What We’ve Learned
Portugal – Not just counter attacking, but generally a very good match from a side that gradually improved with every match in the group stage. Their midfield is stronger than some believed if Moutinho and Veloso show up, while Cristiano Ronaldo got to shut some people up with a fantastic double.
Netherlands – Saying the Dutch are the disappointment of the tournament is an understatement. Van Marwijk lost control of his players it seems, and the players, which is nothing new with a Dutch team in a big tournament, didn’t exactly come together with one goal in mind. A complete and utter failure.
Denmark – Gave what they had, and probably surprised quite a few people by actually coming away with one win in this group. A decent defense and a stubborn mentality, but you need more speed and skill to be an effective counter attacking team, which Denmark didn’t have enough of.
Germany – Nothing new from the Germans who dominated the match from top to bottom, probably winning back Podolski after a rough start to the tournament, which simply makes them much more versatile and dangerous when attacking.
Croatia vs Spain – In general, a draw for both teams would be enough, but if Spain field a striker like against Ireland, it should be enough to get the expected win.
Italy vs Ireland – If Italy win by at least three goals, even a Spain-Croatia draw deal like the one the Italians remember from 2004 won’t be effective in stopping them from making the next stage. Ireland will fight for their honor with the limited tools they have, and it’s hard imagining this Italian team scoring three goals.