Probably the best night of football so far in Euro 2012, as the group of death finally gave us the level of football and competition many expected from it. Portugal came away with a dramatic win over Denmark through Silvestre Varela, while Germany all but secured their qualification with an impressive 2-1 win over the troubled Netherlands.
Denmark 2 Portugal 3
Cristiano Ronaldo had another night to forget, this time missing three times in one on one situations with Danish goalkeeper Stephen Andersen, but Portugal had enough firepower without their biggest stars, especially early on as Pepe and Helder Postiga took Paulo Bento’s side with a 2-1 lead at half time.
Denmark have Nicklas Bendtner as their scoring option, which isn’t a lot, but it always works against Portugal. It was nearly enough to put the Portuguese side on the brink of elimination, but Silvestre Varela came off the bench once again and impressed, this time making the most of the late opportunity he got, scoring the 87th minute winner.
Netherlands 1 Germany 2
The Dutch had to win it, but their defense didn’t show up in the first half, as Mario Gomez slipped away twice (actually more) to connect with Bastian Schweinsteiger assists and put Germany almost out of reach for the arrogant and disappointing Dutch team.
The Netherlands looked much better in the second half, as Van Marwijk finally accepted his lineup wasn’t suited for this tournament and made attacking changes that nearly got him the draw. It was enough only for Robin van Persie’s consolation goal, but leaves the team with a slim chance of finishing in second place.
Group B Table
1. Germany, 6 Points (3-1)
2. Denmark, 3 Points (3-3)
-. Portugal, 3 Points (3-3)
4. Netherlands, 0 Points (1-3)
1. Alan Dzagoev (Russia), Mario Gomez (Germany) – 3 Goals
2. Mario Mandžukić (Croatia), Andriy Shevchenko (Ukraine), Vaclav Pilar (Czech Republic), Nicklas Bendtner (Denmark) – 2 Goals
3. Robert Lewandowski (Poland), Dimitris Salpigidis (Greece), Roman Shirokov, Roman Pavlyuchenko (Russia), Michael Krohn-Dehli (Denmark), Antonio Di Natale (Italy), Cesc Fabregas (Spain), Nikica Jelavic (Croatia), Sean St Ledger (Ireland), Joleon Lescott (England), Samir Nasri (France), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden), Petr Jiracek (Czech Republic), Theofanis Gekas (Greece), Jakub Blaszczykowski (Poland), Pepe, Helder Postiga, Silvestre Varela (Portugal), Robin van Persie (Netherlands) – 1 Goal
What We’ve Learned
Denmark – Under the right amount of pressure, their defense suddenly doesn’t look so good, and maybe it was more luck than ability that kept the net empty in the opener against Denmark. Christian Eriksen still isn’t ready for the big stage, but their fighting spirit and Nicklas Bendtner can’t be underestimated. Will probably need more than a draw against Germany to qualify.
Portugal – Cristiano Ronaldo hasn’t really fully arrived to the Ukraine. No concentration and far from his Real Madrid form. Luckily for him, there’s plenty of talent around him, finally shining through. Paulo Bento should have realized after the first match – Varela needs to start matches.
Netherlands – The tactical approach that paved the way to a successful world cup and a nearly perfect qualifying campaign simply isn’t working, and their head coach is realizing he needs to resort to more attacking and creative formations too late. Now they need a big win over Portugal and for Denmark to lose against Germany.
Germany – That’s more like the Germany people expected to see. A tactical approach, but with enough daring and smart passing to allow their talent and creativity shine through. Their midfield taught their Dutch counter parts a lesson on the pitch in a match they should have won by a higher margin. Hard to see them messing up on the final day, with a draw enough to make them 100% safe.
Italy vs Croatia – The Croatians will probably be a bit less attacking in their approach compared with the win over Ireland, while everyone expect Italy to show a bit more daring in an attempt to get their first win in a finals tournament since Euro 2008.
Spain vs Ireland – Del Bosque has yet to give up on his six midfielders approach, and it’ll be interesting to see how the dogmatic and predictable Irish manage to handle the never ending passing on the edge of the box.