Netherlands 0-1 Denmark
The first shock and one that the Danes richly deserved.
The Dutch have some serious problems that they are going to have to work on fast. The defence is rickety, too easily letting Krohn-Dehli in for the goal, and a better offence, like Germany and Portugal, will get more goals of they play like this. The Dutch midfield was dominant but struggled to make good opportunities, especially as the second half wore on. The forward line failed big time, notably Van Piersie though Huntelaar was no better when he came on) with Robben delivering a succession of dreadful balls in the second half.
The Danes, for their part, got better and better as the game went along. Anderson, in goal, is a bit dodgy and the defence does have gaps, gaps that the Dutch were unable to really exploit. A better team might. They choose to cede the midfield battle to the Dutch for the most part, and the back line was top class in the final 20 minutes with the added support of those midfield players. The goal was well taken, and the Danes did not stay completely back, and could have added to their tally if the final ball was a bit better.
The Dutch need to beat Germany now, a very difficult prospect if the team is playing like this. The Danes have a huge result to leap out from, and have seen their chances of advancing get much better. If they play like this against Ronaldo and company, they should get something.
Germany 1-0 Portugal
A very disappointing contest, but the expected result.
Both teams were mediocre throughout, a lot of bad passing, aimless balls forward, a lack of creativity in the final third. It’s more surprising for Germany who should be a slicker outfit then this. Portugal were uncharacteristically defensive, and have done nothing to convince me that they are potential tournament challengers.
Seemed like it was going to be a fiery game in the opening few minutes, the moronic actions of a few German fans adding to a few rough tackles being thrown around on the pitch. But it all simmered down and the rest of the first half was an anti-climactic kick about, save for a few frantic moments at either end, such as Pepe’s goal line shot.
The second half was a little bit of an improvement, but not by much. Germany got the goal, a really great header from Gomez from a decent cross. Huge amount of power in it, well directed. Only then, by necessity, did Portugal come out of their shell, and they got the chances they needed to level it, but failed to take them. Ronaldo, the star man, was uninspiring and marked out of most of the game by Boatang. Subs Varela and Oliveira were not the men to change that late on. With that, Portugal were half the team they usually can be. Neuer seemed a little bit nervous at times, but this Portuguese attack rarely looked like taking advantage.
Germany need to improve something’s and go into an intriguing contest with the Dutch. If the Netherlands’ defensive problems are not fixed, Germany should win it, but on the basis of this performance, the Germans might have to settle for a point. As for Portugal, they will not be relishing the “easy” tie against the Danes after today. Denmark will likely replicate the tactics they used today, knowing that Portugal must attack, and attempt to catch them as they caught the Dutch with a well-disciplined, goal-poaching performance.