Euro 2012: Matchday Ten (Group B)

Portugal 2-1 Netherlands

The big shock, and it was coming.

From being second best in the world two years agp, the Dutch have become a team that have lost all three groups in their next major tournament. The Portuguese are not a great side, not really, but they had more the n enough in the tank to best this Dutch outfit, a team that exerts little presence on the game, that struggles to rectify losing situations, that does not seem to have much of a clue (or a care).

Van der Vaart’s goal was taken really well, but promised more than the Netherlands could really offer. Portugal were on top for nearly the rest of the match, and Ronaldo’s two goals were the result of sustained pressure, just a brace of chances that were taken from the multitude that they had. They attacked with grace and precision, and really should have had more. Ronaldo has finally stepped up, and will need to keep doing so if they are to go any further.

As for the Dutch, they argue, they can’t make really effective attacks, they just don’t like seem like the kind of team that can qualify from a group, let alone win this tournament. Another golden generation is going to waste in the Low Countries and I am at a loss to figure out what they can change. They have numerous high-class individuals, but have no team worth talking about. Out and deservedly so.

The Portuguese can look forward to a quarter final, perhaps more then they deserve, thanks to the failings of…

Denmark 1-2 Germany

A fair result, considering the dominance of one team.

For Germany it is a perfect group, the only team in the group stages to have come through the opening three games with a 100% record. Considering the opposition that they faced, this is no mean feat. Denmark put it up to them at times, but the Germans have an inner class that shines through (in a way that it so plainly does not for the Dutch).

Both of their goals, as was typical of Germany, were well worked and well taken. Dominant in midfield and prestigious down the right flank, Denmark struggled to contain the German threat, and Bender’s winner was a surprise only in that it took so long to come. Denmark flattered themselves by keeping the score level for so long, and their lack of attacking impetus has cost them dearly. Relying on the Dutch for a result, in this tournament, was not the way to go. Despite playing some good football in the opening two fixtures, the Danes are headed home.

This is not an unjust situation. Grabbing a win against the Netherlands looks less impressive with hindsight, and the Danes lacked the will to see a draw out with Portugal. The big test was against the Germans, and it was a test that the Danes did not seem especially interested in.

Germany have frequently looked like a team operating in second gear for this group, not unduly pressed by Portugal, the Dutch or the Danes, more than willing to just put in routine performances with occasional flashes of true brilliance. Worthy winners of Group B. Now they face into an unexpected grudge match, against the defensive shell of Greece. That is not a game that I am comfortable judging. Portugal face the Czech’s, a very evenly matched contest, between two teams that could well be among the worst to have qualified for this stage.

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