There is always one isn’t there – a group at a major football tournament that pulls together three or four of the big-guns in the same group. Well, Group B has been given that honour this year and is set to provide some mouth-watering clashes between Germany, Portugal, Netherlands and, poor old Denmark.
The look on the faces of each of the countries representatives when the draw was made said all that needed to be known on their opinions of having drawn the “group of death”.
The action all kicks off on June 9 with Netherlands taking on Denmark and Germany playing Portugal, which is without doubt the standout of the entire eight first group matches across the competition.
It is thought that the results of the first games will be crucial in the way in which the group will play out. It seems as though the loser of the Germany v Portugal game will have a bit of a mountain to climb in order to qualify from the group with the Netherlands lying in wait over the following weeks. There is unlikely to be any punches held back either in the quest to top the group as the runners-up, although having a relatively easy quarter-final game against the winner of a rather weak looking Group A, will have to play reigning Champions Spain in the semi-finals. A tie they would not want until the Final.
This added carrot to finish group winners will not be lost on the shrewd German manager Joachim Low, who will make sure his side are in full-flow in the opening games to cement themselves at the top of the pile. The World Cup semi-finalists are also a team who are improving game-by-game, with the likes of Real Madrid pair Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira, adding plenty of variables to their game since moving to La Liga.
They should have too much in the locker the dismantle one-man-team Portugal, whose reliance on Cristiano Ronaldo, seems to affect his performances on the international stage, and then it will probably come down to a group winner decider with Netherlands in their second game. That game has draw written all over it, but it is the firepower in the German ranks that could prove crucial when it comes down to goal-difference between them and the Dutch.
This exciting young German side are real contenders for outright glory, and have the ability to blow any team away in world football. They eased through the qualification process with 10 wins out of 10 against Turkey, Belgium, Austria, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, and it’s with a pretty confident tone that we rate them as good things to top another group this time around.
A shade of odds-against can be found (6/5 Sportingbet) for Germany to win the group, which in our eyes still represents a tasty bit of value.
Holland (2/1 to win Group B) will no doubt have their followers and it’s hard to argue with the talent that they bring to the table.
What they do lack however is their ability to keep it tight at the back which may cost them when they face the Germans in that blockbuster of a match in the second round of fixtures. Although Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie may have something to say about that.
It’s hard to make a case for the Portuguese to top the group as they rarely looked like sparkling in qualifying and even lost to Denmark, who will fancy the chances of picking up their scalp once again.
Of course, Ronaldo could turn it on when it matters, but even the 9/2 on them winning the group looks too short.