Euro 2012 Team Profiles
The group of death tosses up three of the most potent teams in attack in Europe at the moment. It would have been really mind-blowing if Portugal still had their players from the “golden generation.”
Everything seems to be poised for Germany to win their record fourth title. They have their best crop of young talent in years, and their best team on paper since 1996. The Klinsmann intervention in the mid 2000s really paid off in the long term perspective. The team he managed at the World Cup in Germany ‘06 were attacking, talented, but still raw. Jogi Loew has improved on the Klinsmann model and it showed in the subsequent tournaments. Now we have a German team that still plays the power football characteristic of Die Mannschaft, but with a plethora of technically gifted players. That’s a scary thought. Poldolski, Mertesacker and Schweinsteiger are still all in their 20s but are the senior figures in the team. Manuel Neuer is one of the best keepers in the world currently. Plus they have a lot of youngsters with buzzing skill like Ozil and Goetze. And if you aren’t swayed by the team’s impressive CV consider that Germany have always went on to win the Euros after placing as runners up in the previous edition. The disappointment of the Champion League final could prove to be the psychological factor that just might affect the team in the latter stages. Especially if Germany becomes as profligate as Bayern was when it really mattered.
The current “platinum” generation doesn’t exactly have the character of Figo and co. years before. What’s worse, is that they still lack a striker who can deliver at international level. Their midfield and assorted advanced wingers in particular will be burdened with the responsibility of scoring the goals. Portugal has a heavy reliance on Cristiano Ronaldo who is their best hope for goals in Poland/Ukraine. However the Real Madrid record-breaking goalscorer hasn’t replicated his form at international level for quite some time now. And judging from Portugal’s warm up friendlies, their defence needs some work as well; thus thickening the plot. It is going to take a mammoth collective effort from the team ranked 5th in the world. (which says a lot about the credibility of a system that gives points for meaningless friendlies.) This may be the hour for CR in particular to finally live up to the hype he gets from the his exploits in the club game. If he doesn’t, an Iberian nation may be in agony at the end of the group stage.
The Dutch again come into another tournament as the favourites, and again we have our fingers crossed that they live up to that billing. It seemed they were well on their way in 2008 when they thrashed both of the 2006 world cup finalists in their first two matches four years ago. They crashed out against the Russians in the last eight. In South Africa they were inches away from the cup when Iniesta and Spain snatched it from them with both hands. The real disappointment in 2010 was that Holland didn’t play their typical flowing “Total Football” attacking brand - they preferred the pragmatic approach. After their 6-0 victory over albeit an average Northern Ireland team last weekend, they seem to be ready to return to the international stage with their sexy football. Their history with Germany is noteworthy as well. Every time the two met at the Euros or the Wcup, one or the other has made that edition’s final. They’re also familiar with the Portuguese who they lost to in their Euro 2004 semi final as well as the brawl at Nuremburg. With Wes Sneijder, Robben, RVP, Huntelaar and Afellay seemingly peaking at the right time, let’s see if the future is finally going to be Orange.
Denmark should not be overlooked in this brutal group. Yes, they’re the underdogs, but they also won their qualifying group (at the expense of Portugal). They do still have the experienced players at critical areas of the pitch; Agger in defense, Poulsen in midfield and Rommedahl with Bendtner in attack. Then there is the revelation in attacking midfield; Christian Eriksen of Ajax. This may be a challenge too far for the Scandinavians but it is very likely that they will create a couple upsets and determine which of the other three doesn’t make it to the knock out stages.
GER - 85%
NED - 80%
POR - 73%
DEN - 40%