Posts Tagged ‘Portugal’

Germany ensured that they survived the group of death, and progressed to the quarter finals, with a 2-1 victory over Denmark.

The win means Germany finish as group winners, while Denmark join Netherlands in making their exit from Euro 2012, although with more pride intact than their Dutch counterparts.

After putting an early chance over the bar, Thomas Müller turned provider for the first goal of the game.

He fizzed a ball into the feet of Mario Gomez, but the Bayern striker – who already has three goals this tournament – miscontrolled it. However, that was all part of the script as the ball fell to Lukas Podolski, who was left with an easy finish and a goal to celebrate his 100th international appearance. (He’s only 27!)

The Danes were back level soon after though, with Nicklas Bendter rising to head a deep corner back towards goal, and that was met by Michael Krohn-Dehli who was able to nod the ball past Manuel Neuer.

Germany continued to push for a winner in the second half, going close through Gomez. By this point I was struggling to keep up with who could go through and how, and was sick of hearing the word ‘permutations’, which I’m not sure anyone had ever used before last night.

It could have all been different for, well, everyone in the group (except Holland, who continued to be a bit rubbish) had the referee decided to award a penalty and send-off Holger Badstuber when he appeared to pull back Bendtner in the box.

He didn’t, however, and minutes later a quick break led to Mesut Özil playing in the impressive stand-in right back Lars Bender, who finished coolly to put the game – and the group – beyond any doubt.

Germany will now face Greece, a side Joachim Löw described as “very hard…it’s like you’re biting on a rock,” for a place in the semi final. You can make your own jokes about the Euro/Euros etc in the comments box.

Löw, speaking to Uefa.com, said: “The match was very difficult, as expected. In the first half, we had an opportunity to open up a good lead; we missed three or four chances to make it 2-0 or 3-0. Then, from a standard set piece, Denmark levelled. After that, it became harder. In the second half, we controlled the match, looked after the ball and played with real maturity. Three or four years ago, we wouldn’t have won this. But on 60, 70 minutes, all those technical players we have who can take control of the ball stepped up.

“Denmark play with real calmness – they play like they don’t care about winning, sitting back, and then they hit you on the break. They pass the ball back and forth. I never got the feeling they wanted to win; I felt they were happy to keep it level and hope to get a set piece and score from that.

“While I was aware of what could happen, I always felt we would get the second goal. Today was the first decisive game of the tournament, but we did the job and qualified with nine points – a great performance, even if there’s still room for improvement. In midfield and defence, we maybe allowed too much space; we could have closed them down much earlier to avoid allowing Denmark to take the pace out of the game. Greece will be the same, so we need to tighten up.

“I’ve never played Greece and now it’s time. No one thought they would make it as Russia had been so strong. I think they’ve had three or four chances at this tournament and scored three goals; they’re masters of efficiency. They’re hard and great at the back, strong in the tackle; it’s like biting into a rock.”

Germany will not be taking anything for granted as they look to secure their passage to the last-16 of Euro 2012 in their game against Denmark tonight.

The Germans top the group after winning both of their opening games – the only team in the tournament to do so – yet qualification is still not guaranteed.

If Portugal beat Holland, and Denmark win 2-1, then Joachim Löw’s men will surprisingly exit the competition.

Löw, speaking to Uefa.com, said: “We have not qualified yet. It will be a tight, difficult match as Denmark too have hopes of reaching the last eight. Those who saw Denmark as outsiders before the tournament were wrong; we always knew they would be a threat as they’re compact and dangerous on the break.

“We will not underestimate them and I’ll not be letting anyone have a day off. If I make changes it will be because it’s beneficial for the team.”

Germany will be forced into making at least one change from the side that has won both opening games, with full back Jerome Boeteng suspended. He is likely to be replaced by either Benedikt Howedes or Lars Bender, although there is also the possibility captain Philipp Lahm could switch to right back.

Other changes to the starting XI seem unlikely, given both their form and what is at stake, but there is always a chance Löw will decide to rest some of his key players, with the likes of Miroslav Klose, Mario Goetze and Marco Reus all hungry for a chance.

Whatever the line-up, it would be a major upset for Germany to lose this one. While stranger things have happened, my money would be them not only qualifying, but doing so as group winners.

Prediction: Germany 2-1 Denmark

Germany put an early nail into Portugal’s coffin with a 1-0 win in the opening round of fixtures in the ‘group of death’.

A Mario Gomez header was enough to hand the nationalmannschaft victory, as they cemented their billing as favourites to top the group.

It was Portugal who fired the first warning shot though, serving as a reminder that they were anything but underdogs. Fabio  Coentrao wove through the German defence, although – as has often been the problem for 2004s runners-up – he had no end product.

Mario Gomez and Lukas Podolski both had half chances for the Germans, before the former actually put the ball in the net. However, play was brought back for a foul on Mesut Özil, and the resulting free kick could not replicate the goal they’d been denied.

Germany’s focus was on the counter-attacking and quick transitions that had served them so well at the World Cup two years ago, with Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira – now aided by Dortmund defender Mats Hummels – linking up defence and attack to good effect.

However, while they enjoyed plenty of possession, with Podolski and Özil looking in particular lively, the failed to carve out any real chances.

That was almost punished on the stroke of half time, when a corner fell to Pepe. He curled it towards the top corner in a strike you wouldn’t normally associate with the no-nonsense, oft-insane defender. His shot bounced off the underside of the bar and onto the line. Despite Portuguese protests, it was deemed not to have crossed the line – which TV replays proved to be the correct decision.

Germany came out quickest after the break (figuratively speaking, I actually have no idea which team was back on the pitch first), with Thomas Müller causing problems down the right.

For Portugal, while Pepe went close in the first half, it was the other two-thirds of their Real Madrid trio – Coentrao and, more pertinently, Ronaldo – who looked the most likely to make something happen.

It was Jerome Boeteng charged with stopping the world’s second best player, and he managed to do so twice in succession – albeit in very different ways. First, a brilliant challenge; second, he had to resort to harsher methods, picking up a yellow card in the process.

It was, though, the Germans who took the lead with a goal scored in Ukraine, but made in Munich. Schweinsteiger’s deflected cross was met by the head of Gomez and, as he did 41 times for Bayern last season, he found the net.

That was to be Gomez’s last contribution, as Joachim Löw sent on birthday boy Miroslav Klose.

It may have been Ronaldo who looked the most dangerous (no mean feat for a player who seemingly changed his hairstyle at half time), but it was 20-year-old Nelson Oliviera who had the best opportunity to equalise. He latched on to Ronaldo’s pull back across the box, only to be denied by the imposing figure of Manuel Neuer.

Germany held on to claim an all-important victory, in a group where one win could be enough to see a side through.

After a game with the 10th best side in the world (according to FIFA, anyway), you’d think things might get easier. Their next game: Holland, ranked 4th. Although in fairness, against Denmark they were just rank, and Germany will not be losing any sleep over the prospect of facing Oranje.