Sunday, 17 June 2012

Euro 2012 - Group B

An enjoyable and fascinating evening of football to conclude matters in Group B.Although the possible permutations for qualification for the quarter-finals seemed almost endless, in the final analysis Germany and Portugal fully warranted their progression, but there were some adventures and alarms along the way.

Not surprisingly, Germany topped the group, building on the favourable impression which they created during and since the 2010 World Cup finals.  It is noticeable when watching them that there is always an option available, by way of someone to make a run or receive possession.  This team has more flair than many German elevens of the past, although defensively they may be less solid and secure.  My other reservation is whether they have the same quality in depth as, for the sake of argument, Spain.  The substitutes who Germany brought on tonight, with all due respect, would not strike fear into opponents' hearts in the same way as their counterparts in some other squads.

I am by no means his greatest fan, but Cristiano Ronaldo certainly answered a few questions this evening, scoring two fine goals, and being unlucky not to score more.   The question might be whether he is able to "carry" the team further in the tournament, as the supporting cast has not been entirely convincing.

The Netherlands have been a major disappointment, with the odd flash of inspiration failing to compensate for a lack of cohesion, drive and consistency.  Like several teams at this tournament, they are entering a transitional phase, and the newcomers could not step up to the plate.  This, combined with the failure of one or two established stars to perform to their potential, sealed their fate.

A word of credit to Denmark, who gave a thoroughly decent account of themselves, tackling a very tough group with enthusiasm and courage.  Even they would probably admit that their current crop of players is hardly a vintage one, but they gave everything, and can go home with heads held high.

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