Group B at the European Championships has been ominously tagged as the “Group of Death,” and in this case, the label is very much deserved.
All four teams rank in the top 10 in FIFA’s world rankings. Germany has the highest rank at No. 3, followed closely by the Netherlands at No. 4. Denmark checks in at No. 9 and Portugal ranks No. 10.
Here are my predictions for how each match will end up.
Netherlands vs. Denmark, June 9, 12 p.m. ET, Metalist Stadium
Prediction: Netherlands 3, Denmark 1
The Dutch will storm into the tournament with an unbelievable amount of talent in the attack.
Like the last European Championships, the Netherlands will come roaring out of the gate and dominate the group stage. In Euro 2008, they won all three group matches by scoring nine goals and allowing just one.
This team is equally as talented as the one four years ago, and they will be the talk of the tournament in the early games.
Germany vs. Portugal, June 9, 2:45 p.m. ET, Arena Lviv
Prediction: Germany 1, Portugal 0
While there are plenty of talented attackers on these teams, the defenses are also excellent.
Those hoping for a high-scoring match will be disappointed, as both back lines will show their discipline.
The German defense will blanket Cristiano Ronaldo, and the Portuguese defenders will do well, but the Germans have too many dangerous players to be kept out of the net for the entire 90 minutes.
Denmark vs. Portugal, June 13, 12 p.m. ET, Arena Lviv
These two teams will be very evenly matched. Cristiano Ronaldo is the best player in the tournament, and he will put plenty of pressure on the Danish defense, but the Danes have talented attackers of their own.
Ajax starlet Christian Eriksen is poised for a breakout performance in the Ukraine, where all of the Group B matches are held.
The Danes will be motivated from their loss to the Netherlands and they will catch the Portuguese off-guard and strike first. That will turn this match into a back-and-forth thriller that ultimately ends in a draw.
Which team will win the epic clash between Netherlands and Germany?
Netherlands vs. Germany, June 13, 2:45 ET, Metalist Stadium
Prediction: Netherlands 3, Germany 2
This will be the marquee match in Group B and possibly the most hyped match of the entire group stage.
As good as the Germans are in defense, they will not be able to contain the spectacular Dutch attack. Between Robin van Persie, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben, the Netherlands has size, speed, strength and skill.
An early goal by the men in orange will open up the game and the Germans will show how good their attack is as well. Ultimately the Netherlands will keep the momentum and pull out an exciting victory.
Portugal vs. Netherlands, June 17, 2:45 p.m ET, Metalist Stadium
Prediction: Netherlands 2, Portugal 1
The Netherlands will have secured a spot in the knockout stages already, but that will just give players like Rafael van der Vaart, Ibrahim Afellay and Dirk Kuyt a chance to play. These talented attackers would be starters on most other teams in the tournament.
The Portuguese will ultimately head home after a very disappointing performance. This team has too many holes to survive their unlucky draw.
A loss to a team that did not have much to play for will be a bitter end for Portugal. Meanwhile, the Dutch will celebrate a first place finish in the “Group of Death.”
Denmark vs. Germany, June 17, 2:45 ET, Arena Lviv
Prediction: Germany 2, Denmark 0
The game will take place at the same time as the other Group B match, so Germany will not know that a tie will be good enough to send them through.
The Germans will be extremely motivated, and they are in a different class than Denmark. The defense will be smothering, and the offense will be relentless.
It will only be 2-0, but the Germans will dominate the match from start to finish. In the end, the Netherlands will go on as the top seed from the group and Germany will advance in second.