Germany vs. Portugal: Euro 2012 Schedule and Preview

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Germany vs. Portugal: Euro 2012 Schedule and Preview
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The world is watching as some of the best squads on the planet gear up for Euro 2012.

Right off the bat, soccer fans are getting a marquee matchup on the pitch, as Germany and Portugal get set to play in Ukraine's Arena Lviv. Both teams taking the pitch will be looking to score early and often, with each preferring to let offense dictate the pace of the game.

Along with 2010 World Cup finalist Holland, Germany and Portugal find themselves in Group B of Euro 2012, dubbed "the group of death." In order to advance out of group play, each team will need to get wins against some of the best in the world.

The tournament of the year is about to kick off in Europe. With the combination of gameplans and talent that will take the pitch this Saturday, this match in group play could be one of the most exciting we will see all year.

Where: Arena Lviv, Lviv, Ukraine

When: Saturday, June 9 at 2:45 p.m. ET

Live Stream: ESPN3.com

 

Something Old

Germany defeated Portugal in each of the last two matches between these teams, in 2006 at the World Cup and at Euro 2008.

Cristiano Ronaldo was there in 2006. He was just 21 years old at the time, though he started nonetheless as Portugal fell in Stuttgart to host Germany in the third-place game.

Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Bastian Schweinsteiger, also 21 in 2006, was there, too. He scored Germany's first two goals before exiting the game after 79 minutes. On the world's biggest stage, it was Schweinsteiger who won the battle of soccer's future stars.

Six years have passed since that first World Cup. Ronaldo now 27, is one of the premier players in the world. For Real Madrid last season, Ronaldo netted 46 goals, second only to Lionel Messi of Barcelona in La Liga play.

Before, the boy wonder from Portugal was outplayed by Schweinsteiger, who has gone on to a successful career with Bayern Munich. Now Ronaldo is back to face Germany yet again, this time to prove that he is the best player on the pitch.

 

Something New

Ronaldo will find the German team he sees on Saturday is not the one he faced before. Gone are keeper Oliver Kahn and longtime captain Michael Ballack, who ceded his title to full-back Phillipp Lahm in 2010. Coach Juergen Klinsmann has departed as well, now at the helm of the United States national team.

Coach Joachim Low now leads a squad featuring young guns like Thomas Muller, Mario Gomez, and Jerome Boateng alongside veterans Lahm, Schweinsteiger, and Miroslav Klose.

Portugal has also seen a changing of the guard since these teams last met. Paulo Bento is the second manager since the departure of Luiz Felipe Scolari. Ricardo has retired, and Rui Patricio is now in goal. At the offensive end, Nani and Hugo Almeida, neither of whom was on the roster in 2006, join forces at forward with Ronaldo, who is now the Portuguese captain.

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

These teams may have played twice in the past six years, but nothing about this matchup will be familiar.

 

Something Brewing?

There is no question that Germany and Portugal are two of the most dangerous squads in the world, but both have stumbled as of late.

Low did not have any of his Bayern Munich players at his disposal when Germany faced Switzerland on May 26th, but he has to be concerned about his squad's defense following the 5-3 defeat.

As surprising of an upset as the loss to the Swiss was, Low could chalk it up to an anomaly if not for the 2-1 loss to the French in February. Against a team that can score like Portugal can, Germany must be wary of any defensive weakness on its end.

However, Portugal seems to be experiencing some scoring woes lately. In its last three matches, Bento's squad played to scoreless draws against Poland and Macedonia before falling 3-1 to Turkey. 

Bento does not have any roster deficiencies to explain away this scoring drought. All will be forgiven if he is able to revive the offense for Euro play. If not, the revolving door of Portuguese coaches could swing back into motion.

 

Which team will win on Saturday?

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Prediction: Germany Wins 3-2

It is hard to believe that such a talented offense will lay an egg on this grand stage. Ronaldo and Nani will make their presence felt, but not enough to offset the German scoring barrage. Low has too many weapons at his disposal, and his squad will come away with a 3-2 victory, the same margin by which Germany defeated Portugal at Euro 2008.

Regardless of who wins, matches against Holland and Denmark are imminent for both teams. As tantalizing of a matchup as this is, it is only the first for the two squads, each of which hopes to play many more before this tournament is through.

At Euro 2012, this is just the beginning.

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