Euro 2012: Group B Players Who Will Shine on Day 2

Ian Hanford@Ian_HanfordFeatured ColumnistJune 9, 2012

MADRID, SPAIN - APRIL 14: Mesut Ozil (L) of Real Madrid with Alberto Lora of Real Sporting de Gijon during the La Liga match between Real Madrid CF and Real Sporting de Gijon at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on April 14, 2012 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)
Jasper Juinen/Getty Images

Euro 2012's second day will pit the elite players on four world-class sides against each other.

A few special players will emerge from their highly-contested draws looking better than the rest. These players will capture the attention of all those in attendance, and watching on television, with their magnificent array of skills and smarts.

Let's look at one breakout player from each team to watch in today's action.

Mesut Ozil

Ozil is a rising star in Germany's midfield because of his astounding ball control and creativity in the open field.

He scored four goals and racked up 17 assists in 35 games for Real Madrid this season. Germany's head coach, Joachim Low, believes Ozil should be scoring more.

Ozil's passing could be the key to Germany's dominant attack.

Bastian Schweinsteiger and Thomas Muller will control the rest of the midfield with their end-to-end play. Ozil's vision must pace the German attack.

Finding Germany's striker, whether it be Mario Gomez or Miroslav Klose, will be vital to their success. Both are elite scorers with the propensity for big-game performances. Ozil must make sure they get their chance to shine.

Fans will marvel at Ozil's ability to hold the ball in space and find the smallest cracks in Portugal's armor. He will test Rui Patricio today with his long-range shot, but Ozil's strength lies in facilitating Germany's offensive assault.


Nani usually plays in soccer titan Cristiano Ronaldo's incredibly tall shadow, but he is no slouch.

He is a dangerous scorer from the wing. Germany must be mindful of his whereabouts in today's second match.

Nani scored eight goals in 24 games for Manchester United in the English Premier League this year. He has made 54 career international appearances, and he has scored 13 goals during that time.

Leo Messi is the world's best player, with Ronaldo coming in a narrow second. Nani isn't ever going to be Ronaldo, but he provides Portugal with a valuable Robin to their established Batman.

He is erratic and unpredictable at times. But that same inconsistency gives him an advantage over opponents. He doesn't know where he is going, and that means they don't either.

Nani's speed, tricky open-field handles and flair for the dramatic make him a can't-miss performer.

Christian Eriksen

Eriksen is Denmark's most dangerous player. He would receive more attention, but he plays for an overlooked Dutch club (Ajax), and no one really pays attention to Denmark on the international scene.

Despite his lesser-known nature, Eriksen is a scintillating 20-year-old talent. He won the 2010 Dutch Talent of the Year award at just 19 years old.

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - APRIL 01:  Christian Eriksen of Ajax in action during the Eredivisie match between Ajax Amsterdam and SC Heracles Almelo at Amsterdam Arena on April 1, 2012 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

For Ajax this year, Eriksen scored just seven goals in 20 games. In 23 international appearances he has scored two goals. His production may look marginal, but his age must be taken into account.

Denmark's attack is spearheaded by Nicklas Bendtner, but Eriksen is the offense's pulse. He will be charged with serving Bendtner with quality passes on a regular basis.

Being comfortable is tough sometimes for a player with very little experience, but Eriksen doesn't shy from the big moment. He has been very successful in limited professional appearances.

Expect his superior creativity and vision to leave a lasting impression on observers of Day 2's first contest.

Wesley Sneijder

Most of Denmark's focus will be on the Netherlands' dynamic striker Robin Van Persie, but Sneijder will command his fair share of focus as well.

Sneijder did not have a great year with Serie A's Inter Milan this year. He scored four goals and had five assists in 21 games.

His real value comes in his experienced run of international success. Since 2003, Sneijder has made 84 international appearances and scored 24 goals.

He is a proven marksman from distance, knows his way around the offensive zone and is proficient with both feet. Sneijder's table-setting ability in the midfield will be the main reason Van Persie produces in this year's Euro tournament.

Sneijder's veteran leadership will overpower his reputation to disappear from contests for long lengths. He is a quality veteran presence in the center of the Netherlands' dangerous attack.

Watch Van Persie today, but make sure you watch Sneijder negotiate the field's middle portion.