Euro 2012 Scores: Underdogs Who Showed Signs of Promise
The 2012 European Championships have only seen four matches so far, but there are a few underdogs who showed that they have the talent to play deep into the tournament.
Whether it be in a win or a loss, a handful of clubs proved that that they belong in this competition, whereas it may have been previously thought otherwise.
Here are three of those teams.
The Russians are the favorite to win their group, but they're certainly not a favorite to make any noise in the knockout stages. Well, they weren't before their 4-1 drubbing of the Czech Republic in Wroclaw.
Russia dominated the Czechs for the better part of the match, making crisp, effective passes that led to countless chances in close. It didn't open the match particularly sharp, which makes it all the more impressive that they were able to win by such a large margin.
Their defense was highly touted coming into this match, but it was their attack that got them the win in their opening game. Alan Dzagoev found the back of the net two times, but he can't take all the credit for the offensive onslaught. Andrey Arshavin was masterful in possession, displaying his brilliance with a number of through balls that created golden opportunities for his teammates.
There were four goals combined in the other three matches that have been played so far, something that should give the Russian offense a lot of confidence heading forward. The Czech defense isn't as bad as it looked in the opening game against Russia, and there are worse defenses that Russia will see down the road.
Dick Advocaat and company started the Euro Cup off with a bang, and their chances to advance far into the tournament are not to be discounted.
It's funny to call Portugal an underdog, but they are. It has drawn the "Group of Death" with the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark, and it's going to be a tough road for Paulo Bento's club.
Portugal's 1-0 loss to Germany is not indicative of their talents on the pitch. They hung with the Germans all night, making Mesut Ozil, Lukas Podolski and company look extremely average.
The Portuguese defense put forth a valiant effort in the loss. Fabio Coentrao, Pepe and Bruno Alves all had a great night, as they made the typically potent German offense look no better than decent for all but a few minutes of the match. We saw a bunch of blocks from Coentrao and Alves, but it was Pepe who had the best match of the three.
He was all over the place for the full 90 minutes, and came so close to notching the equalizer when his shot from inside the box hit the bar and nearly crossed the goal line.
Germany is one of the heavy favorites to win the tournament. So the fact that Portugal was able to come within a few inches of scoring a draw with Joachim Low's club speaks volumes for their chances.
The Danes didn't dominate the Netherlands, but they came away with a 1-0 victory, giving themselves a huge leg up to finish in the top half of the group.
The Dutch had plenty of chances to tie the match, but they were unable to finish on some prime opportunities in front of the net. Especially Robin Van Persie, who hardly got a foot on the ball on one of his chances, then was stonewalled by Stephan Andersen.
Andersen was a huge bright spot for Denmark in this match, as he alone kept the ball out of the net on multiple occasions. Not many goaltenders in the world can boast that they made beautiful stops against the likes of Van Persie, Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben.
Which of these three teams has the best chance at winning a quarterfinal match?
Sure, the Dutch only had one or two true chances, but they were able to capitalize on the Netherlands' inability to do the same. Denmark used its formidable defense to keep the Dutch off the board, and have now allowed just six goals in their last nine matches. Who knows what could happen if the Danes are able to score an early goal against Portugal on June 13, sit back and rest on their laurels and come away with a one-goal victory.
Of course, that's all speculation and prediction at this point, but if Denmark can beat the Netherlands, they can give most anyone a run for their money in this tournament.
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