Euro 2012 Group B: Why Germany Should Win It All
Yesterday's group B match between Portugal and Germany was touted as being one of the clashes of the first-round fixtures.
Although many spectators were somewhat disappointed with the lack of excitement and end-to-end action for the majority of the match, many seem to be looking past the way in which Germany were able to boss the game.
Rather than going gun-ho and leaving themselves heavily exposed—as the Dutch did against Denmark—Germany were happy to pass the ball around the midfield and wait for Portugal to commit players forward, thus exploiting the gaps that would be left in the Portuguese defensive line when they did.
The tactic is not an "interesting" one for a neutral fan to watch, but it is brilliantly successful on most occasions.
In the World Cup, Germany played with an attacking flair that made them very popular amongst footballing fans across the globe.
The difference between the World Cup and the Euros is that in 2010 Germany were facing the likes of Ghana, Australia and Serbia in their group games.
The risk of committing so many men forward to attacking moves was not as great, due in part to a weaker offence of their opponents.
I fully expect the Germans to employ the same tactic against the Dutch on Wednesday, although if they take all three points from that match, we might see the Germany of 2010 re-emerge against the Danes.
It's pretty obvious that since losing to Spain in the World Cup semifinals, Joachim Lowe has made a particular point of keeping possession of the ball in the midfield.
After all, this is the exact same tactic employed by Spain and Barcelona—the two most successful teams in world football in the past half a decade.
Remember how Spain won in 2010 with a string of 1-0 victories?
We could be witnessing the same thing here with the Germans, who seem to have the perfect game plan for this tournament.
The crucial win against Portugal yesterday, coinciding with Denmark's shock victory over the Netherlands, has meant that already the Nationalmannschaft have a very good chance of qualifying as group B winners.
If they do manage to come out victorious next week against Holland, then that position would be all but confirmed.
As a result, it would set up an "easy" tie with the runner-up of group A—which most pundits believe will be either the Czech Republic, Greece or Poland.
None of these sides should pose any sort of threat to the Germans at this stage of a major tournament, and one would expect that at the very least Lowe's men would reach the semifinals yet again.
Who will win Euro 2012?
Here, they could face anyone from Spain to England or France.
It would be the perfect revenge for Germany to knock out the Spanish at this stage, just like how they were eliminated by Vicente del Bosque's men back in South Africa.
The most crucial advantage that Germany have over any other side in this tournament, however, is their ridiculous squad strength.
Yesterday the likes of Miroslav Klose, Mario Gotze, Toni Kroos, Andre Schurrle and Lars Bender were sitting on the German bench.
With players like these to bring on at any given moment, it will be devilishly difficult for the rest of Europe to compete.
The result yesterday meant that Holland now require a miracle to get out of group B, and the absence of David Villa and Carles Puyol from the Spain side (arguably two of their four most important players, including Xavi and Iker Casillas) means they too will struggle to re-capture the glory of 2008 and 2010.
In reality, the team which could actually pose the greatest threat to the Germans this year are the French.
Laurent Blanc has a talented young set of players at his disposal, who could surprise many with their progression through the tournament.
But I think it is Germany for most teams will be scouting out as the major threat of 2012.
If you can beat the Germans, you can win this tournament.
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