The battle for the 2012 UEFA European Championship is well underway, as 16 teams representing their home countries fight to bring home the Henri Delaunay Trophy.
Group B is one of the most talented groups in Euro 2012. Consisting of Denmark, Germany, Portugal and the Netherlands, this group may be the most competitive. This is why it is also known as the "Group of Death."
Denmark, led by defenseman and team captain Daniel Agger, ripped through the qualifying rounds with a 6-1-1 record. Denmark have not won a European Championship since 1992, and in 2008, they did not even qualify for the tournament.
In 2012, the Danish national team will try to bounce back and return to championship form. So far, they are on the right track.
Germany also entered the tournament on a hot streak. The team dropped only two matchups (including friendlies) in the year leading up to Euro 2012.
Germany have been a force to be reckoned with in past European Championships. In the ten UEFA Euros prior to 2012, Germany have either been champions or runners-up in six of them.
Germany may be the favorites to win Euro 2012. The team held a perfect 10-0 qualification record, which is the best record they have ever posted. On its undefeated run, the German national team outscored its opponents 34 to seven.
Both teams emerged victorious in their first Euro 2012 match. Denmark defeated Netherlands by a score of 1-0, and Germany defeated Portugal 1-0 as well. Denmark dropped their second game to Portugal by a score of 2-3 while Germany topped the Netherlands, 2-1.
The two teams will fight it out on the pitch this weekend for a chance to emerge as the Group B champion.
Where: Arena Lviv, Ukraine
When: Sunday, June 17, 2:45 EST
Live Stream: ESPN
Denmark’s Euro 2012 game results
Match 3: Denmark 1, Netherlands 0
Match 11: Denmark 2, Portugal 3
Denmark may have caught the Netherlands off guard and eked out a win in Match 3. The Netherlands were able to outshoot Denmark 28 to eight, but Denmark’s Michael Krohn-Dehli was able to capitalize where the Dutch shooters could not. His lone goal was enough to lift Denmark to an unlikely victory.
Denmark’s luck ran out when they faced Portugal in Match 11. Portugal built a two-goal advantage before Denmark was able to score. Even though the Danish tied it in the second half on Nicklas Bendtner's second goal of the match, Portuguese substitute Varela put his country back on top in the 87th minute. The talent disparity may have been too much for Denmark to handle.
Germany’s Euro 2012 game results
Match 4: Germany 1, Portugal 0
Match 12: Germany 2, Netherlands 1
Germany met with a formidable opponent in Portugal for Match 4. The game was a scoreless, back-and-forth tussle until the 72nd minute, when Mario Gomez was able to sneak a header past Portuguese goaltender Rui Patricio. With a win over Portugal, and the Netherlands falling to Denmark, Germany owns a game advantage over its two biggest adversaries.
After building a 2-0 lead, Germany had to weather a late-game rally versus the Netherlands thanks to the foot of Robin Van Persie. The German national team was able to hold on just long enough to ensure a victory and move to 2-0. The win granted Germany sole possession of the lead in Group B.
What They Are Playing For
Aside from the approval of their respective motherlands, both teams have specific motivations to play well in Euro 2012.
The German national team looks to keep up the dominance they have displayed in past tournaments, as they eye the possibility of winning their fourth European Championship trophy. Conversely, Denmark will adopt the dark horse role, punishing any team that overlooks their talent.
Scorers to Watch
Danish forward Dennis Rommedahl brings experience to a relatively young offensive unit. At 33 years old, Rommedahl has 117 caps and 21 career goals for the Danish national team. Right behind Rommedahl is forward Nicklas Bendtner, one of Denmark’s young stars. Bendtner, who plays club soccer with Arsenal, has 18 career goals and 49 caps despite his young age, 24 (via UEFA.com).
German forward Miroslav Klose is the second most capped player in German national team history, with 117 caps. His 63 career goals make him one of Germany’s most valuable scoring threats. Midfielder Lukas Podolski is also known to find the back of the net from time to time. His 43 career goals are good enough for second most among current members of the national team (via UEFA.com).
The Germany/Denmark matchup should yield a hard-fought, defensive game. But, ultimately, Germany’s experience and offensive firepower will prove to be too much for Denmark to handle.
If Denmark want to have a chance to win this game, they need to keep the match close and low scoring for as long as possible. If they allow Germany to set the pace of the game, they will surely fall behind and it will be very difficult to recover.
If Germany are able to build a lead early in the game, Denmark will have to fight very hard to make a comeback. Germany will try to set the tone and put the game out of reach as early as possible.