Wednesday night served up two exciting and enthralling Euro 2012 fixtures, with the ‘group of death’ starting to take shape. Portugal made it hard for themselves in beating Denmark but got there with a late goal, whilst early favourites Germany continued their winning streak by all-but damning Netherlands to a competition exit.
Today sees Republic of Ireland back in action, who will have to defy The World Bet Exchange (WBX) and get a result against world champions Spain to keep their qualification hopes alive. Italy are also in action against Croatia, as Group C’s movers and shakers are set to be decided. Here is the Euro 2012 news catching Soccerlens’ eye today.
Clinical Germany put down a marker
Germany’s mental toughness in international tournaments is renowned, and the latest crop of superstars from the country have shown that they are ready to challenge for Euro 2012 glory. A 2-1 win over rivals Netherlands on Wednesday night means Joachim Low’s men are likely to top Group B, and the result should serve as a warning to other sides with ambitions of winning the competition.
With so much on the line for both teams, the clash was a cagey affair, but Germany showed a clinical edge and ruthless nature to win a close game. Mario Gomez continued his goalscoring streak with two excellently-taken first-half strikes that deflated the Dutch side. An excellent first touch, masterful turn and assured finish opened his account, whilst a thunderbolt from just inside the box doubled his team’s advantage.
Despite Robin van Persie pulling one back for the Oranje, Bert van Marwijk’s men are on the verge of an early exit, but were given a lifeline by Portugal’s win over Portugal. Germany meanwhile need a draw against Morten Olsen’s men to ensure top spot.
Despite the technique and finesse of holders Spain and the quality of other sides in the competition, Germany’s mixture of skill and determination will take some beating. The nature of their win over Netherlands showed a merciless side to the team, as although their opponents had the bulk of the ball, unlike Van Marwijk’s men, Germany clinically took their chances. From there a dogged and disciplined rearguard action meant that victory was ensured.
In competition football it is not always the best side that will lift the crown, as has been proven on countless previous occasions. In the pressure of a big-game environment collective effort and mental toughness can not be understated, and Low’s men have it in spades. Unlike the Dutch superstars who seem guilty of derision and in-fighting, Germany have a combined focus and steely demeanour.
That said, the ability of the squad must also be appreciated and praised. With the youngest average squad in the tournament, Germany have an enviable blend of experience and promise, with their key players as good as any in the world. A stingy looking defence is led by the experience of Phillipp Lahm, and the no-nonsense approach of superstar-in-the-making Mats Hummels. In midfield Bastian Schweinsteiger’s influence is telling, as the Bayern Munich general’s dominance in the centre of the park is evident. Add to this the eye for goal of Gomez, pedigree of Thomas Muller and the exceptional skill and craft of Mesut Ozil and you have a winning formula.
Despite the ability of their starting XI, the pedigree in reserve is frightening also. The likes of Mario Gotze, Marco Reus and a raft of other back-ups would be welcomed into the majority of other nations’ first teams, and Low looks to have a dearth of talent and options in every position.
With a favourable draw in the quarter-finals likely as they will surely face Group A’s runners-up, Low’s men will be hitting the semi-finals in form and with momentum at their back. At this stage a well-rounded, tournament-ready side seem to be hitting their straps just at the right time, and as such Germany will take some stopping this summer.
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Portugal back in the mix
Portugal gave themselves a chance of progressing through Group B on Wednesday with a 3-2 victory over Denmark in a captivating game. Although Cristiano Ronaldo was guilty of missing some clear-cut opportunities, goals from Pepe, Helder Postiga and a late Silvestre Varela effort gave Paulo Bento’s men three points
Russia face six-point disciplinary deduction
Russia are facing a six-point deduction in their qualifying campaign for Euro 2016, as Uefa look into incidents surrounding the eastern European nation’s fans. Russia supporters were guilty of clashes with stewards after their first game of Euro 2012, and 100 people were arrested ahead of their match against Poland.
Trapattoni targets a win over Spain
Despite losing their first game and looking likely to suffer an early competition exit, Republic of Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni has challenged his side to beat the world champions in their Group C fixture on Thursday.
Cassano must pay for comments
Italy forward Antonio Cassano was guilty of making homophobic comments this week, and The Guardian feel that the AC Milan attacker should face disciplinary action.
Dzagoev a star in the making
Russia attacker Alan Dzagoev has scored three goals in Euro 2012, and has emerged as a key man for Dick Advocaat’s team. The Independent look at the playmaker’s background and examine his potential to be a global superstar.
England’s training halted due to heat
Searing temperatures in Ukraine have forced England to cut short their training sessions of late, as Roy Hodgson is concerned of fatigue and burnout of his players.
England are back in action against Sweden tomorrow, whilst Ukraine also face France. For the lead-up to those games, fallout from tonight’s fixtures and all the latest from Euro 2012 come back on Friday.