Euros Day 10: Die Mannschaft Wins “Group of Death”, Denmark Eliminated
Coming into Euro 2012, Germany and Spain were picked by many to win the tourney. They were my picks, but that might there might have been a little bias in that pick. Given the toughest group, could the Germans even survive to the Quarters? Today, Germany escaped the “Group of Death” completely unscathed winning 2-1, eliminating the Danes in the process (combined with a Portuguese victory).
UEFA got what they wanted with two meaningful games, where all four teams in the group could have moved on or been eliminated. Early on, it looked like the day was going to be full of goals. There were a total of 4 goals scored between the two games within first half hour. Podolski struck early and it seemed like a rout was in the making. But nearly 5 minutes later, the Danes answered with a brilliant header from Krohn-Dehli off of a corner. At this point, it seemed that Krohn-Dehli might have been a hero for a second time. The Danes where through with a draw, and the Dutch were actually winning for the one time this tourney.
Unfortunately for the Danes, Ronaldo decided he would finally show up for his national side. Better late than never, right? I am not sure if the Germans and Danes knew about the score in the other game, but after the Ronaldo goal, play became very poor for nearly 50 minutes. Germany kept possession of the ball, but could not make a decent pass around the 18. Whenever the Danes would win the ball, two or three passes later, it would be under German possession again. Neither team was producing anything in the final third. Germany had possession after possession, but rarely got a good shot off. In the back of my mind, I imagined the Danes breaking after a turnover, and scoring a goal to eliminate the Germans. This almost happened.
Around the 75 minute mark, perhaps the “no-call” of the tournament to date changed the nature of the game, although not much was made of it. Awarded a free kick from about half-field, the Danish captain, Agger, played a brilliant ball into the box. Nicklas Bendtner got a touch on the ball, but that touch would have been much better had he not been held from behind to slow his run. He stretched and toe-poked the ball on target, causing Neuer to make a safe on the line.
But what would have happened without that hold? What if the hold was called and a PK had resulted? Seemingly, the Danes would have scored and taken the lead. If the game had finished 2-1 to the Danes, combined with the Portuguese victory, the Germans would have been eliminated via the “Goals Scored” tiebreaker. (Denmark and Portugal would have had 5, Germany would have only had 4).
After such a scare, the Germans kicked into overdrive. Substitute Schürrle produced some good play around the 18. But it was the unlikely Lars Bender who made a smart run to the back post, after a great pass across the box, and sealed the deal for the Germans with just 10 minutes left. 2-1 Germany. The Danes were exhausted, not getting any more close opportunities the rest of the game. Game over. Three more points for Germany, and zero for the Danes, who stunned bracket predictors everywhere after shocking the Dutch in game one of the group.
Winning all three games (only one convincingly) in the group, Germany seeks to continue it’s 14 game competitive winning streak all the way to the title. The one question that was raised to me is, can the Germans continue to produce just enough goals to get by? After producing in the first two games, Mario Gomez failed to impress today. Podolski finally showed up in his 100th cap with a goal. Müller is continuing to spend half of the game on the ground looking for calls. Ozil has shown some positive moments, but playing rather inconsistently. Schweinsteiger has been playing a holding midfielder well, but his attacking can be summed up in his free kick that didn’t get three feet off the ground and struck the middle of the wall.
Needless to say, the Germans have the potential to win the Cup. However, if the attacking power does not show up in full force, they might be looking at an early exit against Greece. Just look at Russia. That being said, forget about it. The Germans will run all over Greece, and an early goal will open up even more oppurtunities for Germany. My prediction: Germany wins, 3-0.