Into double figures like an absolute boss and I’m still going strong with the diary. Today was all about group B aka the group of death aka the group of real difficulty. It proved to be difficult to predict as everyone’s predictions ended up being wrong from the predictions post, isn’t it nice when that happens?
Netherlands versus Portugal
Netherlands needed to win the game by two clear goals and hope their old friends Germany beat Denmark. This was because they had managed to lose their first two games. Against Germany, which is predictable if not enjoyable, but more offensively against Denmark leaving them clutching at only a faint hope of making the knock out stage. For Portugal, they knew a point would be enough as long as Germany didn’t lose to Denmark by virtue of the head to head rule.
It made for a spectacle as we knew Holland really had to go for it against one of the most dangerous counter-attacking sides in the competition complete with Cristiano Ronaldo who had so far misfired. It should be clear that I don’t like Portugal. Their players have a tendency to be intensely irritating in their behaviour. Cheating, crying, moaning, diving, bitching and generally doing all the things in the game that English players tend to be bad at. Portugal manage the game really well, which is probably why they always seem to beat us, albeit usually with the added ignominy of penalties. Whereas the Dutch are a glorious country of fantastic footballers, who sadly it seems can’t play as a team.
Never has a game been so heavily dictated by what has gone before it in the group. Netherlands dropped Van Bommel and got off to a great start when his replacement, the far more refined and attack minded Van der Vaart curled in a beautiful opener. The game was open and enjoyable to watch with lots of quality on show. In comparison to the mediocre sludge served up by group A, group B was fine dining at its best.
Then Ronaldo had his say, getting on the end of a delicate through ball and slotting home confidently, looking much more like the man who scored endless goals for Madrid this season than the guy who couldn’t seem to buy a goal in his first two games. Netherlands weren’t playing as a unit, the fullbacks both looked vulnerable and the idea of them winning by two goals looked less and less likely as the game went on. Van Persie didn’t look at the races, Robben didn’t look a threat and Huntelaar barely touched the ball. Netherlands pushed forward and the inevitable sucker punch came when a lovely ball from Nani found Ronaldo who calmly slotted home for 2-1. Game, set, match, the Dutch egos laying wasted and in tatters, out without a point having been tipped (by me) to win the group.
Germany versus Denmark
I didn’t watch this game, but from what I can gather from the highlights was that the Germans did enough to win, like they always seem to do. Denmark are plucky, they play to their strengths and work well together as a team which was enough to get them passed Netherlands, but not enough to overcome Germany or Portugal, who also work well as teams, but have better players than Denmark, simple really. There was a point where with this game poised at 1-1 and a goal for Denmark could have eliminated Germany. That should go some way to illustrate just how tight things can be in international football, you cannot afford to have even the tiniest amount of complacency or before you know what has happened you’re out of the tournament. This is traditionally something Germany cope with well, so it was no surprise to see them win the game. I fear for Greece, I really do.
That’s it for day ten
Portugal did enough to get through a tough group and with Cristiano Ronaldo now in the goals they will be tough to beat, they face Czech Republic next and they will fancy their chances. For Germany, they will play Greece and will take some beating. If Greece defend anything like they did for much of their group games they will lose by many, many goals. It’s a shame Netherlands are going home, but they were hugely wasteful against Denmark in their opening game and it eventually cost them, proving the old adage that you simply cannot afford to lose your first game, unless of course you are the Czech Republic, who got smashed 4-1 and still won their group… For Denmark, they acquitted themselves well in a tough group but never really had enough to get through, at least they can say they beat Netherlands.
Highlight of the day: Lars Bender played for Germany and scored a goal. His name alone makes him the highlight of the day, but he took his goal well popping up from right-back Russell Martin style to finish off a good move. Not bad for a guy who usually plays in central midfield.