Despite being drawn in the ‘Group of Death’, the ‘Oranje’ will be hot favourites to win their group in this year’s tournament. The Dutch will also be considered as strong contenders for the European crown, especially having reached the final of the 2010 World Cup and producing some splendid performances as of late.
Netherlands, blessed with some wonderful footballing talent, plays an exciting brand of attacking football admired and appreciated all over the globe. Heavily criticised for their aggressive nature of football and the lack of attention to the defensive frailties at the 2010 World Cup, Marwijk has made it clear that his team will not be swayed by the criticism drawn towards their attacking philosophy and will look to go on the offensive against their opponents and not stick to a more defensive style of football.
However, strength in-depth will be the key for Bert van Marwijk’s men. Netherlands have a top quality squad capable of going all the way through. With an array of goalkeeping talent at his disposal, Marwijk will be hoping that his keepers cover up the defensive frailties of the team.
The inconsistency at the back is a serious issue that needs addressing should the ‘Oranje’ plan to win the competition. The likes of Vlaar, Heitinga, and Boulahrouz will have to come up with spectacular performances at the back in order to give their team a real chance against the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Mario Gomez and other top class players.
The strength of the team lies in its midfield and attack, which is packed with some world-class talents in the form of Robben, Sneijder, Van der Vaart and Afellay. The presence of Huntelaar and Van Persie, both of whom have had sensational club campaigns and have notched up a combined total of 85 goals will make a devastating attack pair.
Germany is probably the most efficient team in this year’s European championships. A strong defence along with a strong midfield and attack makes Germany the firm favourites for winning the tournament.
Most of their players have had brilliant domestic seasons and have taken their standards up to the level where mistakes are just not allowed. Germany fielded a team of youngsters in the World Cup in 2010 and had a fantastic tournament then. Addition of experience and the taste of success at club levels will have made the young guns hungrier than ever.
The Germans have a brilliant defence with one of the finest keepers in the world, Manuel Neur. Protected by an incredible wealth of defensive talent in the form of Badstuber, Boateng, Hummels, Mertesacker and an inspiring captain in Philipp Lahm as their full back.
Real Madrid maestro Mesut Ozil will be the creative heart of the team alongside the solid and reliable Bastian Schweinsteiger. However, it will be interesting to watch what the young genius Mario Gotze can do, should he get some game time. The likes of Muller and Kroos add further quality to the German midfield. The German attack looks as good as ever with veteran striker Klose and established forwards, Podolski and Gomez likely to form a classy group of strikers.
Paulo Bento and his men will probably feel hard done by the draw. Despite having a decent squad, Portugal is expected to bow out of the competition right at the group stages. Drawn against superior oppositions, Portugal will need to come up with some amazing performances and huge upsets in order to make it past the group stage of this year’s European championships.
As always, Portugal will rely on their wing play as their most potent attacking threat. Explosive pace and trickery in the form of Nani, Coentrao and Quaresma will mean that their star man Cristiano Ronaldo will be forced to play as the striker. The Portuguese will look to Ronaldo with the hope that he is able to conjure some magical performances with his superlative pace, trickery and finishing.
However, the lack of quality at the centre of the park might see Ronaldo starved of much support. Chelsea playmaker Raul Meireles has had an inconsistent season with his club, which leaves the Porto man Moutinho responsible for the creativity.
Portugal has a superb young goalkeeper in Rui Patricio, protected by a decent backline with the likes of Alves and Pepe in their armoury. However, only a miracle will see them through to the knockout stages of the tournament this year.
Morten Olsen has rightly stated that his team will need a fair amount of luck in order to progress in the competition. Oppositions with far superior resources will spell a premature ending to Denmark’s European adventure.
Denmark has a decent team with enough quality, probably to make it to the knockout rounds. However, the draw has been miserable to the Danish side, who are expected to fizzle out at the group stages without making a mark of their own.
However, there will be a few young talents to watch out for. The Ajax wonder-kid Christian Eriksen and the in demand centre half Simon Kjaer are two young players with bags of potential and they will be watched closely by big European clubs.
Christian Poulsen, Rommedahl, Daniel Agger and Nicklas Bendtner are other players Olsen will look to depend on with the hopes of getting something out of the tournament.