Euro 2012 preview: Germany

June 5, 2012
Euro 2012 preview: Germany

They didn’t win the competition, but Germany hit the greatest heights at World Cup 2010. While Spain embarked on a series of controlled but rather uninspiring 1-0 victories, Germany hit four goals past Australia, England and Argentina.

The problem was, those matches tended to be won with predominantly counter-attacking football. It’s a little harsh to criticise in this respect – you can hardly blame Germany for scoring early, the opposition having to come forward more and then Germany hitting them on the break – but the contrast in styles during their defeat to Spain in the semi-final was obvious. Spain were about proactively pressing and winning the ball high up, Germany wanted to counter.

But once Spain went 1-0 up, Germany could no longer counter as Spain weren’t leaving spaces at the back. Furthermore, they found it difficult to come out of their shell and press to win the ball. They had to become a more proactive side. Read more »

Euro 2012 preview: Portugal

June 5, 2012
Euro 2012 preview: Portugal

Such is their habit for producing a certain type of footballer, it rather feels like we’ve encountered a Portugal side with these strengths and weaknesses many times before.

Portugal is home to the superstar winger. For years their highest-profile player has resided on the flank – first Luis Figo, then Cristiano Ronaldo – with a slight overlap between the two. Simao Sabrosa, Ricardo Quaresma and Nani have all been hyped as a potential world beater – Simao has now retired from international football, Quaresma is on the fringes of the squad, and Nani will start on the opposite flank to Ronaldo, keen to make an impact having missed the 2010 World Cup through injury. “Our kids grow up learning how to dribble, how to run with the ball, how to have the ball at their feet,” Nani says of Portugal’s obsession with wingers. “They rarely play with their back to goal, that’s why I think there aren’t so many strikers in Portugal.” Read more »

Euro 2012 preview: Holland

June 5, 2012
Euro 2012 preview: Holland

After a reputation for playing beautiful football was undermined by Holland’s brutal performance in the 2010 World Cup final, Holland’s strategy in the past two years has been an interesting balancing act – Bert van Marwijk wants to look as if he’s moved on to a more open style of football, but remains reluctant to abandon the structure and functionality that took Holland to the World Cup final in the first place.

Despite retaining roughly the same core of players, Holland are a more attractive side than two years ago. They hold onto the ball for longer periods, and the circulation of the ball is quicker. Read more »

Euro 2012 preview: Denmark

June 5, 2012
Euro 2012 preview: Denmark

It’s impossible to think of Denmark at the European Championships without thinking of their astonishing victory 20 years ago. Then, they triumphed at Euro 92 despite not qualifying for the tournament initially…yet they’re even more of outsiders this time around.

That’s not due to the ability of the side, but because of their group. Together with Germany, Holland and Portugal (three of the top five sides in the world, according to the FIFA Rankings), they have the worst draw of any of the 16 teams in the competition. In Group A, they might have been favourites. In group B, they’re expected to finish bottom.

Yet there are grounds for optimism. Denmark finished above Portugal in their qualification group, and thrive upon the role of underdog. Read more »