Euro 2012 Group B

 

Portugal Fifa ranking 5

Like every team in Group B, Portugal are better than every team in Group A. Coach Paulo Bento must wish that his team had been given an easier draw as few would expect them to fight past Germany or the Netherlands and into the quarter-finals – especially given their poor recent form.

But it can be invigorating to be the underdog. When Bento took over, Portugal had taken one point from their two qualifiers and had just six games left. But they won five before rolling over Bosnia in the play-off. The momentum is theirs, and neither the Germans nor the Dutch will look forward to playing them.

Ronaldo is always the story and he is closer than ever to replicating his club form for his country. The second best player of his generation has scored seven goals in eight competitive games under Bento.

With Ronaldo now on the left wing and Nani (below) on the right, Portugal have a more balanced attack than before. And with Miguel Veloso, Joao Moutinho and Raul Meireles in midfield, they can keep the ball away from opponents once ahead.

The result is a more settled Portugal team than any under Carlos Queiroz. The 2004 tournament was probably their chance to win this, but they are not without threat this time around.

Manager: Paulo Bento The 42-year-old's relaxed, convivial style has brought the best out of players, not least Ronaldo, his old Sporting Lisbon team-mate. After Sporting, this is only Bento's second job.

Tournament odds 18-1.

Squad:

1. Eduardo Goalkeeper (Benfica)

2. Bruno Alves Defender (Zenit St Petersburg)

3. Pepe Defender (Real Madrid)

4. Miguel Veloso Midfielder (Genoa)

5. Fabio Coentrao Defender (Real Madrid)

6. Custodio Midfielder (Braga)

7. Cristiano Ronaldo Midfielder (Real Madrid)

8. Joao Moutinho Midfielder (Porto)

9. Hugo Almeida Striker (Besiktas)

10. Ricardo Quaresma Midfielder (Besiktas)

11. Nelson Oliveira Striker (Benfica)

12. Rui Patricio Defender (Sporting Lisbon)

13. Ricardo Costa Defender (Valencia)

14. Rolando Defender (Porto)

15. Ruben Micael Midfielder (Atletico Madrid)

16. Raul Meireles Midfielder (Chelsea)

17. Nani Midfielder (Manchester United)

18. Silvestre Varela Striker (Porto)

19. Miguel Lopes Defender (Braga)

20. Hugo Viana Midfielder (Braga)

21. Joao Pereira Defender (Sporting Lisbon)

22. Beto Goalkeeper (CFR Cluj)

23. Helder Postiga Striker (Real Zaragoza)

Euros record:

Qualified Six times. Best Finalists (2004).

Germany Fifa ranking 2

Beaten finalists in 2008, and four years of progress since then, means that Germany are deservedly well-favoured to win their fourth European title.

There is a sense that this tournament is Germany's time. They have been improving ever since Joachim Löw took over, winning all 10 qualifying games, and adding to their strong core – Bayern Munich titans Philipp Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger – with even better youngsters.

Manuel Neuer, now 26 years old, is arguably the best goalkeeper in Europe at the moment. Mesut Özil, 23, has just won La Liga with Real Madrid and there will be few more charming creative players than him at the tournament. Mats Hummels and Holger Badstuber, two more 23-year-olds, make a centre-back partnership to invest in for the next decade. And this is before mention is made of Marco Reus, Toni Kroos and Mario Gotze further forward.

This unity means Germany play with the trust and fluency of a club side in their 4-2-3-1 system. There is a choice to be made up front – the wily Miroslav Klose or the imposing Mario Gomez – but like all of Löw's decisions it is between talent and talent, strength and strength. They have the players, the experience and the momentum to win this one.

Manager: Joachim Löw Since his promotion from being Jurgen Klinsmann's assistant he has calmly taken the team to new heights.

Tournament odds 3-1.

Squad:

1. Manuel Neuer Goalkeeper (Bayern Munich)

2. Ilkay Gundogan Midfielder (Borussia Dortmund)

3. Marcel Schmelzer Defender (Borussia Dortmund)

4. Benedikt Howedes Defender (Schalke)

5. Mats Hummels Defender (Borussia Dortmund)

6. Sami Khedira Midfielder (Real Madrid)

7. Bastian Schweinsteiger Midfielder (Bayern Munich)

8. Mesut Ozil Midfielder (Real Madrid)

9. Andre Schurrle Midfielder (Bayer Leverkusen)

10. Lukas Podolski Striker (Arsenal)

11. Miroslav Klose Striker (Lazio)

12. Tim Wiese Goalkeeper (Werder Bremen)

13. Thomas Muller Midfielder (Bayern Munich)

14. Holger Badstuber Defender (Bayern Munich)

15. Lars Bender Midfielder (Bayer Leverkusen)

16. Philipp Lahm Defender (Bayern Munich)

17. Per Mertesacker Defender (Arsenal)

18. Toni Kroos Midfielder (Bayern Munich)

19. Mario Gotze Midfielder (Borussia Dortmund)

20. Jerome Boateng Defender (Bayern Munich)

21. Marco Reus Midfielder (Borussia Dortmund)

22. Ron-Robert Zieler Goalkeeper (Hannover)

23. Mario Gomez Striker (Bayern Munich)

Euros record:

Qualified 11 times [including West Germany]. Best Winners (three times).

Netherlands Fifa ranking 4

There is a strong case for putting the Dutch among the favourites: their world-class talent, their World Cup runners-up spot two years ago and their excellent record in qualifying.

At home, concerns about style of play still linger, particularly around the role of Nigel de Jong. The Manchester City midfielder has come to symbolise Bert van Marwijk's pragmatic, robust style, and just as De Jong's 2010 dropping was applauded, his recall for the recent Wembley friendly was castigated.

Many fans would rather see Rafael van der Vaart or Kevin Strootman in the midfield, and, ultimately, this side will only succeed if it gets the most from its creative players. The Netherlands scored 37 goals in 10 qualifiers but there are still concerns over maximising their attacking options.

Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben have struggled over the past two seasons while Robin van Persie, the third in that brilliant triangle – and in the form of his life for Arsenal – has never replicated that form in orange.

Should Van Marwijk include Bundesliga top scorer Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and, if so, at whose expense? Should Dirk Kuyt make way for Ibrahim Affelay or Luciano Narsingh?

There is still a feeling that Van Marwijk keeps his side on the leash; release them, and they could win their second European crown.

Manager: Bert Van Marwijk Will not apologise for his pragmatism, to the frustration of many at home.

Tournament odds 13-2.

Squad:

1. Maarten Stekelenburg Goalkeeper (Roma)

2. Gregory van der Wiel Defender (Ajax)

3. John Heitinga Defender (Everton)

4. Joris Mathijsen Defender (Malaga)

5. Wilfred Bouma Defender (PSV Eindhoven)

6. Mark van Bommel Midfielder (PSV Eindhoven)

7. Dirk Kuyt Midfielder (Liverpool)

8. Nigel de Jong Midfielder (Manchester City)

9. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar Striker (Schalke)

10. Wesley Sneijder Midfielder (Internazionale)

11. Arjen Robben Midfielder (Bayern Munich)

12. Michel Vorm Goalkeeper (Swansea City)

13. Ron Vlaar Defender (Feyenoord)

14. Stijn Schaars Defender (Sporting Lisbon)

15. Jetro Willems Defender (PSV Eindhoven)

16. Robin van Persie Striker (Arsenal)

17. Kevin Strootman Midfielder (PSV Eindhoven)

18. Luuk de Jong Striker (Twente)

19. Luciano Narsingh Striker (Heerenveen)

20. Ibrahim Afellay Midfielder (Barcelona)

21. Khalid Boulahrouz Defender (Stuttgart)

22. Tim Krul Goalkeeper (Newcastle United)

23. Rafael van der Vaart Midfielder (Tottenham)

Euros record:

Qualified Nine times. Best Winners (1988).

Denmark Fifa ranking 10

In the short-cycle world of international football, Morten Olsen's 12-year reign stands out. This will be the fourth major tournament into which he takes a Danish side, and the range of ages on display here points to a manager with a keen eye for the constant refreshing an international side needs.

The most famous name, already, is Christian Eriksen. The Ajax teenager, eight years old when Olsen took over, is Denmark's most talented outfield product since Michael Laudrup. With similar spatial awareness and beautiful footwork, Eriksen plays behind the striker in a 4-2-3-1 system. If Denmark are somehow to take enough points from Germany, Holland and Portugal to make it through, it will be because of Eriksen's young magic.

Alongside Eriksen is the 33-year-old Dennis Rommedahl (left), a veteran of the entire Olsen reign. Just as Ryan Giggs has managed to do, Rommedahl shows that wing play is not just for the young as long as the instincts remain sharp. Eriksen and Rommedahl will be supplying Nicklas Bendtner. It is an interesting blend of youth and age, but the chemistry will have to be perfect for them to progress.

Manager: Morten Olsen The 62-year-old has been in charge since 2000, having won club trophies in Denmark and the Netherlands.

Tournament odds 80-1.

Squad:

1. Stephen Andersen Goalkeeper (Evian)

2. Christian Poulsen Midfielder (Evian)

3. Simon Kjaer Defender (Roma)

4. Daniel Agger Defender (Liverpool)

5. Simon Poulsen Defender (AZ Alkmaar)

6. Lars Jacobsen Defender (Copenhagen)

7. William Kvist Midfielder (Stuttgart)

8. Christian Eriksen Midfielder (Ajax)

9. Michael Krohn-Dehli Striker (Bronby)

10. Dennis Rommedahl Midfielder (Bronby)

11. Nicklas Bendtner Striker (Arsenal)

12. Andreas Bjelland Defender (Nordsjælland)

13. Jores Okore Defender (Nordsjælland)

14. Lasse Schone Midfielder (NEC Nijmegen)

15. Michael Silberbauer Midfielder (Young Boys)

16. Anders Lindegaard Goalkeeper (Manchester Utd)

17. Nicklas Pedersen Striker (Groningen)

18. Daniel Wass Defender (Evian)

19. Jakob Poulsen Midfielder (Midtjylland)

20. Thomas Kahlenberg Midfielder (Evian)

21. Niki Zimling Midfielder (Brugge)

22. Kasper Schmeichel Goalkeeper (Leicester City)

23. Tobias Mikkelsen Striker (Nordsjælland)

Euros record:

Qualified Eight times. Best Winners (1992).

News
news

Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'

Sport
Erik Lamela celebrates his goal
football

Argentinian scored 'rabona' wonder goal for Tottenham in Europa League – see it here

News
The cartoon produced by Bruce MacKinnon for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on Thursday, showing the bronze soldiers of the war memorial in Ottawa welcoming Corporal Cirillo into their midst
news
News
peopleFox presenter gives her less than favourable view of women in politics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
Funds raised from the sale of poppies help the members of the armed forces with financial difficulties
voicesLindsey German: The best way of protecting soldiers is to stop sending them into disastrous conflicts
News
The Edge and his wife, Morleigh Steinberg, at the Academy Awards in 2014
peopleGuitarist faces protests over plan to build mansions in Malibu
Property
One bedroom terraced house for sale, Richmond Avenue, Islington, London N1. On with Winkworths for £275,000.
property
Voices
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
voicesNigel Farage: Where is the Left’s outrage over the sexual abuse of girls in the North of England?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift performs at the 2014 iHeart Radio Music Festival
musicReview: 1989's songs attempt to encapsulate dramatic emotional change in a few striking lines
News
Mario Balotelli has been accused of 'threateningly' telling a woman to stop photographing his Ferrari
peoplePolice investigate claim Balotelli acted 'threateningly' towards a woman photographing his Ferrari
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Anderson plays Arthur Shelby in Peaky Blinders series two
tvReview: Arthur Shelby Jr seems to be losing his mind as his younger brother lets him run riot in London
Voices
Don’t try this at home: DIY has now fallen out of favour
voicesNick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of it
Arts and Entertainment
Miranda Hart has called time on her award-winning BBC sitcom, Miranda
tv
Sport
Phil Jones (left) attempts to stop the progress of West Bromwich Albion’s James Morrison on Monday
Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo, writes Paul Scholes
Arts and Entertainment
Saw point: Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence in ‘Serena’
filmReview: Serena is a strangely dour and downbeat affair
Life and Style
The Zinger Double Down King, which is a bun-less burger released in Korea
food + drinkKFC unveils breadless meat beast
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker