Germany and Netherlands face off again in the group of glamour
Saturday 03 December 2011
Of the other two Euro 2012 groups, the most notable story is their difference in glamour.
It could fairly be said that every team from Group B – Netherlands, Denmark, Portugal and Germany – could beat every team from Group A – Poland, Czech Republic, Greece and Russia. The teams of Group B have a combined Fifa ranking of just 23; those of Group A reach 125.
Group B is one of the strongest European Championship groups in living memory. It contains two plausible winners in Germany – runners-up at Euro 2008, and the Netherlands – runners-up at the 2010 World Cup. Competing with those two traditional giants are Denmark and Portugal, both highly competent sides with tournament pedigree and exciting, attacking players.
While Germany and the Netherlands would be the favourites to progress to the quarter-finals, all six games – held in Ukraine – will be fiercely competitive. The fourth game, the Netherlands v Germany, is one of European football's most celebrated rivalries: after the 1974 World Cup final, which West Germany won 2-1, and the Euro 1988 semi-final, which the Netherlands won by the same score.
Group A, though, is an unfortunate demonstration of what happens when the host nations are seeded. Poland were pre-positioned in Group A by virtue of being joint-hosts, and they will be joined by the three most comfortable opponents from each of the other pots.
Russia are the likely favourites for the group, having reached the semi-finals of Euro 2008. While the Soviet Union won the European Championship of 1960, opponents Greece won it in 2004. The Czech Republic were the beaten finalists in 1996, but they required a play-off win over Montenegro to qualify this time.
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