After the fascinating Group A games yesterday, attentions turn back towards Group B – or the Group of Death. Thus far the Group of Death has lived up to its tag, even if it has been lacking in the excitement stakes. Denmark’s 1-0 win over the Netherlands in the first round of matches has left the Dutch in a perilous position heading into this second game. Lose, and they are all but out, and even a draw may not be enough. No, instead the Dutch must really go all out for a win against one of the tournament favourites Germany. I certainly don’t envy their position that’s for sure.
Yesterday’s Group A games were considered some of the weakest games of the group stage, yet the quality of football on show was far from weak. In the day’s opening game it was the Czech Republic who cast aside their opening day loss to the Russians with an impressive 2-1 win over Greece. Petr Jiracek scored the opener for the Czechs within 3 minutes of the start, and they doubled their advantage by the 6th minute as Vaclav Pilar bundled the ball home from close range. However, just like the first round of matches, Greece improved their game in the second half; pulling one back through Gekas, but this time round they couldn’t pull it back to a draw.
The later game was marred by crowd trouble before the game and the unveiling of a huge banner just before kick-off which has led to the Russian FA being fined around £100k and being handed a suspended six-point penalty for the next European Championship qualifying phase. In the match itself the two sides finished level at 1-1, with Alan Dzagoev getting his third of the tournament before Polish captain Jakub "Kuba" Blaszczykowski equalised with a long-range screamer that could well be our goal of the tournament so far. Here’s how Group A looks after last night’s games:
Today’s games see Holland take on Germany as mentioned earlier with changes expected for both teams, and the early game will pit Denmark up against Portugal. After their disappointing showing in their first game, Portugal need a win if they wish to stand any chance of progressing, and that means a lot of pressure will be Cristiano Ronaldo to deliver. Can he rescue Paulo Bento’s side from mediocrity, or will the Danes pull off another upset?