It seems like every time there is a so-called “Group of Death” in a soccer tournament things never seem to turn out quite as expected. This is certainly the case this year at Euro 2012.
Based on the odds it should have been Germany and Netherlands that advanced on to the elimination round. While Germany has done their part (though there is still one scenario which could see them eliminated), the Dutch have been disastrous.
Now the last two games of the group are totally wide open, and anything can happen. Since both games will be played at the same time (Sunday, June 17 at 2:45 p.m. ET) they are equally important, so it only makes sense to look at both here (All odds are from Bovada):
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Portugal vs. Netherlands
The game is tight. Netherlands is favored at +150 on the moneyline with Portugal at +175 and the draw at +250. Netherlands is at Pick (-130) on the point spread, with Portugal at even money. The total is set at 2.5 with the ‘over’ heavily favored at -140 and the ‘under’ at +110.
Portugal lost their opener, 1-0, to Germany, but turned things around with a 3-2 win over Denmark secured with a goal in the 87th minute after they had allowed Denmark to erase a two-goal lead. The first thing that stands out when you look at the scoresheets from the games is that Cristiano Ronaldo has contributed nothing but a yellow card in the two games. He’s one of the great players on the planet, but continues to struggle to play at his best in the biggest tournaments. He needs to turn his game around, and his team needs to show that they can focus for more than a few minutes at a time. That being said, if you had said going into the tournament that they would be 1-1 heading into this game and that they had a decent chance of advancing if things work out just right then that would have seemed about right given what they brought to the table.
Netherlands opened the tournament with the biggest shocker we have seen when they lost 1-0 to Denmark. They outplayed the Danes most of the way, but you could see them visibly deflate when Denmark scored and they never seemed to believe they could tie it up. Their second game against Germany was a disaster. The 2-1 score was flattering as they were down 2-0 and out of it by the half. Talent isn’t their problem — as it never has been when they have disappointed internationally — but their defensive intensity is lacking, and most significantly they just haven’t had the leadership they need emerge. This is their game to lose, but I have no problem believing that they can find a way to lose it.
Denmark vs. Germany
The oddsmakers leave little doubt about how they expect this one to turn out. Germany is heavily favored on the moneyline at -160, with Denmark far behind at +525 and the draw at +260. The point spread is at one with Germany at -1 (+135) and Denmark at +1 (-175). The total is 2.5, with the over favored at -125 and the under at -105.
Germany perhaps hasn’t been quite as sharp as expected, but in beating the two best teams in this group without much of a scare they have done exactly what has been asked of them. The only goal they gave up was a garbage-time marker by the Dutch, so they have been defensively sound. The story so far has been striker Mario Gomez. There was controversy over whether Gomez or Miroslav Klose should be the starter, but Gomez has proven he was the right choice by scoring all three goals the team has tallied. If he continues his hot play — and since he has been red-hot for two years now that’s a good bet — and the rest of the offense steps up then this team will be hard to beat here and beyond.
Denmark likely didn’t get enough respect coming into this group. They were clearly the fourth-best on paper, but they were certainly a capable, highly-ranked team in their own right. In their opener they showed they couldn’t quite match the Dutch talent for talent, but they could crush them when it came to heart. It was a gritty performance. That grit was on exhibition again when they came back from 0-2 to tie Portugal, but they seemed to let up slightly when they tied it up, and Portugal is talented enough to exploit that weakness. Denmark simply isn’t talented enough to trade punches with Germany, so they need to want this game more than the Germans, and they need to play at full intensity from whistle to whistle. There is absolutely no margin for error.
Germany advances unless they lose to Denmark by a score of 1-0, 2-1 or by two goals and if Portugal wins. With a draw or a win they will win the group.
Denmark advances if they win or if they draw and Netherlands win. They cannot advance if they lose. They win the group if they beat Germany.
Portugal can advance with a win or draw and a German win or draw. If Portugal and Denmark both win Portugal would advance if Denmark wins 1-0, would advance if Denmark wins 2-1 or by two goals, and wouldn’t advance if Denmark wins by one while scoring at least three goals. Portugal can lose their game and still advance if they only lose by one goal and Germany wins.
Netherlands has little hope — they need Germany to win and they need to beat Portugal by at least two goals.
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