By Aidan Elder
It’s a phrase often thrown around, but rarely has it been so apt. Group B of Euro 2012 is one of the most difficult ever thrown together. Unless you get a lethal injection for not qualifying, calling anything a ‘group of death’ is a misnomer, but this is a pretty close proximation.
All four teams are in the Top 10 of FIFA’s World Rankings. You might think those rankings are about as reliable as trustworthy as a politician’s expense claims, but it is a tough group. Three of the teams are nestled safely within the top five, so it’s clearly a grouping of uncommon strength and competitiveness.
Germany, the Netherlands and Portugal will see themselves as genuine candidates to win the tournament whilst 1992 in still fresh enough in the memory to have the Danes thinking they can’t be ruled out.
At 11/10, Germany are the favourites come out on top of the pile. The depth of talent within the squad and their dominant performance in qualifying mark them out as a quality outfit, but defeat and conceding five goals to Switzerland showed they’re not infallible.
Snapping at their heels – and quite possibly kicking them in the shins – are the Netherlands. It’s somewhat forgotten, but they came close to upsetting the much-lauded Spanish team in the final of the 2010 World Cup. They had the chances to win that game and on the back of Robin van Persie’s extended good form and fitness, they have got a great chance of topping the group at 15/8. Meetings with their biggest neighbour have been pretty spicy in the past and we should more of that this time around.
Portugal have within their ranks the best European player. 4/1 will look like a very big price if Cristiano Ronaldo has a run of games he is capable of having. On the flipside however, if he is shackled, the suspicion is Portugal are rather toothless in other positions.
It’s somewhat curious to see Denmark are 4/1 to qualify from Group B which is the same price for Portugal to win the group. The Danes had three points to spare over the Seleccao in qualifying and conceded substantially fewer goals. Despite lacking the star quality of their rivals, they’ll be dogged and difficult to break down.