Group B has been tagged as the always-entertaining "Group of Death" for Euro 2012. Our expert breaks down the toughest group in the tournament to handicap:
FIFA World Ranking: No. 2
Odds: +275 to win Euros, +110 to win group, -375 to advance from group.
About team: The Teutonic Train rolled to a perfect 10-0 mark in qualifying while unleashing its brand of ruthless efficiency (outscoring foes 34-7). Still smarting after World Cup 2010’s third-place finish (losing to eventual winners Spain in the semis), expect Germany to load up the midfield where it will seek to dominate possession and leave the talisman duties to lone striker Mario Gomez, one of six Bayern Munich players to feature in manager Joachim Loew’s 4-2-3-1 setup.
Player to watch: Euro 2012 marks a homecoming for Poland-born forward Miroslav Klose, who netted 13 goals in 27 games for Serie A Lazio. Klose, whose professional football-playing father Josef Klose was German, is a force in the air and an intricate passer. Klose has 63 goals in 115 international appearances.
FIFA World Ranking: No. 4
Odds: +650 to win Euros, +175 to win group, -174 to advance from group
About team: Fresh from a runners-up medal at World Cup 2010, The Oranje are a team whose stock is on the rise. Criticism of Holland’s cynical WC Final performance against Spain aside, the Dutch produce a fluid, attacking brand of football as evidenced by a superlative 9-1 qualifying campaign (outscoring opponents 38-7). Manager Bert van Marwijk opts for a 4-2-3-1, which leaves either Arsenal’s Robin van Persie or Schalke’s Klaas-Jan Huntelaar on the bench.
Player to watch: Klaas-Jan Huntelaar seemed like odd-man out in friendlies, but the Schalke striker fired in 12 goals in qualifiers and is already expressing dismay of being left out in favor of the sublime van Persie.
FIFA World Ranking: No. 5
Odds: +1000 to win Euros, +350 to win group, +122 to advance from group
About team: Portugal is largely seen as a one-man band with Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo providing the offensive dramatics. In the team’s 4-3-3 formation, Ronaldo has to share the sugar with the likes of Manchester United’s Nani and Real Zaragoza’s Helder Postiga to be successful.
Player to watch: At his best, Nani is a brilliant playmaker whose speed down the flank creates wondrous scoring opportunities. A productive link up with former Man United teammate Ronaldo has yet to be realized but their partnership could blossom in Euro 2012.
FIFA World Ranking: No. 10
Odds: +5000 to win Euros, +1150 to win group, +504 to advance from group
About team: Group B is the group of death and that leaves a otherwise sound Danish squad on the outside looking in. Yet to overlook Morten Olsen’s 4-3-3 aligned outfit would be a dreadful mistake. Denmark had a solid 6-1-1 qualifying campaign, beating Group B rival Portugal 2-1 at home.
Player to watch: Goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, a last-minute call up after starting GK Thomas Sorensen was felled by a back injury, is the son of netminding great Peter Schmeichel, who led the Danes to an improbable European Championship in 1992.