With the final Euro 2012 Group B matches about to take place let’s start with the important bit; who exactly can make it through to the next round of the competition.
Mathematically all three teams can still progress dependant on results.
Germany, who face Denmark, only need one point to progress. Even if they lose they will still progress with a 3-2 defeat, or a higher-scoring one-goal loss. Otherwise, they will be out if Portugal beat Netherlands, but through if the Portuguese do not claim three points.
Portugal will progress if they beat Netherlands and Germany beat Denmark. If Denmark beat Germany by 3-2, or a higher-scoring one-goal margin then Portugal are out.. If Portugal draw then they will need Germany to win. If they lose 1-0 then they can still progress is Germany beat Denmark, but lose by any more and they are out.
Denmark will progress if they beat Germany and Portugal lose. If they draw then they need Portugal to lose. If the Danes lose then they are out.
The Netherlands need to win to stand any chance of qualifying. They also need Germany to beat Denmark.
Hopefully that all made sense, now on to the match preview…
Portugal must avoid defeat against the Netherlands on Sunday and match Denmark’s result versus Germany to make the Euro 2012 quarter-finals.
Coach Paulo Bento will be hopeful captain Cristiano Ronaldo can overcome his poor start to the European Championships and produce a top-class performance.
After a 1-0 loss to Germany in their opening game of Euro 2012, Portugal put themselves within touching distance of the knockout stages with a stunning 3-2 victory over Denmark on Wednesday.
But Bento’s side have done so without much of a contribution from Ronaldo and if the 27-year-old forward can replicate his form for Real Madrid with his country, Portugal should account for a disjointed Dutch team.
Ronaldo was barely sighted in the first half against Germany and missed two great chances to score in the second half against Denmark with the game in the balance.
In the end it was Silvestre Varela that scored the winning goal for Portugal after Denmark had fought back from 2-0 down to equalise in the 80th minute.
Ronaldo has scored just five goals for his country in 21 matches at major tournaments at a ratio worse than a goal every four games.
That is much lower than his overall international scoring ratio, which is better than one goal every three games, or his overall club record, which is almost two goals for every three matches.
Portugal have downplayed Ronaldo’s lack of form so far in Poland and Ukraine but will be hoping the Real Madrid attacker can improve against the Netherlands in time for the quarter-finals.
After their win over Denmark, Portugal are second in Group B on three points, equal with the Danes.
As long as they avoid defeat against the Dutch and achieve the same result as Denmark, Portugal will advance from their group because teams finishing on equal points are split according to their head-to-head record.
It’s the group stage in only but name for the Netherlands, who need to win by two clear goals to stand any chance of progressing to the knockout stages – and even then they need old foes Germany to beat the Danes. Not quite mission impossible, but certainly mission improbable on the evidence the Dutch have demonstrated so far. No country has ever reached the knockout phase at a Euro after losing their first two matches.
Two years ago the Netherlands were 90 minutes from lifting the World Cup, now they are 90 minutes from heading home early as the first major casualties of Euro 2012.
The Dutch have scored just one goal in the tournament so far and coach Bert van Marwijk is expected to make a number of changes for the clash against Portugal.
Van Marwijk may be tempted to start with both Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Robin van Persie as a forward partnership after starting the former on the bench in the first two games.
Portugal are boosted by the return of defender Miguel Lopes following a cold.
With Lopes passed fit head coach Paulo Bento has a fully-fit squad of 23 players to choose from.
Netherlands boss Bert van Marwijk has intimated he will change his team, with Rafael van der Vaart and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar tipped to start.
Veteran Mark van Bommel and winger Ibrahim Afellay were substituted against Germany and are likely to be sacrificed as the Dutch go for goals.
- The Netherlands have won only one of their previous 10 meetings with Portugal, a 1-0 victory in a European Championship qualifier in October 1991. Portugal have won six with the other three matches drawn.
- Portugal have kept a clean sheet against the Netherlands in six of their 10 encounters.
- The World Cup meeting in 2006 was marred by a record-equaling 16 yellow cards, which led to four red cards (two for each country).
- The two countries are meeting for a third time in the last five major tournaments.
- Portugal is the only country in European Championship finals history to have never crashed out in the group phase before.
- They have won 12 of 14 Euro finals matches in which they have opened the scoring (D1, L1).
- The last five European Championship goals conceded by Portugal have been headers.
- Cristiano Ronaldo has had 10 shots during Euro 2012 but is yet to score.
- The Netherlands have not been eliminated in the group phase of a major championship since Euro 1980.
- They have lost two group games in the same European Championship finals tournament for the first time in their history.
- If selected, Marteen Stekelenburg will win his 50th cap for the Netherlands.
Portugal – 15/8
Holland – 13/8
Draw – 5/2