Euro 2012: Group B Preview

Euro 2012: Group B Preview

Euro 2012

Euro 2012: Group B Preview

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MesutOzil (Getty)

When the draw for Euro 2012 was conducted, there was no denying which group was the dreaded Group of Death: Group B. With star-studded contenders Germany, Netherlands and Portugal and a very capable Denmark side vying for two places in the knockout round, every Group B match will have a must-see component to it.

The favorites to win the group, and perhaps to lift the trophy in Kiev on July 1, are the Germans. Led by Real Madrid maestro Mesut Ozil while blending a mix of youth and experience, Joachim Loew's troops are poised for a deep run.

The Dutch will have something to say about that, though. The 2010 FIFA World Cup runners-up have explosive potential, enough to make up for some uncertainties in defense.

Portugal's hope rests on the shoulders of the prolific Cristiano Ronaldo, while Denmark will aim to play the role of spoiler behind Ajax playmaker Christian Eriksen.

Here is a closer look at all four teams in Group B: 

GROUP B

Schedule (Times Eastern)

Saturday- Netherlands vs. Denmark (ESPN, ESPN3.com), Noon

Saturday- Germany vs. Portugal (ESPN, ESPN3.com), 2:45pm

Wednesday- Denmark vs. Portugal (ESPN, ESPN3.com), Noon

Wednesday- Germany vs. Netherlands (ESPN, ESPN3.com), 2:45pm

Sunday, June 17th- Portugal vs. Netherlands (ESPN, ESPN3.com), 2:45pm

Sunday, June 17thGermany vs. Denmark (ESPN2, ESPN3.com), 2:45pm

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GERMANY

EuroGermany Getty)

PLAYERS TO WATCH– Mesut Ozil, Thomas Muller, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Philipp Lahm, Mario Gomez, Miroslav Klose, Manuel Neuer

NAME TO LEARN– Mario Gotze. The rising, 20-year-old Dortmund attacking midfielder is one of the top young talents in Europe and is high up on wishlists in front offices around the world. Like Ozil and Muller did in the World Cup, Gotze could easily wind up being the young player that does the most to boost his stock in this tournament.

ROSTER

Goalkeepers: Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Tim Wiese (Hoffenheim), Ron-Robert Zieler (Hannover).

Defenders: Holger Badstuber (Bayern Munich), Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich), Mats Hummels (Dortmund), Per Mertesacker (Arsenal), Benedikt Howedes (Schalke), Philipp Lahm (Bayern Munich), Marcel Schmelzer (Dortmund).

Midfielders: Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich), Sami Khedira (Real Madrid), Lars Bender (Leverkusen), Ilkay Gundogan (Dortmund), Toni Kroos (Bayern Munich), Marco Reus (Moenchengladbach), Mario Gotze (Dortmund), Mesut Ozil (Real Madrid).

Forwards: Mario Gomez (Bayern Munich), Miroslav Klose (Lazio), Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich), Andreas Schurrle (Leverkusen), Lukas Podolski (Cologne).

OUTLOOK– The Germans are one of the favorites to win it all, and rightfully so. Navigating out of the group will be tricky, but there are few teams in Europe and the world as complete as Joachim Loew's side.

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NETHERLANDS

EuroNetherlands (Getty) 

PLAYERS TO WATCH– Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Rafael van der Vaart, Gregory van der Wiel

NAME TO LEARN– Luuk de Jong. At 21, this de Jong, unlike the hard-tackling midfielder, is an attacking force, and his 25 goals this season were second most in the Eredivisie. With top English clubs monitoring his progress, de Jong is the Netherlands' next big thing at striker.

ROSTER

Goalkeepers: Maarten Stekelenburg (AS Roma), Michel Vorm (Swansea), Tim Krul (Newcastle).

Defenders: Khalid Boulahrouz (Stuttgart), John Heitinga (Everton), Joris Mathijsen (Malaga), Ron Vlaar (Feyenoord), Wilfred Bouma (PSV Eindhoven), Gregory van der Wiel (Ajax), Jetro Willems (PSV Eindhoven).

Midfielders: Ibrahim Afellay (Barcelona), Mark van Bommel (AC Milan), Nigel de Jong (Manchester City), Stijn Schaars (Sporting Lisbon), Wesley Sneijder (Inter Milan), Kevin Strootman (PSV Eindhoven), Rafael van der Vaart (Tottenham).

Forwards: Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (Schalke), Luuk de Jong (FC Twente), Dirk Kuyt (Liverpool), Luciano Narsingh (Heerenveen), Robin van Persie (Arsenal), Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich).

OUTLOOK– The Oranje are stacked in the attack, but a fresh injury to Mathijsen leaves them fragile and susceptible in the back. The opening game against Denmark is a must-win considering the road and rising pressure for the rest of the group stage.

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PORTUGAL

EurosPortugal (AP)

PLAYERS TO WATCH– Cristiano Ronaldo, Nani, Fabio Coentrao, Raul Meireles, Joao Moutinho

NAME TO LEARN– Nelson Oliveira. The 20-year-old Benfica striker is rumored to have Chelsea and Barcelona eyeing his progress and is a bright-eyed alternative to Portugal's veteran options up front.

ROSTER

Goalkeepers: Eduardo (Benfica), Rui Patrício (Sporting Lisbon), Beto (Cluj).

Defenders: Joao Pereira (Sporting), Bruno Alves (Zenit St Petersburg), Fabio Coentrao (Real Madrid), Pepe (Real Madrid), Ricardo Costa (Valencia), Rolando (Porto), Miguel Lopes (Braga).

Midfielders: Hugo Viana (Braga), Joao Moutinho (Porto), Miguel Veloso (Genoa), Raul Meireles (Chelsea), Ruben Micael (Zaragoza), Custodio (Braga).

Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Hugo Almeida (Besiktas), Helder Postiga (Zaragoza), Nani (Manchester United), Nelson Oliveira (Benfica), Ricardo Quaresma (Besiktas), Silvestre Varela (Porto).

OUTLOOK– Portugal struggled to qualify for Euro 2012 and does not exactly enter the tournament in a blaze of glory. Ronaldo will need to be his super-human self to get the Portuguese and young manager Paulo Bento through to the knockout round.

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DENMARK

EurosDenmark (AP)

PLAYERS TO WATCH– Christian Eriksen, Nicklas Bendtner, Daniel Agger, Simon Kjær, Dennis Rommedahl, Christian Poulsen

NAME TO LEARN– Eriksen. The attacking midfielder has more international experience than the average 20-year-old after being the youngest player at the 2010 World Cup. Coming off another stellar, championship season with Ajax, Eriksen has scouts drooling and the game-changing ability to help Denmark play spoiler.

ROSTER

Goalkeepers: Stephan Andersen (Evian Thonon Gaillard), Anders Lindegaard (Manchester United), Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester City).

Defenders: Lars Jacobsen (FC Kobenhavn), Daniel Wass (Evian Thonon Gaillard), Daniel Agger (Liverpool), Simon Kjær (AS Roma), Andreas Bjelland (Nordsjælland), Simon Poulsen (AZ Alkmaar), Jores Okore (Nordsjælland).

Midfielders: Christian Poulsen (Evian Thonon Gaillard), Jakob Poulsen (Midtjylland), William Kvist (FC Nürnberg), Niki Zimling (Club Brugge), Thomas Kahlenberg (Evian Thonon Gaillard), Christian Eriksen (Ajax), Michael Silberbauer (BSC Young Boys), Lasse Schone (NEC Nijmegen).

Forwards: Dennis Rommedahl (Brondby IF), Nicklas Bendtner (Arsenal), Michael Krohn-Dehli (Brondby IF), Tobias Mikkelsen (FC Nordsjælland), Nicklas Pedersen (FC Groningen).

OUTLOOK– Nobody is considering the Danes as serious contenders in this quartet of teams, but there is enough quality on this side to keep the opposition honest. In any other group, Denmark might have a good shot at the knockout round, but it's incredibly tough to see this team getting through. 

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