Holland can only hamper themselves
9 Jun, Euro 2012 (Group B): Holland v Denmark (Kharkiv, 5pm UK)
This should be a game in which the Dutch will fancy themselves highly. They have steadily warmed up over their preparations and Denmark will be without their experienced keeper Thomas Sorensen due to a back injury, which has kept him out of Euro 2012 and could prove to be a big blow.
There is no doubt that Denmark are in the “Group of Death”, which also contains Portugal and Germany. One thing that they will have in their favour, though, is the lack of expectancy … and we all know what happened in the 1992 Euros, when they were called in at the last moment to replace war-torn Yugoslavia and won the tournament in Sweden. But I don’t expect Denmark to get through the group stages this time and just see them as making up the numbers.
But look at Holland. The names just flow, from Rafael van der Vaart to Robin van Persie. The only thing that will stop the Dutch is the Dutch themselves. Christian Eriksen and Nicklas Bendtner are obviously the two to keep an eye on for the Danes but if they are to cause an upset against the Dutch, then these two players will have to be right at the top of their game.
This tournament will also be the test for Van Persie to see if he is able to produce at international level, in a major tournament, and not just on the domestic front. As Van Persie, Lionel Messi will always be considered a lesser Diego Maradona until he does it on the world stage and helps his country to win things like the great Diego did. Likewise, Van Persie will never be mentioned in the same breath as Marco van Basten unless he emulates him in the famous orange shirt.
With this being the first group game for both teams, I see a nervy affair, with Holland eventually running out winners. I feel that Holland have the potential to win the tournament if all their top players keep their dummies well and truly in their mouths. No tantrums, please, but time will tell.
As for the Danes, they will be home in time to enjoy a few weeks’ holiday before pre-season.
Prediction: Holland 2, Denmark 0
Also in Group B: Germany v Portugal (Lviv, 7.45)
This is an early clash of heavyweights. I don’t think Germany will score too many but, on the other hand, I also think that they will be tight at the back as they usually are. Portugal will be the reverse. I see them conceding plenty but also scoring plenty, with the ever-improving Cristiano Ronaldo pulling the strings.
Bastian Schweinsteiger has to be fully fit because he makes the Germans tick. I see this being an entertaining game and with a few goals, too.
Prediction: Germany 2, Portugal 2