Part two of the YouTube Preview for Euro 2012 (Group A here).
Group B: the Group of Death, two of the tournament’s major favorites, plus the most talent player in the world not named Leo Messi. Unquestionably, the group to watch.
Group B: Denmark (World Rank: 10), Germany (2), Netherlands (4), and Portugal (5)
Christian Eriksen (Ajax): The youngest player to compete at the 2010 World Cup and is only 18 now. He spent time in Chelsea’s youth academy and will likely make the jump to a top-tier club in the coming years.
Thomas Sorensen (Stoke City), Daniel Agger (Liverpool), and Nicklas Bendtner (Arsenal/Sunderland): Three EPL vets who will add some experience to the Danes, but don’t expect too much of them in this group.
Manager Jogi Loew ushered in a new era of German football in the 2010 World Cup and were the surprise breakout squad of the tournament. Two years later, their investment in the future will begin to pay off. This team is truly inspiring to watch.
A young, talent filled squad: Thomas Müller (Bayern Munich), Mesut Özil (Real Madrid), Mario Götze (Borussia Dortmund), and Lukas Podolski (Arsenal), and Sami Khedira (Real Madrid). Müller had a hard time maintaining a starting position for Bayern, but came through with a huge goal in the Champions League Final (and was the leading scorer in the last World Cup). Özil is my favorite player on the planet and unfortunately plays for Madrid, but still, one helluva player. Extrodinary vision that is granted to only a select few. Götze could make one of the biggest impacts on this tournament. He has dominated the Bundesliga over the past few seasons, but has remained under the radar of some (but not most). Coming Out Party Time.
Bayern Contingent: Muller, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Mario Gomez, Toni Kroos, Philipp Lahm, Jerome Boateng, and Manuel Neuer all come from Bayern Munich and hope to rebuild their form that took them less than ten minutes away from a Champions League title. Their CL experience against Cristiano Ronaldo (and Real Madrid) will benefit them for their matchup with Portugal on the 9th. In addition to these seven who played against him, two of Ronaldo’s Madrid teammates (Özil and Khedira) could face off against him on the pitch as well.
One of the tournament favorites and finalist in 2010 World Cup; Total Football, Brilliant Orange, and my pick to win it all. Young blood paired with world-class vets and a salty disposition following the 2010 WC Final.
Robin Van Persie (Arsenal), Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich), Wesley Sneijder (Inter Milan), Rafa Van der Vaart (Tottenham Hotspur): RVP displayed the technique and results that make him one of the most talented strikers in the world this season. The Robben/Sneijder/VdV midfield trio is a mixture of ego, pace, and sublime skill.
Gregory Van der Wiel (Ajax), Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (Schalke), Kevin Strootman (PSV Eindhoven), and Ibrahim Afellay (Barcelona): The next generation of Dutch footballers are full of ability and potential. Van der Wiel shined in 2010 and will be attacking from his right-back position for some additional firepower. Huntelaar and Strootman will have to fight RVP and Nigel de Jong (Manchester City) for starting spots, but both are capable of instant impact on the run of play. Afellay is fit again after missing most of the season with Barca with injury. Mark Van Bommel (AC Milan) is ugly to watch and sometimes an embarrassment, but a necessary disruptive force in the midfield.
That guy named Ronaldo. International football’s LeBron James. Physically, he can do everything on the pitch. He complains a little too much for some fan’s taste and doesn’t rise to the occasion at critical points, but still one of the most talented players to ever compete in the sport. Portugal unluckily drew the worst possible group to advance, a penalty for having to beat Bosnia in a playoff for one of the final Euro spots.
Nani (Manchester United) is regaining his health, but should be ready for the tournament. Ronaldo Lite was instrumental to Man U’s successes and his dip in form hurt their chances at the EPL title this past year. Raul Meireles (Chelsea) may play a less attacking role than he does for Chelsea but always has the potential to unload a rocket towards goal. Pepe (Real Madrid) is an abomination of an athlete and I refuse to acknowledge him as anything other than a professional hit man. Fábio Coentrão (Real Madrid), Nelson Oliveira (Benfica), and João Moutinho (Porto) are three more to keep an eye on.
Match Dates: Saturday 6/9, Wednesday 6/13, Sunday 6/17
Germany v Portugal 6/9
Netherlands v Germany 6/13
Portugal v Netherlands 6/17
@buddhafari prediction: Germans and Dutch advance in some order. Nothing too surprising. I have little faith in Ronny carrying the Portuguese to the knockout round. Group C coming soon…