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Euro 2012 talking points: day 2

Miguel Delaney looks back at the opening set of Group B matches.

Denmark's Michael Krohn-Dehli, centre, Tobias Mikkelsen, left, and Denmark's William Kvist.
Denmark's Michael Krohn-Dehli, centre, Tobias Mikkelsen, left, and Denmark's William Kvist.
Image: Vadim Ghirda/AP/Press Association Images

The Danish do a Greece?

In this column last night, we talked about how, despite the broader differences between teams, tournaments as a whole can conform to certain patterns. And, after Denmark followed Greece by claiming an improbable result with a reactive display, will this continue to be a tournament that favours pragmatism?

Certainly, Giovanni Trapattoni should be encouraged.

The Danes, it must be said, were not completely defensive. Nor were they completely successful in defending.

The Netherlands, after all, missed a host of chances and should have had a penalty. As such, this was more of a freak result than a show of primal, defensive force.

But, all in all, it conforms to something of a pattern so far.

Credit: Manu Fernandez/AP/Press Association Images

Not so reliant Robin

Perhaps Robin van Persie’s first-half miss wasn’t that much of a shock. Because, despite such a devastating season, he only scored three times in his last 10 games. Has he felt the fatigue of such a campaign at exactly the wrong time?

In saying that, Van Persie’s blank wasn’t completely his fault. In many ways, the issues that the Dutch only just managed to avoid in the 2010 World Cup: as has been much discussed, they are a tactically ‘broken’ team. Despite their ample attacking talent, there is no real link between defensive base and dynamic front. They could, for example, do with a Xavi or Andrea Pirlo to play right behind Wesley Sneijder. And, the Inter playmaker’s superb pass for Van Persie aside, they simply couldn’t really get the ball up to the Arsenal forward.

It is one of the main reasons why, on the whole, they are – and always have been – a few levels below Spain and Germany. And why it’s going to take an individual, like Van Persie, to rise above it all to win it. It may be asking too much.

Credit: EMPICS Sport/EMPICS Sport

Mario makes up for his misses

While Van Persie was generally lauded towards the end of the season, though, Mario Gomez was made a figure of ridicule. Tonight, he produced the only figure that mattered, and his goal was beautifully taken. The pity for Bayern Munich, of course, is that it came 73 minutes too late.

In general, this was quite a flat performance from Germany. And, for that matter, Portugal. You do have to wonder, though, how much the Netherlands’ slip subconsciously affected the performances of both teams.

In many ways, it might have killed the excitement of the group of death.

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For their part, though, the Germans weren’t exactly fearsome. They left an awful lot of gaps at the back, and Portugal really should have taken one of their chances late on.

Has the pendulum swung back towards Spain despite Germany’s win? We’ll find out today.

Credit: Adam Davy/EMPICS Sport

Average goals per game so far: 2.25

Good day for:

  • Reactive, defensive-based football
  • Those who knowingly – and cleverly – tipped Denmark

Bad day for:

  • The Dutch
  • Robin van Persie
  • Varela

As it happened: Germany v Portugal, Euro 2012

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