Top o’ the morning to all three of you!
W. Mittens Romney thinks you’re lazy scum , but we think you’re pretty OK and have therefore crafted this review of the first two matchdays in the Dreaded Group of Death for your entertainment and/or procrastination at your menial employment.
After the Portuguese eked out a victory over Denmark yesterday, your correspondent prayed to Zombie Jesus that the Netherlands would beat Germany 3-2. This would have put all four teams on the exact same points, goal difference, and goals scored and would have made for a completely frantic final day of Group B action. But it wasn’t to be, because Islam is the one true faith and God hates us all.
The Netherlands: At seemingly every tournament, there is a heavily fancied team that falls flat on its face, to the delight of haters everywhere. In recent years the French have collapsed under the weight of expectations (and Die Wehrmacht), but now it appears that fear and loathing has come to the Oranj.
Played two, lost two, scored one, conceded three. Oh noes. Until very late in their match against Deutschland, the Oranj were the only team at Euro 2012 not to have scored a goal. This, despite having the leading goalscorers in the English Premier League and the German Bundesliga in their squad, oy vey.
Noted space alien Arjen Robben was a spectator in both of Holland’s matches, Robin Van Persie finally found his form in the last 10 minutes of yesterday’s loss to Germany, and Wesley Sneijder seems to be the only Dutch player who is bothered enough to run around after the first 15 minutes. The Dutch looked like world beaters in the first few minutes of each of their matches, but completely fell apart after conceding a goal.
Somehow, the Dutch are not yet eliminated from the unforgiving Group of Death. Howevah, they need help. Their task is to defeat the Portuguese by at least two goals. This would put them even with Portugal on the goal difference and goals scored tiebreakers, but ahead of the Portuguese on the third tiebreaker: their head to head result. If they can manage this, and it’s not improbable by any stretch that they could, they will also need ze Germans to do them a favor and beat Denmark when all the Germans need to advance is a draw.
Portugal: For 90 minutes yesterday, your eagle-eyed fútbol correspondent could have sworn that C**t Ronaldo had taken the day off and left his incompetent identical twin brother Barry Ronaldo to run around against Denmark. The madrileño show pony was put clear through on goal twice and fluffed his shot twice, characteristic of a striker struggling with low confidence. Ronaldo is arguably the best footballer in Europe, so his performance yesterday was just baffling.
Fortunately, Portugal is not a one-man show. Pepe is a clown but took a very well-executed headed goal from a corner kick, Helder Postiga was on the business end of a simple, efficient team effort for Portugal’s second, and Nani picked up Ronaldo’s slack with excellent runs, passes, and crosses. Still, they nearly conspired to piss it all away, allowing the Danes to get their act together in the second half and draw level. Only a last-minute goal from Silvestre Varela saved them from the brink of elimination. To qualify for the quarterfinals, Portugal needs to at least match whatever scoreline the Danes can manage against the Master Race (Germany), provided Portugal doesn’t lose by two or more goals.
Denmark instigated the first and only real upset to date at this tournament by sucker-punching the underwhelming Dutch on matchday two. For about four minutes yesterday, they were sitting very pretty indeed having fought back from a 2-0 deficit to Portugal to level the score. Nicklas Bendtner, who is an order of magnitude more donkey-ish even than Mario Gomez, delivered on two headers, one of which was set up perfectly and very unselfishly by the very impressive Michael Krohn-Dehli.
Had that scoreline remained as it was, and if the Dutch had still proceeded to lose to ze Germans, Holland would have been the first team eliminated from Euro 2012 and Portugal would have been on the brink of joining them. Howevah, a desperate siege on the Danish goal in the last minutes of the game paid off for Portugal, despite C**t Ronaldo whiffing completely, like your correspondent used to do at tee ball.
Realistically, the Danes now need a result against ze Germans. They could lose and go through, but only if they lose by one goal AND if the Dutch beat Portugal by one goal. If the Danes manage to beat Germany, they would be assured of a quarterfinal place. If they draw, they need to score at least one goal if Portugal draws with Holland; if they end at 0-0 then Portugal must lose.
Ze Germans are cruising to a quarterfinal matchup with probably either the Czech Republic or Poland, two countries that were invaded by Germany within living memory, although that is true of basically every nation at the tournament except Portugal, Spain, and the Republic of Ireland. So that’s nice.
Whereas their opening victory against Portugal was workmanlike and not very impressive, the Germans came out against the Netherlands smelling blood in the water. After soaking up Dutch pressure for fifteen minutes, Mesut Özil rattled the Dutch crossbar with a dipping volley and his teammates broke the deadlock soon thereafter, Bastian Schweinsteiger having far too much time and space to pick out Señor Gomez to pirouette clear of the statuesque Dutch back line and score.
Once it was obvious that the entire left side of Holland’s formation was defensively dodgy, the rout was on and Germany scored again, Herr Schweinsteiger combining once more with Gomez to put the Dutch in a real hole. The Dutch goalkeeper Martin Stekelenburg was at full stretch to repel the last kick of the first half from his goal, which would otherwise have killed the game as a contest.
The Teutonic Titans and their assorted token ethnic minority representatives have one foot in the quarterfinals, but their job is not yet complete despite amassing as many points (6) as their three group opponents combined. A draw by any scoreline will win the group, but if they lose to Denmark they could be eliminated if Portugal defeats Holland by enough of a margin to swing their goal difference ahead of Germany’s.