Denmark is the easiest team to beat in this group. As the Netherlands found, that doesn’t mean beating them would be easy. The Portuguese are well familiar with Denmark, having been paired with them in their past two qualifying groups. Portugal won just one of the four matches. In that match, the Danes were missing about half their Starting XI.
We should not attribute the Danish win against Holland entirely to fortune, though it was, largely, the product of poor Dutch finishing. The Danes conceded 32 shots and 11 corners. None of the chances were converted. You may see Denmark opt to start Michael Silberbauer in this match [Update: Or not]. The more defensively minded midfielder man-marked Ronaldo well when Denmark beat Portugal in October.
Portugal had the opposite luck last round. They outplayed Germany and were foiled by great saves from Manuel Neuer and the cross bar as well as some excellent last-line defending by Mats Hummels. The 11-2 corner ratio is testament to the incisiveness of Portugal’s attacks. The Portuguese mistake was waiting until they went down in the final 20 minutes to ratchet up the pressure. The Germans were vulnerable. Deserving a draw, at least, they lost. As a consequence, a win here is crucial.
[Photo via Getty]