The “Group of Death” comes to a finish today and it will claim a high-profile victim. Germany has the advantage with a three-point lead. All four teams are eligible to advance or to be eliminated. Germany, Denmark and Portugal can still win the group.
Germany [6pts] Germany wins the group with a point against DEN. Germany can advance with a loss and a NED win/draw or a one-goal loss to DEN in which it scores more than two goals (3-2, 4-3, 5-4).
Portugal [3pts] Portugal advances with a win/draw over NED and a GER result. Portugal can advance with a one-goal loss to NED and a GER win. A one-goal GER loss where GER scores more than two eliminates Portugal regardless of the NED result.
Denmark [3pts] Denmark advances with a win over GER. They also advance with a draw and a NED win. If they lose they are eliminated.
Netherlands [0pts] The Netherlands only can advance with a two-goal win over POR and a GER win over DEN.
Three-Way Tie [GER, DEN, POR on 6 pts] This happens if DEN and POR win. The tie-breaking procedure progresses to a mini-group, throwing out the NED wins. GER/DEN/POR would still be tied on three points. If DEN wins 1-0, all three are even on goal difference and DEN and POR advance on goals scored (POR wins group w/head to head against DEN). If DEN wins 2-1 or greater, DEN wins group on either mini-group goal difference or goals scored w/POR in second on goals scored. If DEN wins 3-2, DEN wins group and GER advances over POR on head to head result. If DEN wins 4-3 or 5-4, DEN wins group and GER advances over POR on mini-group goals scored.
Three-Way Tie [NED, DEN, POR on 3 pts] This happens if GER and NED win. GER wins group. DEN is eliminated . If NED beats POR 1-0, NED is eliminated on mini-group goal difference and POR beats DEN on head to head result. If NED beats POR with a 2-1 or higher one-goal win, NED is eliminated on mini-group goal difference and POR beats DEN on mini-group goals. If NED beats POR by two goals or more, NED advances on mini-group goal difference.
Here is a look at the matches.
Netherlands vs. Portugal: This is a rematch of the infamous “Battle of Nuremberg” in the 2006 World Cup. These teams met in the first knockout round. Portugal advanced to the quarterfinals with a 1-0 win. The brutal match set FIFA records for red cards (4) and yellow cards (16). The Dutch return seven who featured in that match. The only present Portugal player was Cristiano Ronaldo.
Today, Portugal will sit back and try to counter. The Dutch, knowing they must win by two, will start Huntelaar and Van der Vaart (Van Bommel dropped) and attack relentlessly. Better finishing would have seen Holland earn at least a point against Denmark and possibly Germany. Today they need to execute, and get a little bit of fortune.
Germany vs. Denmark: On paper, the Mannschaft should meet minimal resistance. One would have said that before the Euro 1992 final when Denmark upset Germany 2-0. Unlike that team, the present Danes don’t defend well. Hellacious finishing let them survive a 31-shot barrage from the Dutch unscathed. They conceded three goals in the second match to a not so adventurous Portugal team. Cristiano Ronaldo could have made it five. Germany fields a better player at all 11 positions and should smother the ball and systematically flatten them.
Collusion: This is the reason the last matches are played simultaneously. Nothing will be prearranged, but German and Danish players will be kept abreast of the Portugal/Netherlands score. If Germany and Denmark are tied in the second half and Holland has the game in hand, you might see both teams kick the ball around, draw and advance. You could see a similar scene if the Danes take a 3-2 lead.
Prediction: Germany beats Denmark and wins Group. Portugal draws Netherlands to advance in second.
[Photos via Getty]