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NU-Mad - Euro 2012 Profile Group B

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30 May 2012 13:07:29

NU-Mad - Euro 2012 Profile Group B

Euro 2012 - profile Group B Group B NetherlandsDenmark Germany Portugal

NETHERLANDS

HOW DO THEY PLAY?

Coach Bert van Marwijk is first and foremost a pragmatist. His preference for two defensive midfielders is still a bone of contention at home, just as it was when they reached the 2010 World Cup final. Wesley Sneijder's improved form in recent weeks is a huge boost. Along with Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie, he makes the Oranje serious contenders. One problem is that van Marwijk's formation makes it difficult to accommodate on-fire Klass-Jan Huntelaar, who scored against England in February.

Likely formation: 4-2-3-1

Possible starting XI: Maarten Stekelenburg, Gregory van der Wiel, John Heitinga, Joris Mathijsen, Vurnon Anita, Mark van Bommel, Kevin Strootman, Dirk Kuyt, Wesley Sneijder, Arjen Robben, Robin van Persie

STAR MAN

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (pictured right) had to settle for a place on the bench at the 2010 World Cup, but the Schalke striker pressed his claims for a regular starting spot with a red-hot 12 goals in eight qualifiers. While 'The Hunter' filled his boots against minnows San Marino, scoring five times in total, he also netted in both matches against Group E runners-up Sweden.

The 28-year-old has regained confidence following a permanent move to Schalke from Real Madrid.

Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk's preference is for a 4-2-3-1 formation, meaning there is only one striking spot up for grabs - which, in turn, means either Huntelaar or Robin van Persie could miss out. Hard to imagine, given the Arsenal striker's searing form.

Huntelaar started the first four qualifiers before picking up a knee injury which ruled him out of the double header against Hungary. Van Persie netted in both games against the Hungarians and kept his place for June's glamour friendly against Brazil, prompting Huntelaar to ask for "a little more faith" from Van Marwijk. Perhaps a tactical change is on the cards.

ONE TO WATCH

After winning rave reviews for his punishingly impressive consistency in the heart of midfield, PSV Eindhoven's 22-year-old captain Kevin Strootman is being called 'the new Roy Keane' in some quarters, having quickly established himself as a key player for both club and country. Strootman is vying with Manchester City's Nigel de Jong for a starting role, having only made his debut in February 2011.

DENMARK

HOW DO THEY PLAY?

Former Denmark midfielder Jan Molby: "We have the same manager in Morten Olsen, who has been in charge for 12 years, and we play 4-3-3 and we play it extremely well. All the players will know their jobs and I think that's what international football is all about.

"The main players are a lone striker Nicklas Bendtner and we have a great player in the midfield with Christian Eriksen. But our best player is Daniel Agger, he's the one who keeps our defence together and if he plays well we have a chance. Eriksen is good enough to have an impact at the Euros and he has learned more about his responsibilities now."

Likely formation: 4-3-3

Possible starting XI: Thomas Sorensen; Lars Jacobsen, Simon Kjær, Daniel Agger, Simon Poulsen; Niki Zimling, Christian Eriksen, William Kvist; Dennis Rommedahl, Nicklas Bendtner, Thomas Kahlenberg.

STAR MAN

Christian Eriksen (pictured right) was the youngest player at the 2010 World Cup, but the 18-year-old was restricted to two substitute appearances, spending a total of 44 minutes on the pitch. However, it is hard to imagine the Ajax player will be a peripheral figure at Euro 2012.

In the last 18 months the attacking midfielder has established himself as first-choice for club and country. Often compared to Denmark great Michael Laudrup, former Ajax manager Martin Jol has likened Eriksen to Dutch stars Wesley Sneijder and Rafael van der Vaart.

Eriksen had two trials with Chelsea before joining Ajax in 2008. However, the Blues felt he was not strong enough for the Premier League, according to the player's father, who feels his son would be better suited to Spanish football. Eriksen is contracted to Ajax until 2014 and has indicated he is unlikely to leave before then.

ONE TO WATCH

Simon Kjaer is looking to get his career back on track at Roma after an unhappy spell with Wolfsburg. The 22-year-old defender moved to the Bundesliga side from Palermo for a reported £12m fee, but admits he struggled to adapt to German football.

Kjaer started two games at the 2010 World Cup, setting up a goal against Cameroon with a glorious cross-field pass, and was a regular in qualifying for Euro 2012.

GERMANY

HOW DO THEY PLAY?

Germany's game has become more possession based since the 2010 World Cup. They look to dominate in midfield and rapidly change positions up front; the front four are very fluid - especially if veteran forward Miroslav Klose recovers in time. Joachim Loew has also tried slight modifications to the formation, in order to make the team less predictable. In recent friendlies against the Netherlands and Brazil, Germany played with attacking verve and a level of creativity that had the domestic critics drooling with full-back Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mesut Ozil the key men to make the system function.

Likely formation: 4-2-3-1

Possible starting XI: Manuel Neuer; Philipp Lahm, Mats Hummels, Holger Badstuber, Marcel Schmelzer; Bastian Schweinsteiger, Sami Khedira; Thomas Mueller, Mesut Ozil, Lucas Podolski; Mario Gomez

STAR MAN

Relatively unknown to the masses before the 2010 World Cup, Mesut Ozil (pictured right) exploded onto the international scene with a series of eye-catching displays in South Africa as Germany played some of their most offensive football in memory.

After being nominated for the Golden Ball Award - given to the tournament's best player - the 23-year-old 'Number 10' soon moved from Werder Bremen to Spanish giants Real Madrid. He racked up seven assists in the qualifying campaign.

ONE TO WATCH

The time could be right for Bayern Munich's visionary young midfielder Toni Kroos to shine after an influential qualifying campaign. He won the Golden Ball for the best player at the 2007 FIFA Under-17 World Cup.

But it's Borussia Dortmund's little 19-year-old Mario Gotze who really has Nationalmannschaft hearts racing.

Quick feet, flawless technical skills, endlessly creative - some say he's a Messi in the making. Germany's technical director Matthias Sammer says he is one of the best young players he has ever seen. Has helped club side to past two German league title.

PORTUGAL

HOW DO THEY PLAY?

Portugal have evolved in the last 18 months in the image of their coach Paulo Bento; discreetly, but decisively. Gone is the miserable circumspection of the Carlos Queiroz era. The current crop is no 2004 vintage, but they move the ball fluently and attack with vim.

The key to this is a happier Cristiano Ronaldo, allowed to flourish under Bento while he was fettered by Queiroz's system. The movement of the midfield three also means Portugal are now an entertaining prospect.

Likely formation: 4-3-3

Possible starting XI: Rui Patrício, João Pereira, Bruno Alves, Pepe, Fábio Coentrão, Miguel Veloso, Raul Meireles, João Moutinho, Nani, Cristiano Ronaldo, Hélder Postiga

STAR MAN

No introduction needed for Cristiano Ronaldo (pictured right) - only Lionel Messi can claim to be as good as the Real Madrid phenomenon. Officially the second-best player in the world - behind Barcelona's Argentine magician - Ronaldo has it all: pace, power, dribbling, heading, shooting, vision, passion.

Ronaldo demands the limelight on the biggest stage possible, just as he did for Manchester United. Has now scored an outrageous 112 goals in 102 league games in two years in Spain, and led exultant Madrid to the La Liga title this season as they finally got the better of Barcelona. Boss Jose Mourinho insists he should win the Ballon D'Or.

ONE TO WATCH

Sporting Lisbon, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Chelsea. Ricardo Quaresma has represented some of the biggest clubs in Europe, but never truly made it big. Hyped as a gifted young talent upon making his Portugal debut in 2003, the winger has failed to live up to expectations. But, still, there is hope. Now playing for Besiktas in Turkey, Quaresma was called up to the national squad in 2010 - after a two-year absence - and played in four of Portugal's qualifiers. This is his last-chance saloon.

 


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