European Championships: Germany, Denmark edge on as matches provide shock waves


    The Dutch national team got off to a lackluster start at the European Championships with a 1-0 loss to Denmark, but they will come back in full force in their next match against Germany.

    The team was expected to contend for the title, after finishing runner-up at the 2010 World Cup and are bringing back many of the same players.

    They are the No. 4 ranked team in the world and have an incredible stable of talented attackers.

    Despite losing the opening match, the Dutch are by no means doomed to an early exit. They did, however, make their path out of the “group of death” significantly more difficult.

    The Netherlands’ next game is against Germany, the world’s No. 3 team and one of the favorites to win the tournament.

    If the Dutch fail to walk away from that match with at least a point, it will be nearly impossible for them to advance. While a tie will keep them alive, a win would get them back on track.

    Holland headed into their encounter with Denmark as the strong favourites to take maximum points. However, what unfolded was one of the biggest shocks in recent European Championships history as the Danes prospered by one goal to nil.

    Here, Sports Mole provides some analysis of the 90 minutes in the Metalist Stadium.

    Holland Statistics: Shots 32
    On target 5
    Possession 53%
    Corners 11
    Fouls 7

    Denmark Statistics: Shots 8
    On target 4
    Possession 47%
    Corners 4
    Fouls 11

    Was the result fair?

    In terms of possession, attempts on goal, corners and free-kicks then you would have to say that the result was not fair. However, goals are what count in football and the scoreline shows Denmark made the most of their opportunities.

    Holland’s performance

    The Dutch did everything but score a goal. Their build-up play, with Wesley Sneijder conducting proceedings, was a joy to watch at times. However, the finishing of Robin van PersieArjen Robben andKlaas Jan Huntelaar left a lot to be desired.

    Denmark’s performance

    Chelsea supporters will have enjoyed watching the Danes this evening! Their performance was almost a carbon copy of the one that the Blues put in during the Champions League final against Bayern Munich in May. They showed why they only shipped six goals during qualifying.

    Sports Mole’s man of the match

    Daniel Agger: The Liverpool and Denmark defender didn’t miss a trick as the Dutch were left frustrated. His ability in the air all but ruled out any chance Holland had from crosses. Special mentions to his teammateMichael Krohn-Dehli and Holland’s Sneijder.

    Referee performance

    By and large Damir Skomina had a decent game. However, the Slovenian missed a certain penalty in stoppage time when Denmark defender Lars Jacobson handled inside the area.

    Biggest gaffe of the game

    With just the goalkeeper to beat in the 50th minute, Van Persie preceded to trip over his own feet and fall flat on his face.

    What next?

    Holland: It is hard to believe that Holland will finish as badly in their remaining games. However, they will not create as many chances against Portugal and Germany. It will be tough for them to qualify now.

    Denmark: Who knows after this result?! A point in their remaining two matches (depending on other results) could squeeze them through.

    What will happen when Holland plays Germany on June 13?

    This team is loaded with talent, even if that was not always apparent in the match with Denmark. The attacking players were not sharp in the offensive third of the field, and their touches were just slightly off in crucial situations.

    The team was able to pressure the Danish defense and create chances, evidenced by their 28 shots, but none the attackers were able to put the ball in the back of the net.

    The problem with the Netherlands has nothing to do with a failing strategy or a lack of talent, it is simply a matter of focus and form.

    Regardless of what caused the underwhelming outing, the team will rectify the loss with a monster win against the Germans.

    Germany brings a squad that features top-class footballers at every position, and only Spain can hope to match up with them on paper.

    However, Holland’s attack is capable of running circles around any defense in the tournament. They looked out of sorts in the opening game, but the same players were electrifying at times during the last World Cup.

    With creative playmakers like Wesley Sneijder and Rafael van der Vaart, the team will get its chances. Potent goalscorers like Arjen Robben, Robin van Persie and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar will perform better in the decisive match.

    The Dutch players’ tournament life will be on the line against Germany, and this will coax inspired performances out of these world-class talents.

    If these players are at the top of their games, not even the Germans can keep them out of the goal.

    Meanwhile, as the tournament kicked off on Friday, co hosts Poland offered up a charming opening ceremony to the Euro 2012 and an entertaining 1-1 draw with Greece before Russia provided the offensive fireworks in a 4-1 beating of the Czech Republic.

    Party poopers Greece dashed Poland’s dream of a flying start to their Euro 2012 campaign with a 1-1 draw in front of a capacity crowd at Warsaw’s National Stadium.

    Both teams saw a player get sent off and Poland’s back-up keeper Przemyslaw Tyton saved the one point by stopping captain Giorgios Karagounis’s penalty, which was caused by Polish number one goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.

    Polish striker Robert Lewandowski lived up to the pre-tournament hype about his persona in giving the co-hosts the lead in the 17th minute.

    The Greeks went a man down after 44 minutes when defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos was booked a second time. But the 2004 European champs remained resilient and equalized in the 51st minute through substitute Dimitris Salpingidis.

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    The match followed a colorful opening ceremony that featured a short etude from famed Polish composer Frederic Chopin and 800 dancers twirling in flowing colors of the Polish and Ukrainian national flags.

    Another symbolic highlight of the 12.5-minute show was a young boy dressed in the colors of the Polish flag shaking hands with a boy wearing Ukrainian colors.

    In the second group A match, Russia offered plenty of highlights with a dominating 4-1 victory over the Czech Republic in Wroclaw, Poland.

    The 21-year-old emerging star midfielder Alan Dzagoev scored two goals and substitute Roman Pavlyuchenko scored one and set up another for the 2008 semifinalists.

    Russia’s scoring came in two short bursts of nine minutes in the first half and three minutes in the second. Dzagoev opened the scoring for Dick Advocaat’s side in the 15th minute and Roman Shirokov finished a fine attack to make it 2-0 after 24 minutes.

    Vaclav Pilar pulled a goal back for the Czechs in the 52nd minute, but the Russians proved too lethal again in the later stages. Just six minutes after coming into the game, Pavlyuchenko set up Dzagoev’s second strike in the 79th minute and tallied his own goal in the 82nd.

    The action on the pitch was somewhat overshadowed by the on-going attention to racist comments aimed towards the Dutch camp.

    UEFA felt complied Friday to say it would not tolerate racism and would seek measures to protect players from racial abuse if there was any repeat of a training incident in which Dutch players said they heard monkey chants from fans.

    “UEFA has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to discriminatory behavior and has given the power to referees to stop matches in case of any repeated racist behavior,” UEFA said in a statement.

    -Bleachers reports/Sports Mole