The Group of Death: A famous term coined way back during World Cup 1958 when stalwarts Brazil, England, Soviet Union and Austria were drawn together.
54 years down the line, the term still remains a favourite among journalists and it was no surprise that it sprung up as soon as Netherlands, Portugal, Germany and Denmark were drawn in Group B of Euro 2012.
These are the teams below, with their full squads, a short insight into what they offer and a prediction which we feel (and secretly hope) is right.
NETHERLANDS – Ranked 4th in the world
Goalkeepers: Maarten Stekelenburg, Michel Vorm, Tim Krul.
Defenders: Khalid Boulahrouz, John Heitinga, Joris Mathijsen, Ron Vlaar, Wilfred Bouma, Gregory van der Wiel, Jetro Willems.
Midfielders: Ibrahim Afellay, Mark van Bommel, Nigel de Jong, Stijn Schaars, Wesley Sneijder, Kevin Strootman, Rafael van der Vaart.
Forwards: Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Luuk de Jong, Dirk Kuyt, Luciano Narsingh, Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben.
The ‘Oranje’ are certainly favourites for this year’s tournament after reaching the final of the 2010 World Cup. Not only that, but what makes them favourites is an exciting group of players who play a counter-attacking brand like no other team in the Euros. They have three brilliant goalkeepers and an apt defence whose only fault may be a quality left back. Their midfield will spark fear in the hearts of their opponents as soon as they imagine Robben, Sneijder, Van der Vaart and Afellay run towards them.
What makes it even more scary is the presence of Van Persie and Huntelaar up front—both clinical strikers with a combined 85 goals this season!
Prediction: Will qualify for last eight after finishing 1st in the group.
GERMANY- Ranked 3rd in the world
Goalkeepers: Manuel Neuer, Tim Wiese, Ron-Robert Zieler.
Defenders: Holger Badstuber, Jerome Boateng, Benedikt Howedes, Mats Hummels, Marcel Schmelzer, Philipp Lahm, Per Mertesacker.
Midfielders : Lars Bender, Toni Kroos, Thomas Mueller, Mesut Ozil, Sami Khedira, Marco Reus, Andre Schurrle, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Mario Gotze, Ilkay Gundogan.
Forwards: Miroslav Klose, Mario Gomez, Lukas Podolski.
Germany are at best described as ‘efficient’. Efficient to such a level that mistakes are just not allowed. The youngsters had a fantastic World Cup in 2010 and now come back with two more years of experience which will certainly have added to their skills. Nueur is a fine keeper supported by an able defence made up of some incredible center-backs (Badstuber, Boateng, Hummels and Mertesacker) and a fine captain in Philipp Lahm.
Their midfield has the creative Ozil along with the solidity of Schweinsteiger and Kroos. What will be the most interesting part though, is to watch what the young genius Mario Gotze can do at the highest stage. Klose, Podolski and Gomez need no introduction and are probably the best group of strikers any team in Europe has.
Prediction: Might lose or draw against Netherlands and thus finish 2nd in the group and qualify for the last eight.
PORTUGAL- Ranked 10th in the world
Goalkeepers: Rui Patricio, Eduardo, Beto
Defenders: Joao Pereira, Bruno Alves, Fabio Coentrao, Pepe, Ricardo Costa, Rolando, Miguel Lopes
Midfielders: Hugo Viana, Joao Moutinho, Miguel Veloso , Raul Meireles, Ruben Micael, Custodio
Strikers: Cristiano Ronaldo, Hugo Almeida, Helder Postiga, Nani, Nelson Oliveira, Ricardo Quaresma, Silvestre Varela
This is a team which is very good on the flanks and lacks the comparative quality in the middle. All their good players love sticking to the wings, with Ronaldo, Nani, Coentrao and Quaresma all used to hugging the line. This will certainly force Ronaldo to play striker. Not that he will mind but able support may desert him when it comes to excellence in the centre of the park. Meireles has had an on and off season and Moutinho is as close as it gets to being creative.
Prediction: Will finish 3rd in the group and narrowly miss out on the last eight.
DENMARK- Ranked 9th in the world
Goalkeepers: Thomas Sorensen, Stephan Andersen, Anders Lindegaard.
Defenders: Lars Jacobsen, Michael Silberbauer, Simon Busk Poulsen, Daniel Wass, Simon Kjaer, Daniel Agger, Andreas Bjelland, Jannik Vestergaard.
Midfielders: William Kvist, Christian Poulsen, Niki Zimling, Jakob Poulsen, Lasse Schone, Christian Eriksen.
Forwards: Dennis Rommedahl, Tobias Mikkelsen, Michael Krohn-Dehli, Thomas Kahlenberg, Nicklas Bendtner, Nicklas Pedersen.
Denmark are a team that usually qualify for all major tournaments only to fizzle out at the group stage without making any sort of impression. And they probably know their limitations.
The men to watch are certainly Eriksen and Kjaer—two young players with oodles of potential waiting to be tapped. Eriksen had scouts from big club coming to watch him all year round. He will certainly take this opportunity to let Ajax ask for a larger price than they were planning to. Kjaer himself is one of Europe’s most wanted centre-backs and will be at the heart of defence. In spite of decent talent in the squad, they are not likely to go anywhere far.
Prediction: Bottom of the group elimination unless they spring a massive surprise.