Over the next few nights we will be knocking these out, group by group, like the referees calling technicals on the Celtics last night.
Let's chop it up.
Ah yes, the Germans. Or, for our purposes, The 2012 New York Yankees. It is almost too easy to equate the Germans with the Yankees. They have expensive, talented and high profile players all over the park and their history in major tournaments is second to none. The Germans come into the tournament expecting to win, the Yankees go into every season expecting to win. Much like the Yankees, the Germans should be there or thereabouts come tournament end, their high profile, vast talent supplies and fanatical fan base simply demands it. But wait just eine moment bitte, are we talking about the Yankees or the Germans in that last sentence? Could be either, right?!
Robin van Persie and the Dutch are taking their talents to Poland this summer, and they are very much alike the ‘Big three’ era Miami Heat. Robin van Persie is played by LeBron James, and the out of form, hobbled Wesley Sneijder is of course played by Chris Bosh. The Dutch have some very high level talent, particularly in the form of Van Persie, however the sum of all their parts might not be enough to win the tournament, much like Miami. The Dutch continuously flatter to deceive, time after time they look primed to win, only to fall flat, and that’s almost exactly like the Heat. There is every chance Robin van Persie will, like LeBron, have the pundits drooling salaciously over his every move. Yet, there is also every chance both gentlemen will ultimately come up short.
There is no doubting the Portuguese prowess in attack, the problem lies in defence, where Portugal struggle to keep even the most inept sides from scoring on them. The one thing you can take to the bank when it comes to Portugal is they will field the greatest player in the tournament. Cristiano Ronaldo has no Lionel Messi to worry about (Argentina’s late application to become part of Europe in time for the tournament was roundly rejected) and the tournament is sitting there waiting for him to conquer it. He really is head and shoulders above the rest, which makes Portugal the Michael Jordan era Chicago Bulls. Like Jordan, on his day, in this tournament without Messi around stealing the spotlight, Ronaldo simply has no peer. He is, like Jordan, probably the one player who could win this tournament on his own.
Massive outsiders, largely written off before the tournament kicks off, the Danes do however have some very talented players and a superb team ethic. Much like the 2003/2004 Boston Red Sox teams. The super talented and quite possible insane Nicky Bendtner is played by Johnny Damon with a hint of Kevin Millar. Bendtner will be ably accompanied by twenty year-old Ajax starlet Christian Eriksen. In a small tournament (just 16 teams), on their day, anything can happen with this talented group.Whether, like the Red Sox, it ends bad (2003) or good (2004) remains to be seen!
Tune in tomorrow evening for Group C!
Follow Cormac on Twitter