Two games out of two, six points, and one more needed to guarantee a “home” quarter-final in the Mannschaft’s base in Danzig. Next up, Denmark – northern neighbours and recent rivals who have provided some entertaining moments in recent European Championship finals.
Team selection has become easy for Nationaltrainer Joachim Löw: the defence are functioning far better than expected, the star-studded midfield has done enough without really firing, and up front the much-criticised Mario Gómez has finally come good with all of the team’s three goals so far.
The only selection issue is an enforced one, with right-back Jérôme Boateng out of contention having picked up his second yellow card of the tournament against the Netherlands on Wednesday. Alternatives include Benedikt Höwedes and Lars Bender, and latest reports have suggested that the coach is leaning towards the versatile Bayer 04 Leverkusen man.
The complete lack of the usual drama around the issue of the starting eleven means that there’s little to discuss – perhaps the biggest story is that Lukas Podolski should win his hundredth international cap, making him the youngest German player to achieve the feat in the shortest possible time. More on that here.
The State of Denmark
Opponents Denmark have an excellent chance of making the knock-out stage, and dependent on what goes on in the other final match between the Netherlands and Portugal Morten Olsen’s side could find a place on the last eight even if they lose. There are far too many calculations, combinations and permutations for me to list here, but things might just get a little tight.
After pulling off what was a seen by many as a genuine shock with their 1-0 win against the Netherlands, the Danes almost snatched a point out of nothing against Portugal, coming back from two goals down only to suffer a hammer blow in the final minutes. They will certainly be no pushovers for the Mannschaft, who cannot afford to take things for granted.
Denmark will be missing the experienced Dennis Rommedahl which will reduce one of their their threats down the flanks, but the unheralded Brøndby IF winger Michael Krohn-Dehli remains a danger – as does sponsored flasher Nicklas Bendtner, who scored both of his team’s goals against Portugal.
Facts and Stats
Germany have played Denmark twenty-five times overall, winning fourteen, drawing three and losing on eight occasions. The two sides have met just twice before at the Euros, with the Nationmannschaft winning the first encounter 2-0 in 1988 and the Danes producing the same result in the 1992 final in Göteborg.
In competitive fixtures the two teams have met each other on three occasions, with the Danes having the better of things with two wins against Germany’s one. As well as the two European Championship meetings in 1988 and 1992, the one other meeting took place in the group phase of the 1986 FIFA World Cup, with Denmark winning – again by the score of 2-0.
Germany’s recent form against Denmark under Jogi Löw hasn’t been fantastic, with the Mannschaft suffering a 1-0 defeat in Duisburg in 2007 before blowing a two-goal lead in Købnhavn a the autumn of 2010 as the Danes came back to snatch a draw. It is worth noting however both of these German sides had been highly experimental, something that will not be the case when the two sides meet in the Arena Lviv tomorrow.
Once again, it’s a simple case of “as you were” with the starting eleven, with emergency draftee Bender the only new kid on the block. The Leverkusen youngster has had two tiny cameo roles so far, appearing against both Portugal and the Netherlands in injury time. I can’t really make much of a judgement on his form as he didn’t much of a runout in the pre-tournament friendlies either, but he must be doing something right.
Neuer – Bender, Hummels, Badstuber, Lahm (c) – Khedira, Schweinsteiger – Müller, Özil, Podolski – Gómez
OK, this is not really my thing as I prefer to take these tournaments match by match, but after this evening’s dramatic pair of results in Group A – which saw the Czech Republic and Greece advance at the expense of the high-rated Russia and hosts Poland – I could help but notice that Germany could well be looking at a quarter-final in Danzig against the Greeks. Most interesting.
Until tomorrow, bis bald!