Well, the draw for the finals of Euro 2012 has been made…
OK, so it’s not as bad as the much-feared Spain-Portugal-France combo, but pretty tough all the same. Drawn in Group B based in the Ukraine, the Mannschaft have been grouped with our old friends from the Netherlands, recent tournament opponents Portugal and unfancied but never to be underestimated Denmark, last encountered in international competition two decades ago.
Germany have met the Netherlands four times in past European Championship finals, winning once (3-2, 1980) drawing once (1-1, 2004) and losing twice (1-2, 1988 and 1-3, 1992). An exciting encounter is guaranteed, with the only downside being that the match has been scheduled to take place in the rather dreary Ukrainian city of Kharkiv. Joachim Löw’s side currently have the psychological edge on the Oranje after the recent 3-0 friendly win in Hamburg, but as always the Dutch can never be underestimated.
Three meetings have taken place between Germany and Portugal in the Euros, with honours even with a win apiece and one draw. The first meeting between the two sides in 1984 saw a dour goalless affair, while the encounter in 2000 produced one of the worst performances in the history of the Nationalmannschaft as Erich Ribbeck’s side were beaten 3-0 by the Portuguese reserves. The most recent meeting in 2008 saw Germany exact some measure of revenge with an exciting 3-2 win at the quarter-final stage.
Denmark have met Germany twice in past Euro tournaments, with both teams having a win apiece. In 1988 the Mannschaft achieved a 2-0 win, while four years later in Sweden the Danes reversed the scoreline in what was their one and only major tournament final.
Germany’s group is coupled together with Group A, probably the weakest of the four groups featuring Poland, Russia, Greece and the Czech Republic – in the words of blogger RedRobbery, a group “as ugly as Uli Stelike’s jacket”. Should the Mannschaft successfully navigate their way through their first phase group, a fairly comfortable quarter-final in either Warsaw or Gdańsk should await them.
The other groups have thrown up some interesting combinations: in Group C reigning champions Spain have been put together with the dangerous Italians, the unpredictable Croats and the continually underestimated Republic of Ireland, while a nicely balanced Group D sees hosts Ukraine together with England, France and Sweden.
Here are the four groups:
Group A: Poland, Russia, Greece, Czech Republic
Group B: Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Portugal
Group C: Spain, Italy, Croatia, Republic of Ireland
Group D: Ukraine, England, Sweden, France
In what looks like a new feature in a major tournament there are no afternoon kick-offs, with all matches starting at 19:00 and 21:45 Eastern European Summer Time (Poland UTC+2, Ukraine, URC+3). All three of Germany’s fixtures have the late start, which is maybe just as well as they always seem to do better in the evening…
Germany’s fixtures can be seen in more detail in the dedicated Euro 2012 section, but are as follows:
09.06.2012 v Portugal, Lviv (21:45)
13.06.2012 v Netherlands, Kharkiv (21:45)
17.06.2012 v Denmark, Lviv (21:45)