Danish perspective: Joe Short
It was all going so well until Silvestre Varela popped up to ruin Denmark’s golden chance of progressing from the group stage. The game plan had just about worked and Morten Olsen’s side had deservedly clawed their way back into Wednesday’s fixture against a buoyant Portuguese side.
Nicklas Bendtner was just moments away from being a national hero once again, and with four points in Group B, Denmark would have been in a strong position to qualify for the quarter-finals.
But it wasn’t to be. Varela’s strike was a heart-breaking blow to the hopes of a nation rekindled by Bendtner’s brace. Now the Danes have it all to do against a merciless German side. With Portugal looking to pinch a win against a dilapidated Dutch set-up, Denmark need to pull something special out of the hat on Sunday evening.
Olsen can take heart in his side’s performance; Denmark dominated possession and kept Christiano Ronaldo at bay. Left-back Simon Poulsen was again cavalier down the flank, while William Kvist and substitute Jakob Poulsen held the ball well in the middle of the park. Yet poor defending in front of goal let them down, and Daniel Agger will need to provide a captain’s performance if he is to stop Mario Gomez from adding to his tournament tally.
It was Bendtner’s performance that most pleased the fans back home. The frustrating Arsenal striker looked utterly disinterested in Denmark’s 1-0 win over Holland last week, yet he was alert and ready on Wednesday. Bendter’s willingness to hold off Portuguese defenders and hang on the shoulder of the last man helped the team move up the field – something they struggled to do against Portugal.
The Germans will pose a far tougher challenge in Lviv, however, and Bendtner will need to be sprightly if the Danes are to do anything in the final third.
Score prediction: Denmark 1-1 Germany
Bendtner to score more than Gomez at 4.50; Denmark draw after losing at half time (2/X) at 16.00; Agger to get a card at 4.50.
German perspective: Terry Duffelen
"My goal is not to finish the tournament as top scorer but to win the title. That's all that matters." Those were the words spoken by Mario Gomez ahead of Germany's game against Denmark. The German striker took a lot of criticism in the Press after the Portugal match, despite scoring the only goal of the game. In the build-up to the match against the Netherlands it was suggested that he would be dropped for Miroslav Klose, but,coach Joachim Löw stuck with his initial choice of front man. His judgement was vindicated, not only by two goals of the highest quality, but also by a much-improved all-round performance.
Significant changes to the line-up are unlikely given that Germany need a point to be absolutely certain of qualification. Jerome Boateng is suspended, and will likely be replaced at right-back by Schalke's Benedikt Höwedes or Lars Bender of Bayer Leverkusen.
While the Germans are far less of a counter attacking side in 2012 than they were in 2010, Danish exuberance may force them onto the back foot. It would not be a surprise to see Germany go a goal behind. If that happens, then we may finally see one of André Schürrle, Marco Reus or Mario Götze take to the field in order to spice things up a bit. It is also likely that one or two of these exciting attacking players may be needed later in the tournament to cover injuries or suspensions, so Löw may be tempted to deploy one of them from the bench, irrespective of the score line.
Score prediction: Germany 2-1 Denmark
Germany 2-1 at 8.50; Germany to come from a goal behind at 8.00; André Schürrle to score the last goal at 8.75.