Denmark won their first game, Portugal lost theirs – and Denmark beat Portugal 2-1 in Copenhagen in October. Yet Portugal are favourites here because they looked good losing to Germany, while Denmark’s game against Holland had, for long periods, all the accuracy and panache of a blindfold jelly-throwing contest in a canoe. The Group of Death, on that evidence, was more like the Group of Clumsy Self-Harm.
Portugal sat deep against Germany: the BBC pundits cried like children because there weren’t any goals in the first half, but it was a fascinating contest. Portugal’s strategy was the natural one against a brilliant counter-attacking team, and they executed it well: when they went behind to a (slightly streaky) Mario Gomez goal, they attacked themselves and were good at that too, very nearly equalising.
Portugal’s weakness is up front. Against Germany they would, as usual, have been better off giving Helder Postiga the day off and replacing him with a lifesize cardboard cutout, in the hope that the ball would bounce off it into the goal. Nelson Oliveira, a young buck with a promising hipster beard, came on for Postiga during the game and might start here as Portugal go for the win.
SCANDINAVIAN LIBERALISM: Denmark pooh-pooh the current trend for defending with eight or nine players, with ageing speed freak Dennis Rommedahl particularly keen to stay up the pitch, and they like to play short passes out from the back. They were almost suicidally open for most of the Holland game – it’s just that the Dutch missed all their chances. Portugal will be hopeful.
COULD DO BETTER: Danish playmaker Christian Eriksen has been talked up as a superstar by Europe’s football writers, while striker Nicklas Bendtner (above) has been talked up by Nicklas Bendtner. Neither did a thing against Holland; both have something to prove.
PREDICTION: Only a complete idiot forecasts more than four goals in a game at international level these days. 4-2 to Portugal.