EURO 2012 IS UNFOLDING AS IT SHOULD! The group stage is over (for me, at least) and I can stop having a heart attack every five seconds.
Germany are heavy favourites to win this tournament, but this does not give me one iota of reassurance given that a) weird stuff can and does happen at tournaments [see also: the Netherlands' epic flame out with three straight losses], and b) you should never underestimate anyone’s ability to choke when it counts, even if they’re generally a great team. THIS BRINGS ME SO MUCH STRESS. Some thoughts!
Germany 1 – Portugal 0
Stressful, stressful watching. When you get used to Germany scoring multiple goals in a game and dominating early on, waiting until the 72nd minute for the only goal to be scored feels worrying. This was not the most confident of displays I’ve ever seen from Germany, but a win is a win and given that they were still finding their feet having not really had much training together as a team before the tournament, this result is fine. It’s a win, of course it’s fine. Mats Hummels was a total beast in this game and I think Per Mertesacker has pretty much seen the last of his days as a starter.
Netherlands 1 – Germany 2
This is the kind of game that makes me sick with delight. I don’t think that Germany have yet hit their stride in this tournament, but this game was a good preview of what I think they’re capable of. Their best games are frequently the ones in which Schweinsteiger is the one controlling every last aspect of what is happening on the pitch, and he was a complete boss in this match in the way he frequently was during the 2010 World Cup. The Schweinsteiger/Gomez bromance is my favourite on the team and their chemistry in this game was undeniable. LOVE THESE TWO.
Germany 2 – Denmark 1
I feel bad for Denmark because they played well in their three games without getting the results they needed so I’m sorry to see them eliminated from the tournament. Daniel Agger was pretty flawless in this game, but when your game-changing substitution is Christian Poulsen you know your team has larger problems. I thought Lars Bender acquitted himself okay in an unfamiliar right back role in Jerome Boateng’s absence, but definitely made up for any errors or shaky moments by scoring that all important second goal. The permutations of who would make the quarter-finals in this group were many and varied, and although Germany would have gone through on a draw without any issue, that second goal ensured that even if Denmark somehow went ahead 3-2 and Germany lost, they’d still advance. So: yay! Plus it was Bender’s first start for the senior team, so that’s nice.
Germany face Greece on Friday in the quarter-final and I assume they’ll be able to beat them, but stranger things have happened. Although Bender is currently everyone’s favourite, Boateng should be back for this game. I suspect Mario Gomez will continue to start as well, which I do not have a problem with although the rest of the internet seems to.
I’d like to see Germany in their green kits at some point this tournament, though. Make it happen, kit man!