Last updated at 19:45, Saturday 9th June 2012

Solid start for Mannschaft


Mike Holden
Euro 2012 - Germany v Portugal
1pt Germany to beat Portugal to nil at 11/4Germans can be trusted to limit the threat posed by Ronaldo and Nani coming in from wide areas.

Such is the fierce nature of the competition, the draw for Euro 2012 has thrown up a trio of heavyweight blockbusters in the opening round of group games but Germany v Portugal is the only one that we believe would make a fitting final in Kiev on July 1.

The credentials of Germany and Spain are without question. But whereas the respective records of Italy, England and France have been patchy over the past four years, Portugal have remained true to the standards they have set since the turn of the century.

Early knockout exits at Euro 2008 and South Africa 2010 were understandable insomuch that they arrived by the odd goal at the hands of the two nations who stand head and shoulders above the rest. So we see no reason to class this Portuguese outfit as inferior to the Euro 2004 finalists or World Cup 2006 semi-finalists.

Some argue that Paulo Bento's side lack the killer pass of a No.10 in the mould of Rui Costa or Deco but we'd counter that with the argument that never before has the Seleccao possessed such a lethal match-winning talent as the Cristiano Ronaldo of 2012.

Back Germany to win to nil at 11/4

The defence is solid and Portugal no longer need to dominate games to score goals. Nonetheless, it's fair to say their results will almost certainly hinge on moments of individual quality from Nani and Ronaldo occupying those wide areas.

In respect of that, we fancy Joachim Low will stick Philipp Lahm on the left to look after Nani, who is more inclined to try and go round the outside, while Jerome Boateng will get the gig at right back with Ronaldo's Real Madrid team-mate Sami Khedira most likely to be the man required to check his attempts to cut inside and shoot from distance.

Either way, Germany have enough about them to keep things tight in what promises to be a relatively tight encounter with the favourites expected to make most of the running. The modern-day Nationalmannschaft generally come with a guarantee of goals but with the Portuguese likely to operate a high level of uncertainty avoidance, we reckon one might be enough on this occasion.

Germany have altered their style since running out of ideas against Spain for a second time in Durban two years ago, and it will be interesting to see how they impose themselves against one of the more disciplined tournament teams.

However, the Germans do still retain the ability to punish teams with deadly precision on the counter if they get their noses in front and, for that reason, we'll overlook the 7/1 quote on Germany to win 1-0 in favour of the more reassuring option of 11/4 about Germany to win to nil.

Back Germany to win to nil at 11/4

 

Read Mike Holden's preview of Group B's other clash on Saturday: Holland v Denmark.

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