Heavyweights meet in opener.
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Perhaps the most unified and cohesive team in the competition meet a nation who have their hopes pinned firmly on one man and three syllables: RO-NAL-DO.
Germany may be the second favourites behind holders Spain but when you consider that Joachim Loew’s side have won their past 11 competitive games (including all 10 qualifiers) and that no team has ever retained the trophy, they really do appear to be the side to pick in the office sweepstake.
The Germans may not have won World Cup 2010 but they certainly set it alight with their energetic, counter-attacking football. Two years on, their young side has matured and will have their eyes firmly set on lifting the trophy.
Their opponents Portugal may appear inconsistent and lacking in squad depth, but with Cristiano Ronaldo fresh off the back of a 63-goal season for Real Madrid, anything is possible.
And these sides tend to serve up classics. The last time they met in this competition, Germany beat Portugal 3-2 in the quarter-finals of Euro 2008.
Prediction: 1-1 but Germany to feel hard-done-by.
Team news: Coach Joachim Loew has a full squad to choose from and is likely to pick Jerome Boateng despite threatening to leave out the Bayern Munich full-back, who was caught cavorting with a lady friend in the early hours last weekend.
Familiar faces: Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker will line up alongside former Man City defender Boateng. Gunners fans should also catch a glimpse of their new striker, Lukas Podolski who will arrive in North London from Cologne this summer. Chelsea fans will be delighted to see no less than eight Bayern Munich players in the squad.
One to watch: Mesut Ozil. He was brilliant at the 2010 World Cup but, after two years of Mourinho treatment at Real Madrid, expect the boggle-eyed playmaker to be even better in Poland and Ukraine.
Soundbite: “We have a young team and I have often said that I like youth and dynamism. If they have quality and the conditioning, that’s worth more than a lot of experience” – Germany coach Joachim Loew on why he overlooked the old-timers.
Stat attack: Germany have won 11 competitive matches in a row and won all 10 of their qualifiers, outscoring their opponents 34-7…yikes!
What to expect: Ruthless efficiency, particularly from the penalty spot…oh wait…
Team news: There are no injury concerns in the Portugal camp.
Familiar faces: Nani is the only Premier League representative but who doesn’t recognise the smug and/or tearful face of his former Manchester United teammate Cristiano Ronaldo, now of Real Madrid.
One to watch: It’s unoriginal in the extreme to say Ronaldo but it simply has to be him. Unquestionably the best (European) footballer in the world…and without Messi in sight to upstage him, he might be even better. Expect tears before bedtime if Portugal struggle, however. Also look out for his Real teammate, flying full-back Fábio Coentrão.
Soundbite: “After the competition I will respond to everything but during it I shall not reply to questions on criticism” – Don’t have a go at Portugal coach Paulo Bento if things start to go wrong.
Stat attack: Portugal have suffered goalless draws in three of their last five matches.
What to expect: Lots of pace down the flanks but the lack of poacher is a long-term problem.
FANCY A FLUTTER?
Best bet: Germany to win 2-0: 10/1
Outside bet: Germany to lead 3-1 at half-time: 100/1