Oh yes; every tournament needs it s special Group of Death, and even before this one has started that this one might be the Grim Reaper’s ultimate Wet Dream.
So what are the historical precedents?
World Cup 1970 Group C. Brazil, England (holders), Romania and Czechoslovakia is generally thought to be up there..
UK media will say 1986 Group E. Denmark (most beautiful side on the planet at the time), West Germany, Uruguay (then the South American champs) and, um Scotland. Spot how that one can’t really be considered a real all time Group of Death contender.
Probably the best GoD however, was in Euro 2008. Group C. Netherlands, Italy (World Cup holders at the time) Romania and France. Incidentally the first two qualified for the next round and were promptly eliminated.
But this is a Grim Reaper’s delight to match that one. Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal and Denmark. FIFA rankings of 2, 4, 5 and 10. Three past winners of this tournament and a finalist.
The young German side of 2010 surprised everyone, and proved there’s no such thing as an average German side. Two years on, and they’ll be even stronger. They will make it out of the group because that’s what German teams do.
Everyone’s favourite footballing bridesmaids Netherlands always make a tournament better for their presence. This side is as varied as ever. The class of Van Persie, the lazy creativity of Van der Vaart, the Robben enigma nicely balanced out with a bit of Nigel de Jong.
People tend to characterise Portugal as advocated of the beautiful game, but any side with Pep and Alves at the back know how to rough a side up. Recent meetings with the Dutch have been brutal, card-ridden affairs; it’s unlikely to be any different in the last match of pool play.
And then there’s everyone’s favourite winker leading the attack. He’s never quite done it at international level. He’s 27 now, captain, and come off probably the best season of his career.
Denmark may be perceived as the whipping boys in this company, but remember they topped their qualification group, which included Portugal. Some point to their lack of attacking options; Bendtner of all people is their sole striker, but they didn’t have a lot of attacking options in 1992 either.
Here’s a bit of when Holland won this tournament in 1988. Best clutch goal in a final ever? Probably.
Feel free to nominate you favourite Groups of Death in the comments.