The 14th edition of the European Championships kicks off on Saturday morning as Poland and Ukraine play hosts to the best soccer nations in UEFA.
nzherald.co.nz's Cameron McMillan takes a look at the four groups and how the first stage could play out. Today: Group B.
Netherlands (FIFA ranking 4, UEFA ranking 2)
Denmark (10, 10)
Germany (2, 3)
Portugal (5, 11)
Many groups in the past have been dubbed the 'Pool of death' but Group B really does earn the title. All four teams are ranked in the top 10 in the world with Germany, Netherlands and Portugal all in the top five and like Group A, three of the nations are previous champions with Portugal the odd-one out. Though there is a tinge of 'bridesmaids' to Group B with Portugal (second in Euro 2004), Germany (second in Euro 2008), Netherlands (second in 2010 World Cup) having all gone so close to securing major titles in recent times before just falling short.
Germany - Going for a fourth European Championship with their last coming in 1996, the Germans won all 10 games in qualifying with an impressive goal difference of plus 27. Always reliable to go far in a tournament having gone semifinal, final, semifinal in their last three major tournaments but is that a sign they can't go all the way? Once again they field a very experienced team with 33-year-old striker Miroslav Klose leading the way at the front - having scored nine goals in six appearances during qualifying. Netherlands have Van Persie, Portugal have Ronaldo but Germany's more rounded team should see them top the group.
Denmark - The only 'underdog' option really but a hugely underrated team when you look at their world ranking of number 10. Beat Portugal 2-1 in Copenhagen last year and drew 2-2 with Germany in 2010. Won the title in 1992 but have won only two games at the Euros since. Still this is a group where anyone can beat anyone which could work in Denmark's favour if they steal an upset. Finished off preparations with a 2-0 win over Australia in the weekend. Not to be taken lightly.
Fixture of the group:
Netherlands v Germany, June 14: Pick any of the six matches and you'll be guaranteed a decent encounter but a Dutch-Germany clash always promises plenty. Arjen Robben taking on many of his Bayern Munich teammates will add an extra something.
TAB odds - to win group/win tournament: