National side draws group of death

Portugal, Germany and the Netherlands are the opponents in a Euro 2012 group made even more difficult by geographical factors

Denmark learnt this evening that it will need to negotiate the toughest group by far at next year’s European Championship in order to qualify for the knockout stage of the tournament.

Germany, many people’s favourites to win heading into the draw, the Netherlands, the World Cup runners-up, and perennial rivals Portugal are standing in the red and white’s way at a tournament that is being co-hosted by Poland and Ukraine.

 

Peter Schmeichel, who took part in the draw as a representative of Denmark’s triumphant Euro 1992 team, could only look on bemused, ruefully shaking his head as Denmark was first drawn with the Netherlands in Group B instead of one of the co-hosts, the best third seed, Portugal, and finally the best second seed, Germany.

 

And it gets worse! Group B’s games will take place in Ukraine, a much harder country to get to than Poland, which via the ferry most fans can drive to.

French football legend Zinedine Zidane holds up the Danish ballot paper during tonight's drawing in Kiev (Photo: Scanpix)

While Denmark’s first game is against the Dutch on June 9 in Kharkiv, its second game is an arduous 875km away and just four days later in Lviv against a Portuguese side scheduled to play their first game at the venue. Denmark will then remain in Lviv for their final group game against Germany on June 17.

 

One saving grace for Denmark is that should it make it through to the quarter-finals, its opponents will come from Group A – co-hosts Poland, Czech Republic, Greece and Russia – which is by a long way the easiest of the four groups.

 

The other groups are Group C (Spain, Italy, Croatia and the Republic of Ireland) and Group D (Ukraine, France, England and Sweden).

 

Following the draw, Denmark are 125/1 rank outsiders to win the tournament and 14s to win the group.

 

Spain are 5/2 favourites to win the tournament, ominously followed by two of Denmark’s group rivals, Germany (7/2) and the Netherlands (8s).