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Pedigree contenders relishing Group B test

Published: Wednesday 30 May 2012, 9.00CET
Joachim Löw wants Germany to show courage in Group B, while Klaas-Jan Huntelaar feels the Netherlands are at their peak and Denmark are relishing testing themselves "against the best".

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Published: Wednesday 30 May 2012, 9.00CET

Pedigree contenders relishing Group B test

Joachim Löw wants Germany to show courage in Group B, while Klaas-Jan Huntelaar feels the Netherlands are at their peak and Denmark are relishing testing themselves "against the best".

The presence of three former winners and a recent runner-up ensures that Group B will be one of the most exciting and unpredictable sections at UEFA EURO 2012.

Germany, defeated by Spain in the final four years ago, are once again among the tournament favourites. En route to that showpiece in 2008 they overcame Portugal – runners-up on home soil at UEFA EURO 2004 – in the quarter-finals. This time around, Paulo Bento's charges are Germany's first test, in Lviv on 9 June.

"Against such a team you can only afford very few mistakes, and you must be able to control the game, have the courage to play forward and not wait for them," said Germany coach Joachim Löw. "I think that's the only way to beat that team."

Löw's side did just that to secure their place in Poland and Ukraine, winning all ten of their qualifiers to emerge as runaway Group A winners. They may be unbeaten since defeat by eventual winners Spain in the 2010 FIFA World Cup semi-finals, but defender Pepe says Portugal should not be underestimated. "They also prefer that it's the first match, so they have more time to recover in the next two matches if necessary."

The Netherlands, meanwhile, vanquished by the all-conquering Spaniards in the final in South Africa two years ago, commence their campaign against 1992 winners Denmark. "I think when you look at our age, most of us were born in '83-'84, so everyone is getting to the peak of their career," said Dutch international striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. "I think we have the ideal mix there in terms of age, and now we have to show it at the European Championship."

The dark horses look to be the Danes, who also started as rank outsiders 20 years ago but emerged to enjoy their finest hour. "Of course it probably wasn't our preferred draw," said goalkeeper Thomas Sørensen "But it's incredibly exciting and as a player you always want to measure yourself against the best."

Last updated: 26/10/12 14.47CET

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