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Part two of our feature of players to watch at EURO 2012 takes us to Group B, the group of death. Denmark may have their fair share of talented young players coming through for this summer, but being put up against many people’s favorites (Germany, Holland, and Portugal) will make this group undoubtedly the most entertaining in the tournament. Here are eight possible players to keep an eye out for in Poland and Ukraine.
Kevin Strootman (PSV & Holland)
Kevin Strootman may already be 22, but that does not mean his potential is fulfilled already. The PSV midfielder has attracted the interest of top Premier League clubs and has had a meteoric rise since he left relegated Sparta Rotterdam 18 months ago. One season at Utrecht was enough to catch the eye of PSV, who took him on last season, and he has already made an impact in Holland.
Strootman broke into the Holland set-up last year and has made 11 appearances, making him almost certain to be going to the EUROs this summer. If Holland is to challenge for the tournament, nevermind making it out of a very tough group, Strootman in the midfield will be a key aspect of their side.
Ricky Van Wolfswinkel (Sporting Lisbon & Holland)
The brilliantly named Ricky Van Wolfswinkel is another of the boys from Utrecht who has carried on building their reputation before being linked with every top Premier League club. Van Wolfswinkel moved to Sporting Lisbon last summer and has scored nine goals since. Like Strootman, he has all but claimed his place at EURO 2012.
The striker has been strongly linked with Manchester United and Tottenham, and if he continues to impress on the big stage this summer, the likes of him and Strootman could be the new generation of Dutch stars that bring silverware back to their country.
Daniel Wass (Evian & Denmark)
This may be one you have not heard of before, but right-back Daniel Wass is progressing nicely through his career at the moment. After impressing at home in Denmark for Brondby, Wass had done enough to attract the interest of Benfica. The Portuguese side snapped him up last summer, but loaned him out immediately to French side Evian. Wass has made eighteen appearances for the Ligue 1 side so far and has scored three goals from his attacking full-back role.
He does not have a guaranteed place in the Danish squad for the summer and has only made four international appearances. However, his impressive performances in France and his growing reputation means we could see a bit more of the 22-year-old in Poland and Ukraine.
Christian Eriksen (Ajax & Denmark)
My next few names seem painfully obvious, but it would be rude not to mention them anyway. Another one of the young Danish contingents who is certain to go to EURO 2012 is Christian Eriksen. The Ajax superstar came to the front last year when he started to impress in Holland and began to make an impact on the international stage. He has already claimed 21 caps for Denmark and will be central to his country’s hopes of progressing from a tough group this summer.
Eriksen is linked with almost every major club in Europe at the moment. If he does have an impressive summer, it is hard to imagine the little play-maker will still be at Ajax come the start of the new season.
Andre Schurrle (Bayer Leverkusen & Germany)
All the talk in Germany at the moment surrounds the excitement of Borussia Dortmund star Mario Goetze and their future star Marco Reus, but one man who has been making great progress for Bayer Leverkusen is Andre Schurrle.
Starting his career at Mainz, Schurrle soon was the center of attention and got a move to Leverkusen last summer. He has made more progress with the German giants this season and broke onto the international scene impressively, scoring five goals in his mere twelve caps for Germany.
Despite that, Schurrle is not a likely starter for Germany this summer, but it would be a surprise if he was not included in the squad and given some sort of role in the tournament.
Marco Reus (Gladbach & Germany)
I say Gladbach, but Marco Reus will be joining the ever-impressive Borussia Dortmund in the summer to play alongside the other German star, Goetze. He has scored 34 goals for Gladbach at the age of 22 and is another who might not make the German XI, but will surely make the final squad. Dortmund will be happy they already have him signed and sealed for next season, as he is sure to attract a lot of attention this summer.
There are only four appearances for Germany, but Reus has a big future. EURO 2012 may be the opportunity for the attacker to make an impact with Germany looking to replace the likes of Miroslav Klose et al., sooner rather than later.
The final of the new German threesome who will shake up EURO 2012 this summer is Mario Goetze, and he may be the most impressive of the three. Already a first teamer at German champions Dortmund, Goetze will be the subject of much interest this summer and could find himself in the first XI in Poland and Ukraine.
Goetze may not be at Dortmund for very much longer, although with the German side about to seal another Bundesliga title, maybe they can convince Mario to put off the attractions of Europe’s finest for one more season. However, an impressive tournament may put into play any plans Dortmund had to hang onto the midfielder.
Nelson Oliveira (Benfica & Portugal)
There probably will not be an awful lot different about Portugal’s squad compared to that of the 2010 World Cup. Nelson Oliveira is not even guaranteed to get a spot in the squad, in all honesty, but he did finally get his international debut this year, so will definitely be in contention. He is not a prolific goalscorer, but a hard worker upfront and holds the ball up well.
He scored in the Champions League last month to put Benfica through to the Champions League Quarter-Finals, and we might see a bit more of Oliveira this summer if Portugal feels the need to take him.