The Danes will hope to catch Germany looking ahead to the quarterfinals so they can gain the win they need to progress from the Group of Death. Die Mannschaft can afford to settle for a draw to reach the knockout stages, and a win will do nicely as well. However, if Germany loses the match and Portugal also wins, it could be out of the competition. For more on the scenarios, see our group breakdown.
What’s at stake?
Denmark will approach the fixture with the same must-win mentality as the 1992 Euro final in which it shocked Germany 2-0 and lifted its only international trophy. The Danes will draw strength from the fact they have won two of the three previous competitive matches between the two teams. But they’ll have to improve in front of goal: the 13 chances they have created rank second-worst in the tournament (Greece is worst with 6).
Germany is coming off an impressive 2-1 victory over a disorganized Netherlands in which its intelligent transition game tormented its opponent at will. Coach Joachim Low faces a selection dilemma: Does he rest some players for the elimination round and risk breaking up the flow of his team? Imposing striker Mario Gomez has been one of the tournament’s revelations. In this game, we may see more of veteran Miroslav Klose; with 63 career international goals, he is five shy of Gerd Muller’s team record.
Style and tactics
Denmark’s counterattacking game balances caution with ambition. Its organized defense soaks up the opponent’s pressure before it seeks to surge forward via Michael Krohn-Dehli on the left flank.
And stop us if you’ve heard this one before -- Germany has been one of the most efficiently organized collectives in the tournament. Its intelligent midfield utilizes its tactical flexibility and movement to drag defenders out of position so the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger can slip the ball through to the suddenly unstoppable Gomez.
Players to watch
Denmark: Young midfield starling Christian Eriksen has had a difficult tournament as opponents have smothered his ability to orchestrate the Danish attack. Can he raise his game against Germany? Daniel Agger has been a tattooed wall at the center of Denmark’s defense. And erratic striker Nicklas Bendtner will seek to show he can score goals without the motivation of wanting to flash his sponsored “lucky” underpants.
Germany: Midfielder Schweinsteiger is the engine propelling the German midfield. Thomas Muller will threaten from the flanks. Mesut Ozil will drift craftily around the Danish defenders, drawing them out of position so he can slip passes into dangerous areas.
What to expect?
Denmark will be organized, prepared and tough to break down, but the Germans play a relentless game. Germany will patiently wait for the moment when the Danes drop concentration and then punish them. Once Denmark has to push forward in search of goals, the game will become more open and the goals should flow.
If Germany finishes as the Group B winner, it would earn the right to play the quarterfinal match at Arena Gdansk, close to their team base. Not that they’ll need much motivation.
Who will win?
The classic betting adage suggests “The House always wins.” In European soccer, Germany is The House. It will win 3-1 in a game which will be closer than the score line suggests.
Roger Bennett is a contributing writer for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter @rogbennett.