Euro 2012 Qualifying, Group H Preview: Portugal, Denmark Hope To Close Norway Gap

Qualifying in UEFA's five team groups goes by quickly. For example, when Portugal leaves the pitch in Iceland on Tuesday, they will be half-way through qualifying, only underscoring the need to get three points from the match in Reykjavík. Already five points behind Norway (having lost in Oslo), Paulo Bento can't afford to see his team stumble.

Denmark is a similar situation, needing a win, though having a match-in-hand on the Norweigans (and Portuguese), things are not as dire for the Danes. In turn, their Tuesday match in Copenhagen against Cyprus stands to be slightly easier than Portugal's task, though Cyprus's 4-4 draw in Portugal is one of the reasons this group has taken an early Norwegian lean.

Matches

Denmark versus Cyprus, 2:15 p.m. Eastern, Parken Stadium, Copenhagen - Where Efstathios Aloneftis is out (thigh) and Chrysostomos Michail is a doubt, Cyprus's fitness concerns heighten the odds against them. Denmark got the wake-up call of Friday's 3-1 loss in Porto, meaning they're unlikely to overlook the upset-minded Cypriots. Though they enter the day six points back of Norway, a win by Denmark, who have yet to face the group leaders, keeps their group-winning destiny in Danish hands.

Iceland versus Portugal, 3:45 p.m. Eastern, Laugardalsvöllur, Reykjavík - The Selecçao showed a surprising amount of daring and fluidity on Friday, a skill level we thought Carlos Queiroz had drained out of them. Apparently, Paulo Bento has come along at just the right time, though coming-off the Denmark triumph, there is the danger that this trip to Iceland will serve as a trap match. Momentum, however, should carry a Portuguese team happy to have the reigns taken off.

Picks

  • Denmark 3, Cyprus 0
  • Iceland 1, Portugal 3
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