Euro 2012 Group B was immediately anointed with the seal of group-of-deathness when it was drawn in Kiev last December. And with some justification: Germany, Holland, Denmark and Portugal are currently placed 3rd, 4th, 9th and 10th in Fifa's world rankings. As the final round of group matches take place in Lviv and Kharkiv on Sunday night it is Denmark and – perhaps unsurprisingly – Germany who appear to be in control of the parachutes.
For Holland in particular it is possible this could be the most agonising of deaths, with the fate of the Dutch entirely dependent on what happens 1,000km away in the tightly packed Lviv Arena. It is here that Germany and Denmark face one another with both teams in a position to benefit from a draw. Denmark will qualify with a point. Germany will be rid of the troublesome Dutch if the Danes progress in second place.
The Germans also have history here. The mutually concocted 1-0 win over Austria at the 1982 World Cup that eliminated Algeria as a consequence – also known as the Shame of Gijón and The Anschluss – is a forgettable moment in football's tournament history. Already Arjen Robben of Bayern Munich has called upon Germany's players to play up and play the game. "For sure, there's still a chance," Robben said. "We need to think that if Germany fulfil their sporting duty, it is still in our own hands if we beat Portugal by two goals."
Theatrical notions of collusion aside, it is perhaps the Danes who represent the greater threat to Holland's hopes. Dennis Rommedahl will miss the match after twanging a hamstring, most likely to be replaced by Tobias Mikkelsen, and the combative midfielder Niki Zimling is struggling with a calf injury. But Denmark have looked purposeful and technically adept in their two matches so far, the defeat of Holland that saw the Dutch toothless in front of goal, and the late, dramatic loss to Portugal.
Plus Germany, with a quarter-final in Gdansk on Friday looming, will perhaps rest key players as the game wears on. For now the only likely change to the German starting lineup is a replacement at right-back for the suspended Jérôme Boateng, with either Benedikt Hoewedes or Lars Bender options to step in.
The last time Denmark and Germany met in a competitive fixture was also memorable, the final of the 1992 European Championships, in which the Danes, called late into the tournament due to strife in the former Yugoslavia, completed an unlikely romantic tournament victory in Sweden.
It would be incorrect to say that moment of success has haunted Denmark's subsequent tournament forays. But certainly the memory remains fresh as Morten Olsen attempts to guide what is probably the most gifted group of players to emerge since that high point 20 years ago, with much hope residing in the 20-year-old Ajax playmaker Christian Eriksen.
Olsen has been in charge for 12 of those years, making him the longest serving current international manager. Of Eriksen, he says: "He is a wonderful young talent, everyone can see that, but he is still only a young player and he is just one man in the side. He cannot carry the team by himself."
On Sunday night not one but two of Germany's immediate neighbours will be hoping Eriksen can do exactly that.
Germany's coach, Joachim Löw, told his substitutes on Saturday they would have to accept life on the bench against Denmark and dismissed the idea of giving key players a rest, indicating that the striker Mario Gomez – who has scored all Germany's three goals at Euro 2012 – would start. "I will not just take two players out for the sake of it so that I can give someone a day off."
Löw claimed he would not be going out of his way to keep up with the score in Kharkiv. "As a coach I want to concentrate on what's happening in the game we're playing," he said.