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Euro 2020 Preview: Denmark

Jun 09, 2021

After a blistering qualification campaign, Denmark will be going into the finals full of confidence, and with dreams of recreating the legendary Euro 1992 fairytale in which Richard Moller Nielsen’s ‘Danish Dynamite’ side went all the way — They’re 25/1 to do so.

That side didn’t originally qualify for the finals, having finished runners-up to Yugoslavia in qualification. The former communist state, however, were not able to make the finals as they were in the midst of a tragic civil war.

Qualification has been a lot more simple for this summers tournament, and under the outstanding management of Kasper Hjulmand, and with a vastly experienced squad who have mostly had strong domestic seasons, De rod-hvide will have the advantage of playing all of their group games in Copenhagen in front of up to 11,250 fans.

In part 9 of our Euro 2020 preview series, we’ll look back at the Danes qualifying campaign and general form, before predicting their formation and playing style and then focusing on a couple of key players. As always, we’ll pick out some key odds for the tournament.

Form Guide

Euro 2020 qualifying: DWWDWWDD

Denmark were one of only five teams to go unbeaten during qualification — then under the tutelage of Age Hareide — winning and drawing four each. They were the only side of those five not to finish top, however, finishing a point behind Switzerland and three ahead of the Republic of Ireland. In the process they bagged 23 goals (2.86 goals per game) and conceded just six.

In more general terms you could argue that the Danes are in even better form still. After their Nations League campaign ended with defeat to Belgium, they went on to win all of their opening three World Cup 2022 qualifying fixtures — against Israel, Moldova and Austria albeit — with an aggregate score of 14–0. Their warm up fixtures included a draw against Germany and a win against Bosnia & Herzegovina.

In major finals the Danes have had their fairytale ending, and they have also had some more predictable group stage / early final endings. Their best finish since the 1992 glory was the quarter-finals stage in 2004, whereas in the World Cup they have never surpassed the Round-of-16. Denmark have also failed to qualify for two of the last four European Championships.

Formation & Playing Style

Since Hjulmand’s arrival in July 2020 Denmark have only played 13 games, meaning it is hard to pin a particular formation and playing style to a manager still tinkering with his squad. That being said, his reliance on the creativity of Eriksen coupled with the Danes understandable caution against Europe’s elite leans towards the 49 year old deploying a 4–2–3–1 formation.

At the back, Denmark can count on a vastly experienced goalkeeper/centre-back trio in Kasper Schmeichel (63 caps), Andreas Christensen (40 caps) and 32-year old captain Simon Kjaer (105 caps) who are all used to playing with and against Europe’s elite in their domestic leagues. Valencia’s Daniel Wass and Atalanta’s Joakim Maehle will be relied upon to provide attacking width down the flanks.

Anything further forward will be designed with Christian Eriksen in mind, the Inter Milan playmaker being deployed in his favoured number 10 role and carrying the brunt of any creative weight. Behind him, whilst Pierre-Emile Hojberg and Thomas Delaney may lack the ‘star-quality’ of their 29 year old compatriot, their qualities both with and without the ball are nothing short of outstanding and they have been pivotal for their club sides (Tottenham and Borussia Dortmund respectively).

Either side of Eriksen, Hjulmand will likely go for Barcelona and RB Leipzig forwards Martin Braithwaite and Yousef Poulsen; two natural strikers who are comfortable as wide forwards and have played as such for their clubs. And whilst FC Copenhagen’s 22 year old talent Jonas Wind looks likely to don the number nine role, he will face stiff competition from two other promising young talents in Nice’s Kasper Dolberg and Parma’s Andreas Cornelius.

The Danes main strength is undoubtedly the core of their 11, and Hjulmand’s possession-based approach looks to be bringing the best out of his side. The quartet of Kjaer, Christensen, Delaney and Hojberg will be up their with the best in the tournament both in and out of possession. They also provide the perfect balance for the creative freedom of Eriksen and the attacking instincts of both full-backs. They do seem to lack a true goalscorer, however, and any success will warrant the majority of the team chipping in throughout.

Key Players

Christian Eriksen: The undisputed talisman of this Denmark side, Christian Eriksen bears the brunt of this sides creative output. After a rocky start in Milan, it looked as if Eriksen was going to be shown the door in January. But after a fine resurgence under Antonio Conte, culminating in winning the Serie A title, Eriksen seems to have found the form that had him up there with the best creative midfielders in the world during his time at White Hart Lane.

In a Danish shirt, Eriksen has amassed 107 caps, scoring 36 goals and notching up another 24 assists, earning him the honour of being labelled as the heir to the great Michael Laudrup’s Danish throne.

His experience at the highest level will prove invaluable to a Denmark side hoping to mix it up with some of the best in Europe, and his influence on the likes of Wind, Andreas Skov Olsen, Mathias Jensen and Mikel Damsgaard (all with less than 10 international caps) will be massively helpful in bringing through the next generation of Danish Dynamite.

Simon Kjaer: As already mentioned, if Denmark are to come anywhere close to repeating the glory of 1992, they will need to utilise their water-tight central core to its fullest extent. Imperative to that ’92 winning side was 30 year old Lars Olsen who captained the side played left of a back three. Equally imperative to Hjulmand’s side is 32-year-old captain Simon Kjaer of AC Milan.

The paragon of experience, Kjaer’s domestic career has spanned over a decade, totalling 468 appearances for nine clubs across six different countries. At international level, the defender has picked up 106 caps, scoring three goals.

At the ripe age of 32, Kjaer was equally everpresent in European qualification in 2019 as he was back in 2009, marshalling a tight-knit Danish defence and leading the entire side from the back. He has also been a fixture in the AC Milan side that finished second for the 2020/21 season, making 28 appearances.

Hjulmand and co. will need every ounce of Kjaer’s vast domestic and international experience if they are to progress deeper into the finals, and if he can drag his side to another glory he, as his hero Lars Olsen did, will go into the annuls of legend.

Key Odds

After a brilliant qualifying campaign, and with plenty of promise in both squad and manager, Denmark are a respectable 25/1 to to win Euro 2020, whilst also coming in at 12/1 to reach the final and 9/4 to win their group.

The aforementioned lack of a clear goalscorer means you would have to go as far down as 100/1 for Christian Eriksen to win the Golden Boot, whilst the most likely Danish striker to win is it Jonas Wind at 150/1.

The Danes are priced at 9/20 to win their opening fixture against Finland.

Denmark are in Group B with Belgium, Finland and Russia.

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