The Danes are flying high after their win over Wales and could dream of a deeper run in the competition.
“Fortune favours the brave,” is an adage that fits Denmark very well. They endured a heart-wrenching start to the tournament with the collapse of Christian Eriksen on the pitch. They also suffered consecutive defeats in their first two matches of the UEFA Euro 2020 group stage.
The incident involving Christian Eriksen would have certainly drawn the wind out of their sails as it should. But Denmark have risen like a Phoenix from the ashes. If anything, the incident has only strengthened their resolve and improved their capabilities on the pitch, in gameplay and in spirit.
Rise of the Danes
Denmark became the first team to qualify to the knockout stages of an European Championship after losing the first two group games. Their inspirational 4-1 win at Copenhagen against Russia sealed their path to the Round of 16.
They went ahead and posted another four-goal tally to crush Wales in the Round of 16. Goals from Martin Braithwaite, Joakim Maehle and a brace from Kasper Dolberg sealed the win for them.
Denmark put in an authoritative performance and dominated every department. They had more passes, shots and shots on target than their opponents and left no chances to Wales to get back into the game. The Danes will now face either of Netherlands and Czech Republic in what would be their first quarterfinal since 2004.
Denmark have been an attacking powerhouse in the UEFA Euro 2020. They have completed almost 84% of their passes on an average in this tournament till the Round of 16. The Red and Whites have the most number of goal attempts (77) and shots on target (30) in the tournament. Such high numbers are what led to them slamming four goals in their last two games.
They have also attempted (102) and completed the most number of crosses (27) in the tournament. Therefore, there are enough aerial threats to cause harm to the opposition defence.
Denmark have one of the highest xG ratings (4.22) in the Euro 2020 . In their four games so far, Kasper Hjulmand’s men have registered an average xG differential (the difference in the xG between two participating teams) of +1.67. It shows that the Danes are not afraid to attack. Against the Welsh, they registered an xG rating of 3.13 despite ending up with four goals.
Do Denmark have what it takes to go deep?
Denmark are well-rounded with capable players across the park. They have a good mix of youth and experience and are led by an inspirational figure in Simon Kjaer. Although the focus is on the attack, Denmark cut no slack in their defensive efforts.
Hjulman’s side usually line up in a 3-4-3 formation which changes to a 3-5-2. The defence is manned well by the back three of Andreas Christensen, Kjaer and Jannik Vestergaard along with the tireless wing-backs Jens-Stryger Larsen and Joakim Maehle.
Denmark have the highest number of ball recoveries (187) and the sixth-highest number of attempted tackles (44) in the competition. This speaks volumes of their defensive solidity. The trio are quite capable on the ball and also offer aerial and attacking threats in set pieces. This adds more volume to Denmark’s attack.
The midfield is where the absence of Eriksen would be deeply felt. However, Denmark have players like Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Joakim Maehle and Thomas Delaney, who offers great work rate and excellent ball-progression capabilities. Their interplay and swiftness add a lot more, especially when the team is on the counterattack. This could stand them well when they face tougher opposition in the latter stages.
Although they are yet to face one of the favourites of the tournament, Denmark are certainly not done by any stretch. If their quality in the last two games is anything to go by, then rest assured, Denmark could see themselves in Wembley for the semifinals. They are rank outsiders, but it is not the first time the Danes are punching above their weight.
Denmark are no stranger to being rank outsiders in the Euros. They have had impressive runs in the past, some of which are straight out of fairytales. In fact, it was in that way that they scripted the most famous sporting moment in their country’s history.
In 1992, the Danes overcame a herculean task as they lifted the Euros that year. Denmark qualified from a group containing France and England and went on to defeat the Netherlands on penalties in the semifinal.
They defeated Germany in the final to cap one of the most iconic triumphs in the history of the Euros. Three years later, they won the FIFA Confederations Cup as well. Therefore, the team has enough instances to draw inspiration from.
Denmark and their coach Kasper Hjulmand have been through tougher times. Therefore, the mental resolve of the players would be at an all-time high. If Denmark can match this with their impressive performances on the pitch, then the team and their fans could believe themselves to be on the cusp of something historic.