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Denmark have pedigree in the European Championship
Denmark have pedigree in the European Championship

Denmark will expect to qualify from Group B and progress to the knockout phase — but anything beyond the round of 16 would be a major achievement for Kasper Hjulmand’s men.

The Danes have the quality and tournament experience to emerge from a group containing Belgium, Russia and Finland yet few would place them in the running to win Euro 2020. 

That was the case back when they were crowned champions in 1992, of course, so do not rule out them pulling off another seismic shock.

Background

During their last major tournament, the 2018 World Cup, Denmark did not lose a single game and were only knocked out by eventual finalists Croatia on penalties.

They were eliminated at the European Championship group stage in 1996, 2000 and 2012, while they failed to even qualify for the tournament in 2008 and 2016.

Their most successful campaign in recent history was in 2004, when they reached the quarter-finals before losing on spot-kicks to the Netherlands — a similar finish this time is considered to be realistic, if not expected.

How they qualified

Denmark came second in their qualifying group, despite going undefeated across eight games.

They won four and drew four in Group D — perhaps a disappointing total when you consider the 2.88 goals a game they scored en route to the Euros.

Their last qualifying match in Dublin saw Matt Doherty’s 85th-minute equaliser for Ireland kill off any hopes of finishing first, leaving them a point behind table-toppers Switzerland in the final standings.

The line-up

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg shields Denmark's defence
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg shields Denmark's defence

Hjulmand, 49, has only had 11 games in the Danish dugout but his preferred formation in that time has been a 4-2-3-1 — utilising Christian Eriksen as the focal point of the attack behind a lone striker.

The Inter Milan maestro has played slightly deeper than his usual role for the Nerazzurri, primarily distributing the ball to Martin Braithwaite and Pione Sisto on the flanks, while also playing in either Jonas Wind, Kasper Dolberg or Andreas Cornelius in the No9 role.

Thomas Delaney and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg sit behind Eriksen and offer protection to a centre-back pairing of Simon Kjaer and Andreas Christensen, with Kasper Schmeichel providing a reliable presence between the sticks.

Predicted line-up: Schmeichel; Maehle, Christensen, Kjær, Wass; Hojbjerg, Delaney; Eriksen, Braithwaite, Sisto; Wind.

Star man: Christian Eriksen

Without question, Denmark will be looking to Eriksen, 29, to deliver some magic and make the difference on the biggest stage.

During Inter’s Serie A-winning campaign, the former Spurs ace completed 2.07 crosses and made 15.96 successful passes into the final third per 90 minutes — putting him inside the league’s top 25 players for both metrics in 2020-21.

The midfield technician is considered Michael Laudrup’s heir in Denmark and it is not hard to see why after netting 36 goals in 106 appearances for the national side.

Christian Eriksen's creative skills will be key to Denmark's chances
Christian Eriksen's creative skills will be key to Denmark's chances

Up-and-comer: Jonas Wind

Wind, 22, only made his debut for Denmark in October 2020 but he has scored three goals in the six appearances since then.

The towering Copenhagen forward chipped in with 0.87 total contributions (goals and assists) per 90 in the Danish Superliga in 2020-21, thanks to his combination of physical strength, aerial power and positional ability.

But he is not simply a traditional targetman and possesses technical ability and energy that could cause defences significant problems.

The boss: Kasper Hjulmand

Hjulmand was supposed to become Denmark boss last summer but the global pandemic and subsequent delay of Euro 2020 saw him take over in time to lead the side at the rescheduled tournament. 

He has previously managed Danish outfit Nordsjaelland twice, guiding them to their first league title in 2011-12.

Those two stints sandwiched a brief period at Bundesliga club Mainz but he only lasted 24 games with the German outfit.

Despite such a short period charge of Denmark, Hjulmand has already guided them to a win against England at Wembley in October 2020 — a 1-0 victory in the UEFA Nations League — and has won three out of three World Cup 2022 qualifiers without conceding a goal.

That fine form sets them up nicely and leaves the Danes dreaming of repeating the miracle of 1992 once again this summer.

All information correct as of midday, June 2, 2021

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