Man that matters:
Christian Eriksen: The Danes might not be here but for a dominant midfield performance by the Ajax man, 22, whose playmaking drove Denmark to Group H victory in qualifying with a final-day win over Portugal. Former Ajax manager Martin Jol has compared Eriksen to Dutch creators Wesley Sneijder and Rafael van der Vaart. He was the youngest player in South Africa two years ago, although limited to just a pair of second-half substitutions.
June 9: vs. Netherlands (Kharkiv, Ukraine)
June 13: vs. Portugal (Lviv, Ukraine)
June 17: vs. Germany (Lviv, Ukraine)
Foursome of knowledge:
- The Danish tale of 1992 is a Euro legend. Having failed to qualify, they got an 11th hour lifeline, needing to patch together a team following Yugoslavia’s suspension. The unfancied Danes went on to win the whole tournament, culminating the shocking run by beating Germany 2-0 in the final.
- There’s no mystery about this side. Manager Morten Olsen has 12 years on the job. They work out of a well-rehearsed 4-3-3, and role familiarity serves the Danes well. One potential problem: when things get tight, that 4-3-3 can devolved into a 4-5-1, stranding lone striker Nicklas Bendtner without much support.
- A big, late blow will hamper the Danes. Thomas Sorensen, the nation’s longtime No. 1, suffered a back injury over the weekend, leaving at halftime of Denmark’s 3-1 loss Saturday to Brazil in Hamburg. Sorensen Tuesday via Twitter: “Devastated to miss the Euros due to injury. When so much energy and soul has been put into something it’s a tough one.”
- Others to watch: Center back Daniel Agger has a great combination of talent and experience. Alongside him, young defender Simon Kjaer has big potential, but may not be confident after an unhappy season at Wolfsburg. Kjaer started twice at World Cup 2010 and was a regular in Euro 2012 qualifying.
Where they are going:
Don’t underestimate the advantages of confidence and system familiarity, not to mention the decreased weight of expectation, relative to others. That said, Denmark generally plays the quintessential “just good enough” side in these things. That is, handsome enough to get into the party, but insufficiently gorgeous to whisk away the bell of the ball. Unblessed with enough difference makers, the Danes will struggle to make much headway.
Goalkeepers: Stephan Andersen (Évian Thonon Gaillard FC), Anders Lindegaard (Manchester United FC), Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester City)
Defenders: Lars Jacobsen (FC København), Daniel Wass (Évian Thonon Gaillard FC), Daniel Agger (Liverpool FC), Simon Kjær (AS Roma), Andreas Bjelland (FC Nordsjælland), Simon Poulsen (AZ Alkmaar), Jores Okore (FC Nordsjælland).
Midifelders: Christian Poulsen (Évian Thonon Gaillard FC), Jakob Poulsen (FC Midtjylland), William Kvist (1. FC Nürnberg), Niki Zimling (Club Brugge KV), Thomas Kahlenberg (Évian Thonon Gaillard FC), Christian Eriksen (AFC Ajax), Michael Silberbauer (BSC Young Boys), Lasse Schøne (NEC Nijmegen).
Forwards: Dennis Rommedahl (Brøndby IF), Nicklas Bendtner (Arsenal FC), Michael Krohn-Dehli (Brøndby IF), Tobias Mikkelsen (FC Nordsjælland), Nicklas Pedersen (FC Groningen).
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