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Denmark Euro 2020 preview: Key players, strengths, weaknesses and expectations

Denmark is a team that you just can’t write off.

The Danes gave a decent account of themselves in their last major tournament, suffering penalty shootout heartbreak in the Round of 16 of the 2018 World Cup at the hands of eventual finalists Croatia. It wasn’t a vintage campaign, but the team has collectively grown since that disappointment.

They now approach Euro 2020 with new vigour, a relatively new coach in Kasper Hjulmand, and a desire to prove themselves in the tournament they famously won back in 1992. But can they do it?

Here’s everything you need to know about Denmark.

Route to Euro 2020

Henrik Dalsgaard
Party times / Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Denmark did not enjoy the most straight forward of passages to Euro 2020, although they did enough to finish second in their group. They began the campaign with the most incredible of 3-3 draws against Switzerland, coming from three goals down to score three times in the final six minutes.

They then slipped to a 1-1 draw with the Republic of Ireland to unnecessarily drop points – something that would become a theme in their fixtures against the weaker teams. Denmark won only four of their eight matches, drawing the other four to finish on 16 points, one behind winners Switzerland.

Their sterling comeback, combined with a 1-0 win over the table toppers was proof of the team’s ability against the stronger sides, but supporters will have been left concerned by their inability to kill off the weaker teams in the group.

Two draws with Ireland and a stalemate against Georgia told the story of a team unable to take their chances – not what you want to hear when heading into a tournament.

Strengths

Kasper Schmeichel, Andreas Christensen
A solid core / Christian Hofer/Getty Images

The strength of this team runs through its core. From the goalkeeper to the final third, there is talent and genuine star quality coursing through the centre of the pitch. Goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel is understandably one of their top performers, while centre-backs Andreas Christensen and Simon Kjaer have enjoyed excellent domestic seasons.

Denmark are also stacked for backup options, with Joachim Andersen and Jannik Vestergaard waiting in the wings. At the centre of the team sits Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, a man who has shown just how effective he can be for Tottenham Hotspur this year. Next to him will be Thomas Delaney, who has endured a bit of a difficult year at Borussia Dortmund, but remains a top option.

Just ahead of them, we have the jewel in the crown: Christian Eriksen. The Inter star is the brains of this team, as you’d expect, and it’s his creativity, vision and technique which more often than not, gets them over the line.

His midfield partners provide the base, and with that, he can run riot.

Weaknesses

FBL-EURO-2020-2021-DEN
If isolated, Eriksen can’t ignite his team / LISELOTTE SABROE/Getty Images

Denmark’s biggest strength can also be their main weakness. Eriksen is at the heart of everything positive in their play, but when he’s not there or if he is marked out of the game, his teammates struggle to step up to the plate.

In terms of attacking creativity, there is little support for Eriksen in this team, and their over-reliance on him can prove their downfall. That makes it a bit simpler for the top sides to pick this Denmark team off: stop Eriksen, and you will win the game.

That is something that new coach Hjulmand will have tried to fix over the past year, but whether he has found a successful remedy remains to be seen.

Players to watch

Simon Kjaer
A proper leader / Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Eriksen is obviously the man who will grab all the headlines, and if Denmark are winning games, it’s probably because of their insanely gifted playmaker. But keep an eye on centre-back Kjaer. While Christensen may be the more household name as a Chelsea player, Kjaer has stepped up to play a key role in Milan’s success this year.

The 32-year-old has performed so well that he became their first-choice centre-back ahead of club captain Alessio Romagnoli, and he kept his place in the team once Fikayo Tomori joined on loan. He is a commanding leader at the back, and his displays match his authoritative nature.

Sticking with Serie A vibes, Bologna winger Andreas Skov Olsen and Sampdoria starlet Mikkel Damsgaard could be dangers out wide, so it’s worth taking note of them this summer.

Final squad

Goalkeepers: Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester), Frederik Ronnow (Schalke), Jonas Lossl (Midtjylland)

Defenders: Simon Kjaer (AC Milan), Andreas Christensen (Chelsea), Mathias Jorgensen (Copenhagen), Jens Stryger Larsen (Udinese), Jannik Vestergaard (Southampton), Nicolai Boilesen (Copenhagen), Joakim Maehle (Atalanta), Joachim Andersen (Fulham)

Midfielders: Christian Eriksen (Inter), Thomas Delaney (Borussia Dortmund), Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Tottenham), Daniel Wass (Valencia), Mathias Jensen (Brentford), Anders Christiansen (Malmo), Christian Norgaard (Brentford)

Forwards: Yussuf Poulsen (RB Leipzig), Martin Braithwaite (Barcelona), Andreas Cornelius (Parma), Kasper Dolberg (Nice), Robert Skov (Hoffenheim), Jonas Wind (Copenhagen), Andreas Skov Olsen (Bologna), Mikkel Damsgaard (Sampdoria)

To see the full list of confirmed squads for Euro 2020, click here.

Predictions

Christian Eriksen
Denmark could surprise a few / Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Denmark may have a cheeky feeling they can go deep in this competition. They rely on a core set of elite players, who, on their day, can win matches singlehandedly. In terms of the group stage, they’ll be aiming for a second place finish as a minimum.

Belgium are no mugs, so there’d be no shame in finishing as the best of the rest. From then on, it’s all about the draw. If they are able to pull a team like Turkey in the Round of 16, they may fancy their chances of sneaking through to the next round.

The deeper into the competition you go, the more of a lottery it becomes. A quarter-final finish would be a decent showing, but there’s a feeling they could surprise a few.

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