It has been almost 30 years since Denmark’s famous European Championship victory in Sweden, but this squad is perhaps one of their best prepared since. Christian Eriksen aside, the names may not stand out for their star power, but their is proven quality in almost every position upon which Kasper Hjulmand can rely to qualify for the knockout stages.
It was Peter Schmeichel who started in goal for that glorious 1992 campaign and his son, Kasper, will undoubtedly take up that position this time around. In defence, Simon Kjaer, Joachim Andersen and Andreas Christensen have all enjoyed excellent seasons at club level and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg will guard the gaps between them with typical venom.
If anything, it is Denmark’s conviction in attack that could raise the greatest questions. They failed to reach the 2016 Euros, having lost to rivals Sweden in a play-off, and despite progress from the group stage at the 2018 World Cup, they scored just two goals before being eliminated by Croatia on penalties in the round of 16.
There was no shame in losing to the eventual finalists, but it is hardly a secret where the Danes’ faults lie. To make a real dent in the tournament, they must match their resilience in defence with a rabidity in attack. A resurgent Eriksen, who thrived in the latter stages of Inter Milan’s title-winning campaign, can do the heavy lifting, but only if someone is there to capitalise on his pinpoint final ball.
“I am very happy that he has taken on such an important role at Inter and that he is getting minutes ahead of this summer’s European Championships,” Hjulmand said recently. “An Eriksen in excellent shape who reaches Euro 2020 after having played and achieved great success with Inter will be a very important resource for us. Christian Eriksen has been part of the European elite of players for a long time and with the Serie A title he is now experiencing a fantastic moment in his career at Inter…. He is and will always be a top player.”
Here is everything you need to know:
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Goalkeepers: Jonas Lössl (Midtjylland), Frederik Rønnow (Schalke), Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester).
Defenders: Joachim Andersen (Fulham), Nicolai Boilesen (Copenhagen), Andreas Christensen (Chelsea), Mathias Jørgensen (Copenhagen), Simon Kjær (AC Milan), Joakim Mæhle (Atalanta), Jens Stryger Larsen (Udinese), Jannik Vestergaard (Southampton).
Midfielders: Anders Christiansen (Malmö), Thomas Delaney (Dortmund), Christian Eriksen (Inter Milan), Pierre-Emile Højbjerg (Tottenham), Mathias Jensen (Brentford), Christian Nørgaard (Brentford), Robert Skov (Hoffenheim), Daniel Wass (Valencia).
Forwards: Martin Braithwaite (Barcelona), Andreas Cornelius (Parma), Mikkel Damsgaard (Sampdoria), Kasper Dolberg (Nice), Andreas Skov Olsen (Bologna), Yussuf Poulsen (Leipzig), Jonas Wind (Copenhagen).
Ones to watch
Star – Christian Eriksen: The playmaker and architect in the heart of midfield, Eriksen finally regained form towards the end of Inter’s title-winning season after a torrid spell. That could well be pivotal for Denmark, who rely so heavily on his ingenuity.
Breakout talent – Yussuf Poulsen: Denmark may benefit from one of Europe’s best playmakers, but all will be proved trivial if they are unable to convert those chances. Much of that burden will fall onto Yussuf Poulsen, who has scored just five goals for RB Leipzig all season but remains the national team’s standout option up front. If he finds his best form, their ceiling will be raised dramatically.
Odds to win
Can emerge from a tricky group in second place behind Belgium but will struggle in the knockout stages. Round of 16 exit.
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