Nicknames: Danish Dynamite, Olsen’s Eleven.
Rankings: FIFA (10), Elo (19), SPI (22)
Euro History: Champions (1992), Semifinals (1964, 1984), Quarterfinals (2004), Qualified (1988, 1996, 2000)
Last Five Tournaments: GS – DNQ – DNQ – QF – R16
History: The Danes won Euro 1992, barely. They failed to reach the tournament through qualifying, but were admitted 10 days beforehand in place of banned Yugoslavia. Riding Man U goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel and defensive tactics, they advanced from their group, scoring just two total goals (both in the final match). They beat Holland in the semifinal on penalties and upset Germany 2-0 in the final.
Qualification: The Danes finished first in qualifying Group H, three points ahead of Portugal and Norway with a 6-1-1 record in eight matches. They were undefeated at home, outscoring opponents 7-1. Their only loss was away to Portugal. A 2-0 friendly loss to Russia in February snapped a streak of five straight wins.
Coach: Morten Olsen, 62, has coached Denmark since 2000. He started off well, reaching the knockout round in the 2002 World Cup and the quarter finals at Euro 2004. Though, Denmark would fail to qualify in 2006 and 2008 and be eliminated in the group stage in 2010.
Squad: Keep an eye on 20-year-old midfielder Christian Eriksen from Ajax. He did not play much in 2010 as an 18-year-old, but he’s coming off a strong club season in the Eredivisie with Ajax, where he scored 7 goals and finished second in the league with 17 assists. The Danes also have a solid goalkeeper, in Stoke centurion Thomas Sorensen. Beyond that it’s mostly okay veteran players, such as Daniel Agger and Dennis Rommedahl and underperforming younger talents, Simon Kjaer and Nicklas Bendtner.
Tactics: The Danes play a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1 depending on groupings. Bendtner up front. Likely two wide forwards/wingers (Rommedahl and Kahlenberg) with two more defensive midfielders Zimling and Kvist, supporting the more attacking Eriksen. Especially against this opposition, it will be bog standard tight defending and counterattacking. I’m not sure their defensive personnel is up to it against elite opposition. Their weakest opponent has Cristiano Ronaldo.
Fun Fact: The world contains 62 LEGO bricks per human inhabitant.
Prognosis: Twenty-second in SPI is not a terrible place to be. The trouble? They are facing No. 2, No. 4 and No. 5 in Group B, hence the 80-1 odds. They might be able to earn a result against Portugal, familiar with them from the last two qualifying rounds, but Germany and the Netherlands should beat them comfortably.
[Photo via Presswire]