June 12, 2021, is a day that all soccer fans remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when Christian Eriksen collapsed at Parken Stadium in Copenhagen. A year and a half later, Eriksen is back and ready to lead Denmark to the World Cup finals. Last year’s EURO 2020 was successful for Denmark, as they reached the Semi-Finals. After that followed a highly successful World Cup qualifying series, where they gather an impressive 27 points out of the maximum 30. Add to that two victories over France in the Nations League and you got yourself a force to be reckoned with.
How do they play?
Kasper Hjulmand has proved himself as a mature coach who is not afraid to adapt his game plan depending on the opponent. Thus, Denmark can freely play with two center backs in one game but already use three in the next. Denmark’s game is based on a strong defense, fast wingers, and a very well-balanced midfield, where Pierre-Emile Höjbjerg and Thomas Delaney allow the brains of their team, Christian Eriksen, to create chances up front.
Why they can win?
The Danish team has a good symbiosis of experienced leaders and young stallions, who link up well. They are considered a dark horse before the tournament, and Hjulmand doesn’t mind that at all. On the contrary! “It’s great because it means we’re doing something right. It would be even better if they said that we are the favorites,” he mused. Their trump is not only teamwork, but they actually have top players in almost every position – the 36-year-old Kasper Schmeichel in goal, Andreas Christensen and Simon Kjaer in defense, Joakim Mähle, one of the team’s leading figures, is making opposition’s life miserable on the left wing, and the trio Höjbjerg – Delaney – Eriksen works perfectly in the midfield.
Why they can lose?
The Danish national team has two main concerns. The first is that perhaps too much is already expected of them. They have raised the country’s expectations sky-high in just a couple of years. Can this pressure be handled? And secondly, they don’t have a sure goal machine who you can always count on. They have a lot of men with strong international experience, all of whom can shine at some point, but there is no clear leader in front of the goal.
The leading stars
The leaders should be looked for in the trio of Schmeichel, Kjaer, and Eriksen. All of them are experienced players, more than 30 years old, but still in top form, and there is no need to fear for anyone’s performance in this tournament. What is especially important about the mentioned trio – they are leaders on the field, but they are also role models in the dressing room as well. When they talk, everyone listens. Both young and old.
The fresh faces
The vast majority of Denmark’s goals come through the left wing, which is likely to be manned by 25-year-old Joakim Mähle and 22-year-old Mikkel Damsgaard. Both are still rather young players, but they have already reached the point in their careers where they are playing in top leagues. Mähle plays every day in Atalanta in Serie A, while Damsgaard plays where many other Danes do – for Brentford in the English Premier League.