03 Jul Denmark proceed to indicate they’re no underdogs, even with out Eriksen
There may be a temptation to assume Denmark are using a wave of goodwill at these European Championships after the world watched Christian Eriksen collapse on the pitch three weeks in the past, however their run to the semifinals of Euro 2020 is being pushed by extra than simply future and fairytale.
There was nothing mysterious about their 2-1 win over Czech Republic on Saturday. Denmark are good gamers, properly coached by Kasper Hjulmand, and are in a position to rating objectives of top quality and equally defend with grit. Denmark are ranked because the 10th finest team on this planet for a motive.
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Nonetheless, what they’ve been in a position to obtain with out Eriksen, their finest participant, stays exceptional. There have been Denmark gamers in tears as they warmed up for the restart of their opening recreation with Finland after having seen Eriksen depart the pitch on a stretcher, barely acutely aware. A lot of them, understandably, appeared to play out the 1-Zero defeat in a daze. In opposition to the Czechs, nonetheless, there was vitality and willpower and, on the closing whistle, there have been tears of a distinct sort.
Earlier than the match, Denmark had not gained a knockout recreation on the Euros since successful it in 1992, once they had been requested to interchange Yugoslavia at a weeks’ discover. Now they’ve a semifinal at Wembley to sit up for. They’ve already gained there as soon as this season, beating England 1-Zero within the Nations League in October.
Underdogs? Sure. Rank outsiders? Not an opportunity.
“It is arduous to place into phrases,” mentioned Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel afterwards.
“The Czech Republic is an insanely troublesome team to play in opposition to. We performed properly within the first half, however the second was troublesome. We are able to struggle and struggle, and we did. It was an amazing reduction when the ultimate whistle got here.”
Performed in sweltering warmth in Baku, Azerbaijan, Thomas Delaney gave Denmark the proper begin after 5 minutes with a header angled into the web from Jens Stryger Larsen’s nook. It was not with out its fortune after replays confirmed Czech Republic ought to have been given a aim kick after the ball got here off Kasper Dolberg, however there was nothing fortunate about Denmark’s second.
Joakim Maehle was despatched racing away down the left simply earlier than half-time and, with the skin of his proper boot, bent in a cross which was met on the again publish by Dolberg’s cushioned volley.
Dolberg was chased by a few of Europe’s largest golf equipment as a teen at Ajax. Now 23 and enjoying within the France with Good, he’s utilizing the Euros to remind everybody what all of the fuss was about. He is began two video games, scored three objectives and absolutely to be within the team at Wembley on Wednesday in opposition to both England or Ukraine.
Patrik Schick’s fifth aim of the match — a intelligent volley ushered into the far nook — gave Czech Republic hope they may pull off a comeback much like these of Croatia in opposition to Spain and Switzerland in opposition to France, however Denmark managed the second half like they have been on this place a thousand instances earlier than.
The again three repelled what ultimately turned an aerial assault, and Denmark may have added at the very least yet another had they been extra scientific on the break.
“Denmark are an amazing team,” mentioned Czech Republic captain Vladimir Darida. “They defended properly, and the early aim helped their ways. It’s so arduous to get into them. It’s only a pity.
“There may be nothing we ought to be ashamed of. We confirmed good performances, combating spirit, we fought just like the lions on our crest. That was apparent in at present’s match additionally.
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SATURDAY, JULY 3
• Czech Rep v Denmark (11:50 a.m. ET)
• Ukraine v England (2:50 p.m. ET)
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“It’s a pity we couldn’t equalise, as a result of I consider that it will have turned our method then.”
With out their star man Eriksen, Denmark’s power lies within the collective. Maehle’s cross for Dolberg’s aim was one of many passes of the match, however there was a lot extra within the efficiency that will not make the spotlight reel. There was Andreas Christensen risking a bloody nostril to problem Tomas Soucek and stop the West Ham midfielder from heading in an equaliser, and Schmeichel racing out to smother an opportunity which had fallen to Tomas Holes.
Dolberg’s end was excellent, however so was his stooping header to clear a Czech free kick from his close to publish, after which his dash out to dam a subsequent cross in. Denmark aren’t wanting help at these Euros, however they don’t seem to be missing in expertise and work ethic, both.
It takes greater than only a good story to achieve the final 4 of a serious match. Their place amongst Europe’s finest is properly deserved.