Denmark put together an eye-catching run to the semifinal of Euro 2020. Then, it followed that up with an impressive display in the UEFA Nations League. Now, Denmark looks to achieve another long and fruitful campaign at the 2022 World Cup.
Four years ago, Denmark narrowly lost out to the eventual runner-up Croatia in the round of 16. Surely, Denmark backs itself for a better showing this time out. Head coach Kasper Hjulmand has a fully fit squad to choose from. On their day, the squad is full of world beaters.
All the cameras and headlines focus on Christian Eriksen. His cardiac arrest in the opening game in the Euros drew and air of neutral support for the Danes. Amazingly, the 30-year-old returned to health and fitness, featuring heavily in the Premier League.
After a successful sting at Brentford, Eriksen made the move to Manchester United as a free agent. Playing in the midfield, he is putting together a strong campaign in a rejuvenated United side. He also returned to play for Denmark in both World Cup Qualifying and the Nations League.
In the latter, Denmark lost to Croatia twice, both by a scoreline of 1-0. However, the Danes did defeat the defending World Cup winners, France, twice. Therefore, Denmark has the experience against its biggest opponent in Group D of the World Cup.
Denmark finished top of their qualification group with 27 points from 10 games. It won nine and picked up just one loss for a near-perfect record.
Hjumland prefers a 4-3-3 setup. However, his side are adept to playing in numerous systems. Consequently, the manager makes in-game changes regularly depending on the situation.
Thomas Delany and Pierre Emile Højbjerg are the focal point in midfield along midfield. Meanwhile, captain Simon Kjær and hardworking wingback Joachim Maehle are the pillars in defense. Kasper Schmeichel, in between the sticks, provides a calming presence. Yet, he has struggled since moving out of Leicester to join French club Nice in the summer.
Certainly the 1992 European Triumph and the way they won the tournament. Few remember that the Danes were not scheduled to play in that continental cup. In fact, the side finished second to Yugoslavia in its qualifying group. But, the latter was suspended from playing competitive football by FIFA and UEFA. That stems from the collapse of the Soviet Union and the ensuing Yugoslav Wars.
That Euro 1992 team featured players like Brian Laudrup, Lars Elstrup and Peter Schmeichel. En route to winning, Denmark knocked off France and the Netherlands. Then, in the final, Denmark upset a Germany side that won the World Cup two years prior.
What Denmark brings to World Cup 2022
A free-flowing brand of football that will be easy on the eye. Denmark are extremely organized at the back, tough to break down and resilient even when the chips are down thanks to their never-say-die attitude. It was in full display in the Euro 2020, where despite losing the first two games, they went on to narrowly lose against England in the semifinal. Expect 22-year-old Mikkel Damsgaard to light up the biggest of stages in World Football. After all, that is what he did as a relatively unknown player in the Euros. This is despite the fact he is yet to overly impress and show full potential at Brentford.
Hipster Predictions: Denmark should make it out of the group having been placed alongside France, Tunisia and Australia. Should they beat France, which is much possible that it seems, they could top the group. However, if they finish second, this will mean that they could face the winners of Group C that features Argentina, Mexico, Poland and Saudi Arabia. In the round of 16 however, Argentina will be too hard of a nut to crack.
PHOTO: IMAGO / Gonzales Photo
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