EURO 2012 team preview: Denmark

21 May 2012

Written by: Shane Palmer Palmer

Can Nicklas Bendtner keep his cool and lead the Danes to EURO glory? (image: Ronnie MacDonald via wikimedia)

FIFA World Ranking:

9th

Group opponents:

Group B:

v. Holland – June 9 – Metalist Stadium – Kharkiv

v. Portugal – June 13 – Arena Lviv – Lviv

v. Germany – June 17 – Arena Lviv – Lviv

The road to the championship:

Denmark qualified for EURO 2012 as winners of group H, topping the likes of Portugal and Norway; and automatically qualified for the finals. The Danes opened their campaign with a 1-0 win over Iceland, Thomas Khalenberg scoring the winner in the 91st minute. The trip to Portugal resulted in a 3-1 loss, but the Danes stayed on track with a 2-0 win over Cyprus, followed by a handy 1-1 draw in Norway.

Denmark won its next four consecutive matches to earn a place at EURO 2012, which included a 2-1 victory in Copenhagen over Portugal.

Nicklas Bendtner and Dennis Rommedahl were joint top-scorers in qualification, with three goals each.

Past success:

Champions: 1992

Star Players:

Daniel Agger – Liverpool’s Danish centre-back enjoyed a mostly successful 2011/12 season, partnering Martin Skrtel in the Red’s defence, but more importantly; he stayed fit. Agger’s performance was a major factor in helping Liverpool lift their first trophy since 2006, when they defeated Cardiff in the Carling Cup final.

At EURO 2012 Agger will have the likes of Mario Gomez, Robin Van Persie and Cristiano Ronaldo to deal with – and that’s just in the group stage. Agger’s form will be crucial if Denmark is to keep their much-stronger opponents at bay in the Ukraine.

Dennis Rommedahl – the 33-year-old winger has won 114 caps for the national side; second only to the great Peter Schmeichel. Rommedahl is likely to be deployed wide on the right, as part of Olsen’s front three; he will dart up and down the wing, and look to pick out Nicklas Bendtner with his pin-point crossing.

Player to watch out for:

Nicklas Bendtner – loaned out to Sunderland on the final day of the August 2011 transfer window, Bendtner enjoyed a good patch of form in the latter stages of the 2011/12 season, scoring seven goals for his temporary club, as well as notching up five assists as well.

Still only 24, the enigmatic Bendtner is the likely man to lead Morten Olsen’s attack, and will need to summon his very best if he is to breach the usually-stoic defences of Germany and Holland.

The Coach:

Morten Olsen – has managed Denmark for 12 years now, and the side in over 100 matches; something decidedly rare in modern international football. Olsen offers a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Danish set-up; he guided Denmark to the 2002 and 2010 FIFA World Cups, as well as EURO 2004. Olsen led Brøndby to the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup in 1991 – the greatest club achievement for a Danish side in European competition.

Olsen’s greatest international success came at the 2002 World Cup in Japan & South Korea, where Denmark reached the round of 16, only to be eliminated by England 3-0.

Classic EURO moment:

EURO 1992

Denmark was granted entry for the ‘92 tournament in Sweden by complete chance: replacing the disqualified Yugoslavia just weeks before the tournament kicked off. Denmark had failed in the qualification process, finishing second in qualifying Group 4. Head Coach Richard Møller claimed he was part-way through refurbishing his kitchen when informed of the news.

The Danes opened their campaign with a scoreless draw against England, and looked poised for an early elimination after defeat at the hands of Sweden. Yet a miraculous victory over France in the final group match earned them a semi final berth, against Holland.

Denmark held the twice over the Dutch, a brace from Henrik Larsen paving the way, yet an 89th minute strike from Frank Rijkaard pushed the match to extra time and penalties. Dutch legend Marco Van Basten was the only player to miss from the penalty spot, as Denmark went through to the final in Gothenburg.

The Danes then beat the reigning World Champions Germany in the Final, 2-0.

Prediction:

Denmark has a very tough group in Germany, Portugal and Holland. The Dutch and the Germans are among the favourites to win the tournament, while Portugal are always a competitive side. Denmark will need to conjure as much luck as the team in ’92 possessed to progress at EURO 2012, yet sadly they lack the top-class players – such as Peter Schmeichel or Brian Laudrup – that lined up in the championship-winning side.

EURO 2012 will be a tough tournament for the Danes, who will be unlikely to progress out of the group stage.

Shane Palmer is a third-year Bachelor of Journalism student at La Trobe, and is part of the upstart editorial team. You can follow him on Twitter: @SDPalmer12.

upstart is previewing each of the final teams in the lead up to the EURO 2012.  Tomorrow’s team: Germany.