12th June was the date when we all witnessed something scary yet unexpected at the same time, as the clock in the game between Denmark and Finland was nearing the 45-minute mark, the modern face of Danish football, Christian Eriksen collapsed on the field suddenly, the stadium full of fans cheering for their respective teams became silent as the fans across the world witnessed a horrific sight in front of them.
Danish players praying for the well-being of their star-man Eriksen.
While there were doubts about how the Danish team would cope up with this traumatizing incident and deliver the best version of their style of play, things became worse when minnows Finland scored their first-ever goal in international competitions to stun the home crowd, in the end, the result summed up the upset which was caused that night as Denmark lost their opening game of the EUROs and perhaps the easiest one as their remaining matches were against Belgium and Russia.
As I currently write further, Denmark became the first team to book a place into the Quarter- Finals of the European championship as they thrashed last edition’s Dark horses Wales with ease after a brace from Dolberg powered them through.
The question which arises after witnessing promising such exhilarating performances from the Danish team is whether this team is still powered by emotions? Or are they the real deal?
Denmark came into this tournament Ranked 10th in the FIFA rankings of men’s Football and played a convincing draw against Germany in their pre-tournament friendlies in June, they were never considered as the dark horses for the competition, with Italy taking that spot while predictions were being made by experts from all over the world.
Is Denmark the new Dark Horse?
But the truth is that Denmark plays expansive and high pressing football to make life tough for their opponents, they are quick to close down gaps and recover their 4-1-4-1 structure defensively, and having midfielders and versatile full-backs help them to create chances all over the pitch, despite missing their key playmaker Christian Eriksen.
The first glimpse of their style of play was seen against the number 1 ranked Belgium side, Denmark took the lead early in the game and caused all sorts of problems to that ageing backline of Belgium, their constant pressing made it hard for their opponents to play out from the back and while Courtois tried to find Lukaku by playing it long the Belgium striker was isolated upfront against the likes Simon Kjaer.
Denmark has indeed struggled with issues on and off the pitch this European championship and the emotions have certainly played a role in their late rise in the competition this year, but it would be unfair to underestimate the tactical intelligence and the effort put in by the players in these tough circumstances. The message is simple, underestimate Denmark at your own cost.