The Danes joining Germany on the plane to Qatar next year. They are making a good case for the team of the year. Here they made it eight wins out of eight making them worthy qualifiers. They have play an expansive attacking brand of soccer in these qualifiers although against the Austrians here they were a bit cautious. I can’t blame them after they lost their best attacking threat Damsgaard through injury in the first half. The Austrians were always never going to be any pushovers. They stretched eventual champions Italy to the limit at Euro 2020 in the second round. With experience in their side in the form of Sabitzer(Bayern) and Alaba(Real Madrid) I kind of hoped for an upset to be honest. Great defensive organization from the Austrians though to restrict the Danes to just the single goal.
Instead they never really tested Schmeichel and despite having more of the ball and more passes. Denmark’s passing was less in quantity but it was more into the dangerous areas. Not surprised the goal came from Maehle. The amount of times he spends in the opposition half greatly increases his chances of scoring for a left back. If there is a weakness in this Danish side it has to be at center forward. They have had a variety of goal scorers throughout these qualifiers which to some is a good thing. But for me you need that out and out goal scorer to win a major tournament. No disrespect to Poulsen who is a good player but not at center forward, nope. Finding that great number 9 is the next major task for Kasper Hjulmand before the world cup.
Who would have thought the Danes would run away with a Group that includes their opponents above , Scotland and Austria. Their demolition job in Copenhagen against the Israelis ,who have been riding high after an impressive 5-2 win over Austria in the last match day, was their sixth victory out of six. You now have to be brave to bet against them appearing in Qatar next year. What usually happens after a major tournament is that the most impressive players in it tend to tail off, but that has not been the case for Denmark’s stars of Euro 2020. Players like Delaney, Hojbjerg and Maehle have picked off were they left off. Disappointingly for Israel, their most important players ZAHAVI(PSV) and Solomon(DONETSK) were never in it. How easy was it for the Danes? Well no shots on target for Israel, Denmark dominated passes and possession. Defending set pieces isn’t Israel’s thing as evidenced by goal number 2 for Denmark. Standard practice is picking up a man but not everyone did that.
The technique on the Olsen goal was much harder than it looks. All senses points to him taking a first touch but he would have none of it. Getting the direction right and keeping it low. Great stuff. DID I MENTION MARKING SET PIECES ISN’T ISRAEL’S THING? On Cornelius’s fifth goal, how can a defender be allow the attacker to head the ball when the defender is in front of the attacker until the very last moment? This is treasonous defending. Israel slip to third in the Group 7 points behind the Danes and a point behind Scotland in second place.
When VAR was introduced a little over two seasons ago the main objective was to cut out the refereeing human errors that decide important games. The rate of errors has generally gone down save for a few minor debatable decisions. When referee Danny Makkelie pointed to the spot upon Raheem Sterling hitting the deck in the box 13 minutes into extra time, I was certain the VAR will play its part. No contact on Sterling a clear dive and dare I say yellow card to the Man City man for simulation. As it turns out VAR ratified the ref’s decision, not even a pitch side review for that matter. Home town decision? Yes. Referee at fault? No. The action happens sometimes too fast for the naked eye. VAR useless? Absolutely. It was as if they were afraid of disappointing somebody. Nevertheless the actual soccer was enthralling. Damsgaard at last scoring from a direct free kick, the first of the tournament. The days of bend it like Beckham are surely long gone in the game of soccer.
England never panicked to going behind and if they were to come back it always had to involve Harry Kane. The 150 million quid rated striker’s pass to Saka made that equalizer possible. Man of the match performance from Hojbjerg, Kane’s club mate. He matched Phillips if not surpass him in terms of blade of grass covered in this game. The downfall for the Danes was that they retreated into a defensive shell far too early in extra time. If they had been as adventurous as they have been in the first half in making more plays in the England box they would have had something to smile about. The issue with England is why they don’t start with Jack Grealish. The Villa man clearly is a creative force, maybe Southgate doesn’t believe he is a 90 minute guy. English defense deserve credit. They were flawless on the night with Maguire and Stones hardly making errors. Sunday is the biggest match in English soccer for 55 years as they will look to break their Euro duck. The Italians will not be pushovers, they themselves will want to banish disappointments of the last few years. Let’s hope referees and politics(notice how conveniently Wembley is allowed to be full when the Three Lions Play, and two Euro semi finals on the same venue come on) don’t interfere with a great game.
The Welsh offering little by way of goal mouth action in this one. Another 4 goal match for Denmark. Besides the opening 10 minutes with Bale missing the best chance , Wales struggled. Dolberg’s double either side of the break to put Denmark 2-0 up was the game right there and then. The second was particularly bad to concede with Neco Williams at fault.
I learnt that when the big Welsh players are not on song there is virtually no one to step up. Bale and Ramsey had a subdued game. Whilst as for the Danes anyone is capable of scoring. Even the sub Joachim nearly scored right at the end. Denmark’s left winger Maehle is having a hell of a tournament, his switch to the right earned him a goal, Denmark’s third. Denmark through to the last eight for the first time since 2004 when they lost to the Czech Republic who incidentally could be their opponents this time around if they overcome the Dutch.
Denmark went from last in Group B to second place at the end of the day in a dramatic win over Russia in Copenhagen. On the balance of play it was fully deserved as the Danes were positive from the outset. They knew they had to win and win handsomely to not rely on other results namely the Belgium-Finland clash. In the end the Belgians won that one, they probably have the strongest second string side in the world by the way. The Russians have only themselves to blame . Watch the second goal scored by Poulsen, unnecessary backpass. They were negative, it was evident by their time wasting tactics right from the start of the match that they were looking for a draw. They only went for broke when down 3-1 once news filtered in that Finland were going down against the Belgians.
By that time the Danes were home and dry and punished them on the counter with pace from Maehle. Hojbjerg and Delaney with a man of the match displays, Pierre-Emile was awesome in particular despite playing with a head injury. How about that goal from Chelsea’s center back Christiensen. Not a hit an hope but he caught it beautifully and with direction. One thing that Denmark has that makes them the team to watch in these Euros is the number of leaders they have on the pitch. Take your pick, Schmeichel, Kjaer, Hojbjerg Vestergaard and blend it with the young up and comers Damsgaard and Norgaard it may be party like 1992 on 11 July.