There may be a temptation to assume Denmark are driving 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 tenth greatest workforce on the planet for a purpose.
Nonetheless, what they’ve been in a position to obtain with out Eriksen, their greatest participant, stays outstanding. There have been Denmark gamers in tears as they warmed up for the restart of their opening recreation with Finland after having seen Eriksen go away the pitch on a stretcher, barely aware. Lots of them, understandably, appeared to play out the 1-0 defeat in a daze. Towards the Czechs, nevertheless, there was vitality and dedication and, on the closing whistle, there have been tears of a special variety.
Earlier than the match, Denmark had not gained a knockout recreation on the Euros since profitable it in 1992, once they have been requested to exchange Yugoslavia at a weeks’ discover. Now they’ve a semifinal at Wembley to stay up for. They’ve already gained there as soon as this season, beating England 1-0 within the Nations League in October.
Underdogs? Sure. Rank outsiders? Not an opportunity.
“It is onerous to place into phrases,” mentioned Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel afterwards.
“The Czech Republic is an insanely tough workforce to play towards. We performed properly within the first half, however the second was tough. We will struggle and struggle, and we did. It was an important 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 purpose 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 surface of his proper boot, bent in a cross which was met on the again submit by Dolberg’s cushioned volley.
Dolberg was chased by a few of Europe’s greatest golf equipment as a young person at Ajax. Now 23 and taking part in 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 certainly to be within the workforce at Wembley on Wednesday towards both England or Ukraine.
Patrik Schick‘s fifth purpose 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 towards Spain and Switzerland towards 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 grew to become an aerial assault, and Denmark may have added no less than yet another had they been extra medical on the break.
“Denmark are an important workforce,” mentioned Czech Republic captain Vladimir Darida. “They defended properly, and the early purpose helped their ways. It’s so onerous to get into them. It’s only a pity.
“There may be nothing we needs to be ashamed of. We confirmed good performances, preventing spirit, we fought just like the lions on our crest. That was apparent in right now’s match additionally.
“It’s a pity we couldn’t equalise, as a result of I imagine that it might have turned our means then.”
With out their star man Eriksen, Denmark’s energy lies within the collective. Maehle’s cross for Dolberg’s purpose was one of many passes of the match, however there was lots extra within the efficiency that will not make the spotlight reel. There was Andreas Christensen risking a bloody nostril to problem Tomas Soucek and forestall 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 very good, however so was his stooping header to clear a Czech free kick from his close to submit, after which his dash out to dam a subsequent cross in. Denmark should not wanting assist 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 greatest is properly deserved.