Hailing from the nation of fairy-tale author Hans Christian Andersen, this group of Denmark gamers are writing their very own epic story this summer time.
The Danish contingent will not be letting their exceptional Euro 2020 journey finish anytime quickly. Their 4-0 knockout victory in opposition to Wales on Saturday noticed one more unlikely hero write one other chapter on this ever rising and unimaginable story of Kasper Hjulmand’s facet.
It was on the 2016 version of the event the place Wales have been the impartial’s favourites as they reached the semifinals in France. However 5 years on, their story finishes on the spherical of 16 and it is the Danes who’ve taken up that main function.
Following the collapse of Christian Eriksen in the opening match in opposition to Finland, Denmark’s marketing campaign has been a roller-coaster of trauma, emotion, resilience, management and sophistication. There was additional drama and disruption forward of this match in opposition to Wales, because the pre-match staff information seeped via that two of their predominant protagonists have been absent: Yussuf Poulsen out with a thigh harm, and Daniel Wass battling an sickness.
So supervisor Hjulmand seemed throughout the squad, trusted their collective energy. Kasper Dolberg and Jens Stryger Larsen stepped up, with Dolberg scoring two of their 4 targets and Stryger impressing on the appropriate. Their performances have been testomony to the bond this group have, and the belief in each other.
“Clearly I am blissful. That is one thing I have been ready for, particularly sitting on the bench,” stated Dolberg. “No one needs to be on the bench and I felt ready there on the finish of the day had an important consequence. I felt I contributed with one thing nice. I felt it was particular for me. At present every little thing feels proper.”
Hjulmand was by no means meant to guide Denmark into these Euros. That was meant to be the duty of Age Hareide with Hjulmand lined as much as exchange him at event’s finish. However then got here the yr’s delay and Hjulmand took on the recent seat for this extremely robust event.
However he is stayed calm. His quiet and efficient management has empathy and understanding run via its very core. He is managed to maintain the Denmark ship on observe and afloat, regardless of every little thing that is been thrown at them. And he is used the width and breadth of his squad. We have seen numerous protagonists step up and grasp the narrative at totally different levels in these Euros. It has been a real staff effort.
Two weeks in the past on Saturday, Denmark have been dealing with the trauma of seeing Eriksen — their teammate, buddy and greatest participant — undergo his cardiac arrest on their house turf of Parken Stadium in Copenhagen. They someway managed to get via the match in opposition to Finland that night, with Kasper Schmeichel and Simon Kjaer’s management shining via. Thomas Delaney and Poulsen helped kind the protecting human ring round Eriksen as he acquired his therapy on the bottom. They’d lose 1-0 however remained united — and wrote the primary chapter of their story.
The plot took extra twists and turns as Denmark needed to regroup in opposition to Belgium. Regardless of the 2-1 loss to the Pink Devils, Poulsen led from the entrance and scored an excellent opening aim, whereas Wass was excellent down the appropriate. Then, they managed to get their key 4-1 win in opposition to Russia, highlighted by the magnificent aim of Mikkel Damsgaard — the younger 20-year-old who had the unenviable activity of entering into the void left by Eriksen.
“When Christian collapsed, that modified every little thing,” stated Hjulmand. “We have been out in a unique scenario. I’m grateful for the help everybody has proven as that is what we wanted in that second, We would have liked the love and help and that is what gave us wings — I love the boys, they’re warriors.”
Subsequent up was Wales — the Danes’ first match away from Copenhagen. However that they had the backing at Johan Cruyff Area, with Denmark’s followers comfortably outnumbering the opposing contingent on the Amsterdam venue as a consequence of COVID-19 journey restrictions for Welsh followers.
However even then, the build-up to this match was unpredictable. Poulsen and Wass had been two of their reliable lieutenants, however in got here Dolberg and Stryger and neither missed a beat.
Dolberg has had a tough yr, along with his two bouts in opposition to COVID and his appendix eliminated, however he stuffed the sizeable void left by Poulsen to attain their two targets. Again on his previous patch at Ajax (he left the Dutch giants for Good in 2019), he had a exceptional run as he scored a powerful first within the twenty seventh minute. Damsgaard created the house, turned again on Wales’ defence and fed Dolberg who curled house from 25 yards out.
For Dolberg’s second at the beginning of the second-half, he pounced on a Neco Williams error to tuck the ball house from shut vary. The aim stood regardless of Wales’ protestations at Kjaer’s sort out on Kieffer Moore earlier within the transfer.
“I believe we’ve got a star striker in Kasper. I watched him when he was a child and he had that season when he scored 16 targets for Ajax. He did have some problematic phases with accidents and the coronavirus however he bounced again,” Hjulmand stated. “He was charging, and I believe it was meant to be to have this large climax right here. The primary aim was wonderful. It was a tremendous efficiency from Kasper.”
Gareth Bale had a irritating night due to the work of Stryger, who began at proper wing-back. The Udinese man cancelled out Daniel James and Bale, and in addition induced his personal bunch of mischief with some lethal crosses into the Welsh field.
Wales began this match brightly with Bale popping up with two photographs early on, however after 15 or so minutes, Hjulmand moved from 3-4-3 to 4-3-3, shifting Andreas Christensen into the center of midfield. This helped quash this early Welsh optimism, whereas Kjaer and Jannik Vestergaard managed to nullify the aerial menace of Moore. After which because the match drifted away from Wales and their frustration grew, Hjulmand judged his substitutions completely and used Andreas Cornelius to create additional havoc up entrance as Wales have been worn down and the excellent Joakim Maehle, who performed down the left and proper and scored their third.
Wales’ terrible day was compounded by Harry Wilson’s late purple card — which seemed very harsh, for what was a lazy sort out on Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg — and Martin Braithwaite‘s late fourth, initially dominated out for offside, however overturned by VAR as he was performed onside by the foot of Chris Mepham.
Wales will now head again house having impressed within the group stage however have been comfortably crushed within the spherical of 16, struggling their heaviest ever defeat in a Euro finals match. Bale remains to be to disclose what his subsequent step is, having dodged questions over potential retirement all through this event.
However Denmark’s journey continues. Previous to the match, Denmark acquired a good-luck video from their title-winning Euro ’92 heroes. Nobody fancied that staff to win the event, however they triumphed in opposition to the percentages and the likes of Peter Schmeichel, John Jensen, Martin Olsen and the Laudrup brothers have been written into Danish folklore.
This group in 2021 is writing its personal exceptional fairy story, and it is thanks to each member of the squad stepping up. They’re in no temper to put in writing the ultimate chapter on this story anytime quickly.
“One factor at a time. Every sport has its personal course,” added Hjulmand. “We consider within the squad and our high quality, and there is no have to suppose that far forward. I am unable to promise finish outcomes, however I can promise we’ll combat.”