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Kasper Schmeichel was formidable in Denmark’s goal
This game against England means a lot to Denmark. It has been a special tournament for them because of the way it started and how the team came together and came out of a group in a dramatic way.
The trauma of the first game and the medical emergency with Christian Eriksen created a stronger bond and a stronger empathy between the people and the team than we would normally see – I think it had a tangible effect.
Playing in England at Wembley is also special as the Scandinavian interest in English football predates its worldwide spread.
There is a realization that this is a different kettle for Denmark – it is a huge challenge for them.
Denmark have had the third most shots in the tournament, but the main strength is the team’s defensive core.
Kasper Schmeichel is a formidable goalkeeper – a potential match winner – and center-backs Andreas Christensen, Simon Kjaer and Jannik Vestergaard are very good.
Then there are the two midfielders of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Thomas Delaney – this defensive six is really difficult to face. There are a lot of tall, strong men who are going to make life difficult.
Forward Kasper Dolberg got a bit lost at Ajax and this year his move to Nice has not been a great success. He has had some health issues but now appears to have found a touch of goal for Denmark.
In this game, it’s going to be about what happens on the flanks, because that’s where most of Denmark’s attacks come from.
Joakim Maehle was a revelation for the left winger – it’s weird, but we’re in the semi-finals and you can say out loud that Denmark’s left-back may have been the player of the tournament ‘without having the look ridiculous.
The key battleground, as is often the case when a team play 3-4-3 like Denmark, will be the space behind the full-backs – this is a problem with no obvious solution in this formation.
We know Denmark are flexible – against Wales when Dan James and Gareth Bale started threatening, they switched formation and turned him into 4-3-3 – and that was an indication that the Coach Kasper Hjulmand has a lot going on for him.
He proved a lot of people wrong – Denmark has always seen themselves as the Brazilians of the Nordic countries and the country that plays football well. Hjulmand’s taking office was a step in the right direction as he loves Johan Cruyff and Pep Guardiola and is a bit of a dreamer.
This tournament for him has, however, been more about men’s management, and it will be interesting to see how he approaches the game with England, who have terribly good players.
I think England will pass – they’re the better team and Denmark will face stronger opponents than they’ve faced before – but England will also have to deal with things they haven’t encountered .
Denmark can score a goal from somewhere – it can be a set piece, as the three center-backs can all manage in the air, as can Thomas Delaney.
I wouldn’t be surprised if it was extra time or penalties – I can see a 2-1 win for England in overtime.
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FIRST POSTED 4:30 PM, JULY 6, 2021