Denmark is the Euro 2020 underdog nobody wants to face
With Euro 2020 set to begin on Friday, fans are digging into the group stage matchups and predicting whom they believe will advance to the knockout stages. While the favorites are all expected to move on, there are teams outside the main group that could cause headaches for opposing managers.
The 10th-ranked team in the latest FIFA World Rankings, Denmark is a side that nobody wants to face. At +2500 to win the tournament, the Danes sit ninth in the 24-nation field for best odds to lift the trophy. Although they're definitely longshots, it wouldn't be shocking to see them play a role in preventing a favorite from winning the tournament.
The Danes are loaded in defense
Denmark perfectly fulfils the old adage that "defense wins championships," and it starts with the spine of their squad. Kasper Schmeichel’s large frame will patrol the area between the posts, with Andreas Christensen, Simon Kjaer, and Jannik Vestergaard all in contention to start in central defense. Thomas Delaney and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg will patrol the midfield in front of the back line and provide plenty of cover.
The Danes did not lose a single match in their Euro qualifying matches, and in their three World Cup qualifying matches thus far have not conceded a single goal. While the competition they will face will be much stouter, only Belgium represents a true threat to their defense in the group stage, with Russia and Finland real contenders to be held scoreless in their meetings with the Danes.
Can they create enough chances going forward?
The biggest question mark for Denmark is if they have enough firepower to secure victories in regulation. The top two teams in each group automatically advance, and the four best third-place sides from the six groups will join them. This means it is important to get more than just draws in the group stage.
Christian Eriksen is going to be the key man, and he will need to have a bump in form from his domestic campaign with Inter Milan, where he scored just three goals. With Hojberg and Delaney doing the dirty work in midfield, Eriksen should be freed up to focus on locating forwards Martin Braithwaite and Yussuf Poulsen further up the pitch.
Eriksen is very dangerous on set pieces, and if the Danes are able to secure some free kicks near the penalty box, it could be their best chance to get on the board. It will be vitally important that they get at least one victory against either Finland or Russia, and finish second in the group to get into the knockout rounds. That will likely rely on whether their attack is able to do their jobs.
Schmeichel is an x-factor for Denmark
If Denmark can get to the knockout stage, anything can happen. Their defense is quite stout, and things tend to tighten up once you get out of the group stage. A single goal could be the decider for either side, and the Danes could easily steal a result or two. Furthermore, if they get to the end of regulation level, and the match is not decided in extra time, Schmeichel provides an imposing figure in a penalty shootout and has the ability to save attempts from the spot.
If Denmark can get their attack figured out, they could easily be a nightmare matchup for higher-ranked squads and could frustrate some of the better attacking sides in the tournament. If they are able to live up to their defensive expectations, they will provide some solid betting value for fans, and they will have the other nations in Euro 2020 hoping to avoid them at all costs.