BRIAN LAUDRUP: No one fancied Denmark in the Euro 1992 semi-final either but we shocked the deadly Dutch…. Joakim Maehle is a menace and England must beware
- Denmark stunned a star-studded Netherlands en route to winning Euro 1992
- Laudrup, Peter Schmeichel and Co won on penalties, then defeated Germany
- And although the Danes are underdogs again, England should beware their bite
- Find out the latest Euro 2020 news including fixtures, live action and results here
History provides hope where Denmark are concerned. It’s going to take a monumental effort at Wembley to extend our incredible story in the Euros but beating England on Wednesday is not an impossible task.
Gareth Southgate has some formidable talent at his disposal. Harry Kane tops the list for me. Then there’s Raheem Sterling, Mason Mount, Jack Grealish, Jadon Sancho, Harry Maguire and more.
But what about a line-up containing Marco van Basten, Dennis Bergkamp, Ruud Gullit, Frank Rijkaard, Ronald Koeman and Frank de Boer? They were all in the Holland team Denmark faced in the 1992 semi-final. And we made it through.
Brian Laudrup and Denmark won the European Championship final in 1992 against Germany
Denmark were big underdogs vs the Dutch in the semi and are again at Euro 2020 vs England
It’s a different era of football now, of course. But some of the same fundamentals still apply if Denmark are to end England’s hopes and book a return to Wembley for Sunday’s final.
Starting well is essential. That might sound obvious but it is particularly pertinent to this game. Denmark looked a bit tired at the end of their 2-1 win over Czech Republic on Saturday. The conditions in Baku, the heat and humidity, were very tough.
There are only four days between the quarter-final and the semi-final. And Denmark had to take a nine-hour flight home from Baku. That has to take a toll. In this situation, you are playing time as well as the opponent.
The performance against the Czechs wasn’t all about brilliant football, but the players dug in and really suffered to get the result. Perhaps that weariness is one concern. It was exactly the same in 1992.
We were already close to emptying our tank of energy come the semis but then we scored after five minutes against Holland. We had wings again. The tiredness was forgotten. It ended up 2-2 after extra-time and we won on penalties.
SHARING THE LOVE
This time around, Denmark face an England team yet to concede in the tournament. It’s a very nice statistic but it doesn’t hugely worry me. The scoring prowess of Kasper Hjulmand’s side has probably been the revelation of the Euros from our point of view.
Without Christian Eriksen, who made the difference on a number of big occasions, the question was whether enough attacking threat could be found. Guys like Yussuf Poulsen, Kasper Dolberg and Martin Braithwaite hadn’t scored that many in recent times.
But every one of them has turned up in this competition. Joakim Maehle, Mikkel Damsgaard, Andreas Christensen and Thomas Delaney are also contributing. There are now goals throughout a team who have been so impressive.
Ten were scored over the last three games against Russia, Wales and the Czechs. In each of those matches, Denmark took the lead. Getting the first goal could be critical again. It’s hugely important we don’t concede early.
Kasper Dolberg (right) and several other attackers have stepped up and scored big goals
In terms of defending, I would say Denmark and England are on a similar level. To me, it’s about which attack really clicks and which individuals can find those moments of brilliance that will make a difference.
With that in mind, Kane has checked into the tournament at the worst possible point for us Danes. He looked a little tired in the group games, a bit frustrated. He was dropping a lot deeper than he does usually.
But his goal against Germany has opened the floodgates. It was followed up against Ukraine and if you look at this England team, Kane is the one who stands out. No doubt. He could play at an even bigger club than he’s at right now.
You have to hand it to Sterling, too. He’s having a superb tournament and his movement is so difficult to track. I suppose the question is likely to be which other attacker joins them.
England captain Harry Kane is the one who stands out as the biggest danger to Denmark now
Being honest, Grealish is the one I’d hate to see from a Danish perspective. I know he hasn’t been in the starting line-up very often and has had to take a bit of a different role to the one with Aston Villa. But he has the X-factor.
I love watching him play, although I might not feel the same way on Wednesday. England also really benefited from set-pieces against Ukraine. Denmark have to be careful about them but I think we’ll manage.
The Czech Republic went very direct in the latter part of the quarter-final but the back three of Simon Kjaer, Christensen and Jannik Vestergaard dealt with it. They are used to coping with crosses.
In my view, the movement of Kane, Sterling and others is where the real danger lies.
BEWARE MAEHLE THE MENACE
We’ll need to wait and see exactly what formations are deployed but the battle between Denmark’s wing backs and England’s full backs could be another vital element.
Maehle has been outstanding. His assist for Dolberg on Saturday, off the outside of his right foot, was like something Luka Modric would produce.
Joakim Maehle (left) is a menace and his battle with Kyle Walker should be great to watch
His energy levels are also incredible. He is one I would say has not yet looked tired. Even if he fails with his first couple of runs, he will keep trying. That makes him a menace.
It will be fascinating to see his one-v-one against Kyle Walker if it turns out that way. The Manchester City man is excellent, quick and aggressive. But he will have to watch out for Maehle, too.
Denmark will have to defend deep at times. And they will have moments when they are able to press. But the space behind England’s full backs is one area they can look to exploit with the pace they have.
THE WEMBLEY FACTOR
Wembley itself could be a factor. I played there a couple of times when it was the old stadium. I found it quite an inspiring place. It’s one of the mythical stadiums of world football.
Some of these Denmark players can draw on the experience of winning at Wembley in the Nations League last year.
The fact that the game is at Wembley in front of home fans could well be a factor in the match
However, that was a completely different game — with Maguire being sent off in the first half — so I wouldn’t read much into it.
Clearly, though, playing in London is going to be an advantage for England. That can’t be disputed. This will be the first time, really, that opposition supporters will out-power the Danes.
Like England, we played our group games at home. In the last 16, there were very few Welsh fans in Amsterdam because of travel restrictions, while Denmark had about 10,000 in the stadium.
Even in Baku, there were around 1,000 fans supporting the team. An extraordinary number, really, when you consider the distance. It still felt more like a home game in terms of the atmosphere.
History tells us that Danes really love being the underdog and could upset England in the semi
We have about 5,000 tickets for Wembley, so the hope is that Danes living in the UK will be able to get them and make a difference. But you could have 55,000 England fans there. The noise should be incredible.
With the remaining matches being in London, I have no problem with all the talk of football coming home. Just as long as the trophy comes to Copenhagen!
Seriously, though, there is no doubt England will be seen as favourites by most of the international media.
That’s understandable. But sometimes Danes really love being the underdog. History tells you that.
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