There are tougher tasks than the one that awaits Denmark in Poland and the Ukraine, it’s just difficult to think of them right now.
The unlucky losers in the group of death, the Danes will have to face Holland, Portugal and Germany in the finals, surely one of the most difficult assignments that anyone entering a tournament has ever been given. The Danes famously won the European Championships having not been initially entered into it in 1992, but getting out of the group here might be an even bigger surprise.
It is somewhat of a shame that they’ve been given the group of death following what was an impressive qualifying campaign in which they finished above the Portuguese.
Denmark – who chalked up six wins and a draw in qualifying to finish comfortably above Portugal and Norway – will begin their campaign with a match against the Dutch in Kharkiv on June 9th, just as they did at the World Cup in 2010 when they lost 2-0. Expect the same thing to happen again (Holland win 4/6 SkyBet).
That would of course get the Danes’ campaign off to the worst possible start, and it would be difficult to see it improving given what lies ahead, although they can draw on their qualifying experience when they go into the Portugal game in Lviv on June 13th (Draw 13/5 Stan James).
Germany would be next up back in Lviv on June 17th (Germany win 8/15 Boylesports), and with that would surely come the end of Denmark’s campaign, no doubt leaving them wondering just what might have been (group quadcast: Germany 1st, Holland 2nd, Portugal 3rd, Denmark 4th 13/4, Holland 1st, Germany 2nd, Portugal 3rd, Denmark 4th 4/1 Bwin).
Veteran boss Morten Olsen has been in the Denmark post since 2000, and the 62-year-old surely deserved more luck that getting a group this tough in what is likely to be one of his final tournaments in charge (group points: exactly 0 10/3, exactly 1 5/2 Bet Victor).
The draw has shifted attention away from what is a talented Danish squad, and one which would have been in with a real chance of qualification and perhaps even finishing top of the group had they been drawn into the far easier Group A.
Their squad is features names familiar to Premier League viewers, with Stoke City goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen, the Liverpool defender Daniel Agger and Nicklas Bendtner – who showed flashes of promise on loan at Sunderland from Arsenal last season – all ready to play a part in what will be a struggle against the might of their opposition.
Bendtner (top goalscorer 100/1 Bet Victor) in particular could be one of the more interesting players to watch given that he is likely to be targeting a summer move at the finals, but key to the Danes’ performances is sure to be the exciting Ajax attacking midfielder Christian Eriksen, a 20-year-old who is being lined up by several of the top clubs for a summer transfer and could become available after the tournament. A couple of decent performances – especially given the calibre of Denmark’s opposition – are likely to see that price tag soar.
Some of the older players in the Danish squad such as the former Charlton winger Dennis Rommedahl, ex-Everton, Blackburn and West Ham full-back Lars Jacobsen, Sorensen and the midfielder Christian Poulsen, a flop at Liverpool, will surely be making their last finals appearances, and they could provide the answers to just why the Danes won’t be able to cope with their high class opposition.
An early exit beckons, as does a strongly worded letter to Uefa about the seedings for this tournament.