With an impressive qualifying campaign that saw them pip Portugal to the top spot, Denmark will have to be at their very best if they are to progress from the rightly dubbed ‘Group of Death’ at the 2012 edition of the UEFA European Championship. The Danish National Team pulled off arguably the biggest shock in the history of the competition when a Peter Schmeichel inspired side lifted the coveted trophy on home soil in 1992.
Twenty years on, a lot has changed in the world of football, yet, ironically, their goalkeeper at this summer’s tournament – Anders Lindegaard, just like Schmeichel, also wears the gloves at Old Trafford. Comparing Lindegaard to the ‘Great Dane’ may be inappropriate, but the pressure on the powerhouses in the group might just work to their advantage.
Morten Olsen, the tournament’s longest-serving coach was a former captain of the Danish National Team, with over 100 appearances for De Rod-Hvide. Having been at the helm for the past 11 years, the Danes now refer to their squad as the Olsen-Banden, which translates to ‘The Olsen Gang’. With a powerful partnership of Liverpool’s Daniel Agger and Roma’s Simon Kjaer in central defence to protect the custodian Lindegaard, and the veteran Christian Poulsen providing further protection from midfield, Olsen can be fairly optimistic that his side can pull off another shock by making it to the tournament’s last eight at the expense of one of the favourites.
Their main focus, however, is on the teenage sensation from Ajax – Christian Eriksen. Dubbed by many a pundit as the ‘Next Michael Laudrup’, the youngster is certainly living up to his billing with yet another terrific season in the Dutch Eredivise. His artistic brilliance combined with Nicklas Bendtner’s firepower upfront might just be enough to hurt teams on the counter. A repeat of the 1992 Championship may be impossible for the Danes, but with a wizard like Morten Olsen in charge, miracles and magic can’t be written off just yet.