The last and only time Denmark won the European Cup, Kasper Schmeichel was five years old, and his father was the one in goal for the Danes. Twenty-nine years after that historic triumph, the Danish team aims for another shocking run and why not? Victory against all odds has always been their style. The Euro 2020 automatic qualifying round is done, and Denmark finished second in Group D, a point off toppers Switzerland. However, the Danes dropped only seven points and looked like what a betting man would definitely call an outsider.
They simply do not lose very often and you’ll have to go back a couple of years to find a Danish loss that didn’t take place in extra time or a penalty shootout, including the last World Cup.
Locked in with Switzerland, the Republic of Ireland, and Georgia, the Danes did well and are currently enjoying a perfect start to 2020 with three big wins against Israel, Moldova, and Austria. All three wins were by at least two goals, including an 8-0 hammering of Moldova, and keeping clean sheets in all three. That is the form of Kasper Hjulmand men as they prepare for the Euro 2020 and World Cup. Currently considered at 33/1 to win the Euro, we take a look at why Denmark makes the perfect dark horse for this year's competition and how the team is in pole positioned to upset the big favorites under the right circumstances.
Denmark has always had the blessing of having a really balanced squad with notable world-class names in every division of the pitch, and this time it is no different. Kasper Schmeichel is a world-class goalkeeper who has stepped out of his father's shadow to prove his mettle in the English Premier League. He has logged the most minutes played by any player this season in the Premier League and has 11 clean sheets in 36- games, good enough for second in the league amongst goalkeepers. A pillar of consistency, Schmeichel will be one of the most important pieces for the Danes this year, just like he once again proved to be for Leicester whom he's now both won the Premier League and the FA cup with.
Helping out in defence, Simon Kjaer, and Andreas Christensen have the right blend of experience and solidity to sure up the backline. Should any of them get hurt, both Jannik Vestergaard and Joachim Andersen are able to step in. In their current round of qualifiers for the World Cup, the Danes are on three clean sheets, with goalkeepers having to make only four saves in 270 minutes. As a whole, the team has conceded only three yellow cards in that time. Consistency, solidity, and discipline have been the team's defensive identity, and it is working wonders.
The current iteration of the Danish team has been playing together for more than three years, enough time to build team chemistry and understanding that is very vital to success. The players also play in similar leagues across Europe, plying their trade in the top European leagues, meaning they get to face most of the competition and have them as teammates. This will be key in deploying tactics and having a smooth flow to their game during the competition. That chemistry is evident in the recent run of games for the Danes, who have been showing an excellent feel for one another when you look at how seamless their attack and defence work.
Christian Eriksen is a world-class midfielder who can unlock any defence, while Kjaer and Christensen have the experience and skill to be lockdown defenders. Delaney is now a staple at Dortmund and shows he can be a great anchor in the middle alongside Pierre Emile-Hojberg who’s been one of the top defensive midfielders in the Premier League throughout the season. Martin Braithwaite's presence will also be a plus as he makes plenty of deep runs to create space for the rest of his team. This kind of players, leading the locker room with young talents such as Skov Olsen and Mikkel Damsgaard in tow, will be a big advantage for Denmark. They have hungry fresh youths and world-class leaders. What more can a team ask for?
Denmark has home field advantage in the group stage and starts of against Finland on June 12th, then plays Belgium the 17th and Russia on the 21st of June.
If I was a betting man, I am looking at Denmark, ranked tenth in the FIFA rankings and thinking nobody will want to face them, especially if they dig themselves out of the group stages. Like Portugal, they may just have us all underestimating the strength of team cohesion. At 33/1 found on our partner site Bet365, it makes sense to bet on them as a good backup, a small price to be paid for a huge reward that is realistically possible.
Denmark to win: Around 30/1 depending on your chosen bookmaker.
Denmark to reach the semi finals: 6/1