Denmark united by joy of the game and the joy of life

Author : esmeraldacalhounnew
Publish Date : 2021-07-03 11:02:12
Denmark united by joy of the game and the joy of life

Denmark united by 'joy of the game and the joy of life'
Saturday 3 July 2021 reporter Sture Sandø reflects on Denmark's remarkable journey to the quarter-finals.

A moment's applause for Christian Eriksen took place ten minutes into Denmark's Matchday 2 game against Belgium
A moment's applause for Christian Eriksen took place ten minutes into Denmark's Matchday 2 game against Belgium
Getty Images
"Over the years, we have talked about how unique this group is and sometimes you can hear that too often. It can be a bit boring to hear how fantastic we think we are, but when things get rough, you can see how people react."

Those were the words of Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel on 14 June, just 36 hours after Christian Eriksen's medical emergency during the team's opening game against Finland.

Time stood still for those of us at the game in Copenhagen that day. The image of Eriksen's team-mates spontaneously forming a protective cordon around him while he received treatment will stay with me forever.

A message of support for Christian Eriksen 
A message of support for Christian Eriksen
POOL/AFP via Getty Images
Denmark were shocked but a team united, a country united. "I'm looking forward to starting training," said striker Martin Braithwaite. Schmeichel offered similar sentiments: "I think it will be nice to touch a ball again and get a sense of joy back." The team needed to get back to playing football.

"We're not only going to play for Christian," said coach Kasper Hjulmand ahead of the Matchday 2 game against Belgium. "We're going to play for who we are, our identity and the whole of Denmark who experienced what happened to us. We're not done with this tournament."

Those words now seem prophetic, but Hjulmand is no fortune teller. He is a coach who knows his team and what they are capable of. He managed to pull them together enough to put in a fine showing against the world's number-one-ranked side.

"I don't think I have experienced anything so emotional before," said Pierre-Emile Højbjerg after the 2-1 loss. "Never. It was as if everyone was united around this one thing. I've never seen or felt it. It's one thing to see, another to feel. Never felt it before."

The atmosphere did something to the team. The players touched the fans, and the fans moved the players. Jannik Vestergaard put it best.

"I have found the little boy inside me, the little boy from the playground, from when I was a child," he said. "The little boy and the joy of the game and the joy of life, in general, has come out in all of us, and I think you could see that."

Danish fans celebrate in Copenhagen
This was after two defeats, remember. And it showed that there was something afoot in the Denmark camp; they were fuelled by something different. Then came Matchday 3 against Russia.

When Andreas Christensen fired into the net from distance to put the hosts 3-1 ahead, the roof came off Parken Stadium. Denmark were through.

"It's the first time I've seen support like this," said Russia keeper Matvei Safonov after his side's eventual 4-1 loss. "One of their players would just complete a pass and the whole stadium was on its feet."

The celebrations continued in the round of 16 with a 4-0 defeat of Wales, and next up for Denmark is Saturday's quarter-final against the Czech Republic in Baku. For Joakim Mæhle, on target against both Wales and Russia, the team will approach that tie with precisely the same spirit of unity.

"We have discovered that there are more important things in life than football. We have agreed on that and stand together. Not just us as a team, but the whole of Denmark."

Wales 0-4 Denmark: Dominant Danes into quarter-finals
Saturday 26 June 2021

Goals from Kasper Dolberg, Joakim Mæhle and Martin Braithwaite propelled a commanding Denmark side into the EURO 2020 quarter-finals.

Martin Braithwaite struck Denmark's fourth goal
Martin Braithwaite struck Denmark's fourth goal
Getty Images
Denmark outclassed Wales with an impressive performance to reach their first EURO quarter-final in 17 years, as Kasper Dolberg became the first Danish player to score two goals in a EURO knockout game since 1992.

Match in brief
Kasper Dolberg celebrates his second of the day
Kasper Dolberg celebrates his second of the day
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Heavily involved in the early exchanges, Gareth Bale threatened during a positive start by Wales. The captain drilled wide twice in the space of a couple of minutes, before a clutch of white shirts rebuffed a close-range Aaron Ramsey volley.

However, the turning point came when Dolberg converted the Danes' first real chance before the half-hour, latching onto Mikkel Damsgaard’s defence-splitting ball to curl exquisitely inside Danny Ward’s left upright.

To nullify Welsh danger men Ramsey and Bale, Kasper Hjulmand’s side switched to a back four and consolidated their foothold in this last-16 tie.

As half-time loomed, Joakim Mæhle’s snapshot was repelled by Ward, but De Rød-Hvide were in control regardless – getting in behind and setting the tempo.

Dolberg duly pounced again shortly after the restart: Neco Williams’s panicked clearance fell kindly for the striker to take a touch and drive home his second of the evening in Amsterdam.

Joakim Mæhle hit Denmark's third goal
Joakim Mæhle hit Denmark's third goal
Getty Images
Wales continued to probe, but the Welsh counterattack proved no match for the unwavering Danish defensive block. To cap a super display, Mæhle cut inside and shot high into the net for Denmark's third, before Martin Braithwaite thumped home the stoppage-time fourth. Co-hosts Denmark, beaten in their first two games of this EURO, are the first team into the quarter-finals.

Star of the Match: Kasper Dolberg (Denmark)
"He scored two goals and was good with the ball."
Franz Hoek, UEFA Technical Observer

Check out every Heineken Star of the Match at UEFA EURO 2020.

Star of the Match: Dolberg reaction
Matthew Howarth, Wales reporter
Wales can have no complaints – Robert Page’s side faded after a bright start and lost to the better team. Regardless of the result, though, Page and his players can be proud of their efforts this summer. Many expected them to be knocked out in the group stage, but they showed tremendous character and resolve to reach the knockouts for the second EURO in succession. Considering this was only their third appearance at the finals of a major tournament, that is no mean feat.

Sture Sand‏ø, Denmark reporter
All in all, Denmark played the match they wanted to. Wales were the better side at the start, but from around 20 minutes in, Denmark took control and notched the first two goals. Being two down made it hard work for Wales, so the Danes didn’t suffer too much from injuries to Thomas Delaney, Simon Kjær and Jens Stryger. The two late strikes capped a well-deserved win for Denmark, who were ready to seize the opportunity. Baku awaits Hjulmand's heroes in the quarter-finals.

Danish fans celebrate in Copenhagen
Kasper Dolberg, Denmark forward: "It's completely crazy. I actually don't know how I feel. This is total madness. It's surreal. It was here [at the Johan Cruijff ArenA] where it all started for me, and to play here again in this setting was insane."

Kasper Hjulmand, Denmark coach: "It's hard to believe that this is reality. I admire the boys and the fact we can keep fighting. No matter who plays, they play very well. The guys are true warriors."

Gareth Bale, Wales captain: "It's not how we wanted the game to go. From our point of view we started very well, and then the game changed. We tried to play in the second half but made a mistake to concede, which killed the momentum on our side."

Joakim Mæhle, Denmark defender: "Look at the support we had in Amsterdam. It's completely nuts. The self-confidence and the courage we bring is something we must take even further. We're not worried who we're going to meet. We are focusing on ourselves and our qualities."

Joe Allen, Wales midfielder: "Our game plan was to really impose ourselves, give them problems and put them on the back foot. In fairness, early on, we did do that. They made some changes and swung the momentum in their favour, and obviously the goal changes everything."

Pierre-Emile Højbjerg celebrates
Pierre-Emile Højbjerg celebrates
Getty Images
Key stats
This is the fifth time that Denmark have scored three or more goals in a EURO finals match – they have now done it in successive games.
Wales have conceded more than one goal in only three of their last ten EURO final tournament matches.
Denmark have equalled their highest total of goals at a EURO finals – they also scored nine in 1984.
Wales have conceded the first goal in five of their last six EURO final tournament matches.
Kasper Dolberg is the first Dane to score two goals in a EURO knockout game since Henrik Larsen in the semi-final win over Netherlands in June 1992.
Denmark have won each of their last four competitive matches against Wales.
Denmark have lost just three of their last 16 international matches (W11 D2 L3).
Denmark have scored the first goal in each of their last six competitive fixtures against Wales.
Denmark have scored the first goal in 12 of their last 15 international games.
Denmark have scored two or more goals in nine of their last 12 international matches.
Denmark have only failed to score in two of their last ten EURO finals fixtures.
Denmark have scored a goal in the first half in six of their last seven EURO finals games.
Wales: Ward; C Roberts (N Williams 40), Mepham, Rodon, B Davies; Morrell (Wilson 60), Allen; Bale, Ramsey, James (Brooks 78); Moore (Roberts 78)

Denmark: Schmeichel; Christensen, Kjær (Andersen 77), Vestergaard; Stryger (Boilesen 77), Højbjerg, Delaney (Jensen 60), Mæhle; Damsgaard (Nørgaard 60), Dolberg (Cornelius 69), Braithwaite

Category : sports

Allyson Felix makes history with 10th career medal at the Tokyo Olympics

Allyson Felix makes history with 10th career medal at the Tokyo Olympics

- American sprinter Allyson Felix has made history in her last individual Olympic race. Felix took the bronze in the women’s 400-meter on Friday