Great Danes

Associated Press

Lisbon, June 19:

Danish newspapers showered praise on their team on Saturday as Denmark gears up to play archrival Sweden after beating Bulgaria 2-0 at Euro 2004. After an opening 0-0 tie against Italy and Friday goals by Jon Dahl Tomasson and Jesper Groenkjaer against Bulgaria, the Danes’ confidence should be at a peak before meeting their Swedish neighbours on Tuesday.

Sweden and Denmark are tied with four points at the top of Group C. The Swedes drew 1-1 against Italy on Friday.

The 1992 European champions need a win over Sweden to guarantee a place in the quarter-finals, and “the Danish camp is bobbling with optimism,” the Jyllands-Posten newspaper wrote. “Poor Sweden. On Tuesday, Groenkjaer will be in a great shape,” the Ekstra Bladet said in a headline, a nod to the striker who missed game against Italy because of his mother’s death. Newspapers said the Danish squad should have won by a bigger score over Bulgaria. Columnist Allan Pedersen said in Ekstra Bladet that the Bulgarians “had so little to offer, that they should not have been let in” the tournament.

Rasmus Bech, a veteran commentator with the Politiken newspaper, said that while the Swedes had the strongest team up to the 1980s, the Danes have since dominated Scandinavian soccer. The last time the two sides met in a Euro championship was in Sweden in 1992 when the Scandinavian nations played in the first round. Sweden beat Denmark 1-0 but the Danes won the tournament.