Tough task ahead for Denmark at Euro Championship

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, June 8:

The Danes are hoping to avenge a disastrous showing at Euro 2000, in which they were knocked out after three losses in as many matches. Having won it all in 1992, they are no strangers to success at the highest level. However, Morten Olsen’s squad will face a tough task in Portugal if they wish to reclaim the title they won 12 years ago. They will face group that includes Italy, Sweden, and Bulgaria in the first round. The Danes qualified automatically for Euro 2004 as winners of Group 2, by far the closest of the ten qualifying groups. After all eight matches had been played, only two points separated Denmark and fourth-placed Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Following a 5-2 win in Romania, Olsen’s team followed it up with a horrific 2-0 home loss to Bosnia-Herzegovina. Against Scandinavian rivals Norway, Denmark recorded a draw and a 1-0 win in Oslo. Jon Dahl Tomasson led Denmark with five goals throughout qualifying, one-third of his team’s total for their eight games. Coach Olsen enjoys packing his midfield with attacking talent, leaving one striker at the front, usually Tomassson. Players like crafty veteran Dennis Rommedahl, Ebbe Sand, Jesper Grønkjær, and Claus Jensen all have the ability to create plays and attack the net in support of Tomasson. A strong defence was also key for Denmark in qualifying, as they allowed just five goals in the eight games played. Thomas Helveg is without a doubt the anchor of the rearguard protecting goalkeeper Thomas Sørensen.

Helveg can play anywhere on the back line and can also slide up into midfield if necessary. His right-back position is the best for Denmark with Martin Laursen, Niclas Jensen, and others contributing to the defensive effort. Yet, short of the coming of another Michel Laudrup, the quarter-final is about as much as Danish supporters can realistically hope for. An attacking midfield player in every respect, Martin Jørgensen combines industry with the ability to beat defenders, and he packs a powerful shot. Nicknamed ‘The Computer’ by his former coach Alberto Zaccheroni, he is a player with a superlative footballing brain who can slot into any number of tactical frameworks.

Jørgensen was graduated to the senior side in a 1-0 victory against Scotland in the lead up to the 1998 FIFA World Cup, where he played five games and made headlines with a goal against Brazil. Jørgensen played just 18 minutes at UEFA Euro 2000 and 107 minutes over three games at Korea/Japan. After missing the opening 2-2 draw in Norway, Jørgensen featured in Denmark’s remaining seven qualifiers. His campaign ended on a high as he opened the scoring in the final match away to Bosnia-Herzegovina which helped the Danes achieve the draw they needed to qualify automatically for Portugal. SQUAD: Goalkeepers — Thomas Sørensen, Peter Skov Jensen, Stephan Andersen; Defenders — Thomas Helveg, Brian Priske, Martin Laursen, Rene Henriksen, Niclas Jensen, Per Kroeldrup; Midfielders — Daniel Jensen, Morten Wieghorst, Thomas Gravesen, Claus Jensen, Christian Poulsen; Forwards — Ebbe Sand, Jon Dahl Tomasson, Peter Madsen, Martin Jørgensen, Jesper Grønkjaer, Dennis Rommedahl, Kenneth Perez.