The Seleção under new coach Fernando Santos showed some encouraging signs in the weekend friendly against France. Portugal will be looking to carry that form into the crucial Euro 2016 qualifying match against Denmark in Copenhagen tomorrow.

PortuGOAL has enlisted the help of Dutch journalists Thomas Pyndt from Danish Football Weekly Tipsbladet and Claus Røndbjerg-Christensen from Danish Football News for the lowdown on the Scandinavian outfit.

 

 

PortuGOAL: Denmark failed to qualify for the World Cup and have begun Euro 2016 qualification with a narrow victory against Armenia and a draw against Albania. How do you rate the current Danish team?

After not making the World Cup in Brazil, because they ended up as the worst number two in the UEFA-qualification groups and therefore didn’t get to play in the playoff-games, it is a team that is very hungry and determined to make the Euro 2016 in France. The spine of the team is still the same (Daniel Agger, William Kvist, Christian Eriksen and Nicklas Bendtner) but a couple of new players have cracked the starting 11 (goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel and the young Bayern Munich-midfielder Pierre Emile Hoejbjerg). It is not as good a team as the historic best from Euro 84 and World Cup 86, but there is a lot of potential and it should be strong enough to finish among the best three teams in the group – and hopefully in the top two.

 

PortuGOAL: Ones to watch - who are Denmark’s star players?

The best known players are of course Bendtner, Eriksen and Agger, and they are also considered the star players, but Kasper Schmeichel has shown great skill in goal and also has a high profile now that he has been promoted to the Premier League with Leicester. He is an excellent shot-stopper and also a very brave goalkeeper like his father Peter was.

 

PortuGOAL: Strong points/weak points. What must Portugal beware of and what can they exploit?

I believe that the strongest point is the fact that the national coach Morten Olsen is not only an excellent coach, but he has also been in charge of the national team since 2000, so he has immense experience and each player knows exactly what is wanted from him in the tactical set-up.

The weak point would probably be the goalscoring. Nicklas Bendtner has had a couple of frustrating seasons in Juventus and Arsenal but is getting plenty of minutes in Wolfsburg now, so hopefully he will be able to solve the problem and show more than glimpses of quality as he did in Albania, where he broke his nose early on, didn't do much in eighty minutes and then created the situation that ended up with a late goal by substitute Lasse Vibe and a 1-1 draw.


PortuGOAL: Formation and playing style – what system do Denmark usually play? Would you describe them generically as an attacking or a defensive team?

Denmark has always played 4-3-3 under Morten Olsen with attacking fullbacks and often a creative number 10 (Christian Eriksen). It is definitely an attacking team, but also a clever team that won't go all out with the attacking but also takes the opponent into consideration.

 

PortuGOAL: Denmark has met Portugal several times in recent qualifying campaigns (2010 WC, 2012 EC) and got the better of them in the group, although Portugal won when the two sides met in the 2012 EC itself. What was the reaction when Denmark were drawn in the same group as Portugal again?

Since things went well in the World Cup 2010 and Euro 2012 qualification, drawing Portugal was met with a degree of optimism, and of course excitement too considering one of the best players in the world will visit Copenhagen again.

 

PortuGOAL: Mood in the camp – judging by player/coach quotes regarding this game, do you think Denmark come into the game in a confident frame of mind?

Yes, I think they are quite confident because they have played Portugal before and have obtained the required result in a few of the games. And they are also looking forward to a game against an opponent that will do more than just focus on defending.


PortuGOAL: What do you think the result of the game will be?

It is a very open game that can go both ways or end up in a tie, which I think is quite possible. I’ll go for 1-1.

 

Our thanks to Thomas Plyndt from Tipsbladet (www.tipsbladet.dk) for answering our questions.

 


 

Claus Røndbjerg-Christensen is another Danish football journalist, who runs the Twitter account @danishfooty.

PortuGOAL: Denmark failed to qualify for the World Cup and began Euro 2016 qualification with a narrow victory over Armenia and draw against Albania. How do you rate the current Danish team?

The mood is quite good at the moment. The team got the result against Armenia last time, and with emerging players such as Højbjerg (Bayern) and Eriksen (Tottenham) the core of the Danish team seems strong. It is also great to see striker Nicklas Bendtner has found a new club. Hopefully he’ll start scoring goals soon.

 

PortuGOAL: Ones to watch - who are Denmark’s star players?

It would seem to be easy to say Eriksen. But it is him everything goes through. He IS the playmaker. Without him the Danish national team would be crippled. Lars Jacobsen (Guingamp) is another. Him and Cristiano Ronaldo have had so many encounters now and he needs to step up to stop the Ballon d’Or winner.

 

PortuGOAL: Strong points/weak points. What must Portugal beware of and what can they exploit?

The defence has been giving away too many easy chances lately due to sloppy defending. And with a Ronaldo in your side, they’ll need to be on their toes, because he is perhaps the best in the world right now at scoring goals.

The team’s strong point is the unity of the way Denmark plays. Denmark has now played the same system (4-2-3-1) for over 10 years, which goes for the U15, U16, U17, U19,  and U21, as well as the senior team. It is also a weakness though, given that there is no proper plan B.

 

PortuGOAL: Formation and playing style – what system do Denmark usually play? Would you describe them generically as an attacking or a defensive team?

See above. Denmark is an attacking team. No doubt.

 

PortuGOAL: Denmark has met Portugal several times in recent qualifying campaigns (2010 WC, 2012 EC) and got the better of them in the group, although Portugal won when the two sides met in the 2012 EC itself. What was the reaction when Denmark were drawn in the same group as Portugal again?

Funny you should ask this question. This is actually the angle most newspapers use. Denmark-Portugal is slowly turning into a natural rivalry. Lars Jacobsen says it all really by stating: “We have started to use first names when we meet. I’ve played Ronaldo so many times that he calls me ‘Lars’!” 

 

PortuGOAL: What are the Danish press saying specifically about this match? Who are considered favourites?

The Danish press is pretty optimistic. Calling it fifty-fifty. No major injuries for the Danish side and a decent start in the group with victory versus Armenia and a draw in Albania.

 

PortuGOAL: Mood in the camp – judging by player/coach quotes regarding this game, do you think Denmark come into the game in a confident frame of mind?

Morten Olsen is always an optimist. A sold-out Parken will also help as always. He said after the Albania game: “A draw is an OK result for us. The Portugal game will be different as both teams will attack.” This is a clear indication that he thought Albania were too defensive for his team’s liking, even on home soil. 

 

PortuGOAL: What do you think the result of the game will be?

A Draw. Everybody can use this result. 1-1 most likely, I believe.

 

This is how Claus expects Denmark to line up tomorrow:

Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester City), Lars Jacobsen (Guingamp), Simon Kjær (LOSC Lille), Daniel Agger (Brøndby), Nicolai Boilesen (Ajax), William Kvist (Wigan), Pierre-Emile Højbjerg (Bayern Munich), Lasse Schøne (Ajax), Christian Eriksen (Tottenham Hotspur), Michael Krohn-Dehli (Celta de Vigo), Nicklas Bendtner (Wolfsburg)

 

Our thanks to Claus Røndbjerg-Christensen (Twitter account @danishfooty).

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  • Guest - Silva

    Portugal will win 3-1 viva Portugal forca Ronaldo

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  • Guest - torpiano

    The only thing you can guarantee in this game is that Nicklas Bendtner will score against us AGAIN. Hopefully not of course, but it is amazing how such an average striker has tormented us so many times in recent years. I guess we just can't handle his physicality, and that has to change tonight.

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