Camp Focus - Denmark – The weight of a nation rests on the incredibly young shoulders of Denmark
When a documentary entitled ‘The Chosen Ones’ is shown to a nation before the start of an under 21 European Championship campaign, there is a high amount of pressure on that team. When a fifth of the population watches a group game against Belarus, it is evident that Denmark has the support of their home nation crowd.
Whether the Danes can produce the results is a different story. The performances have been there and the creation of chances has resulted in three points out of six possible. It could have been so much more. If Denmark had converted against Switzerland in the opening match of group A, they would be on six points and in a comfortable position to afford a draw out of the last game against Iceland in Aalborg on Saturday night.
The pressure that Keld Bordinggaard’s side face is enormous, but Danish left back Nicolai Boilesen believes that the pressure from their home fans can provide momentum for them to push on to the semi-finals. 19 year old Boilesen said: ‘We’ve been under a bit of pressure since the first game against Switzerland. I really think we have the momentum to win, but we cannot underestimate them (Belarus), because they’re very good as well, and if we don’t win, then it’s over.’
Denmark’s lack of qualification mean that instead of the rigorous process teams have faced to get to the competition, Bordinggaard’s side have spent two years playing friendlies in preparation for the tournament. The Danes themselves realise that they got off to a slow start in the opening of the tournament, but are confident in their abilities to pass the final game test with flying colours.
The plaudits have been with Bayer Leverkusen winger Nicolai Jorgensen, following his impressive performance in the 2-1 victory over Belarus on Tuesday evening. Jorgensen won the penalty that Christian Eriksen scored for the first goal and then scored the winner 19 minutes from time with a superb individual effort. All the expectation was held on playmaker Eriksen before the tournament began, but his performances have yet to reach the pinnacles that everyone had predicted. The rest of the Denmark side have equipped themselves well with Jorgensen, central defender Mathias Jorgensen, and striker Nickie Billie Nielsen standing out as the shining lights for the Danes.
Manager Keld Bordinggaard is looking to pick up the three points needed to ensure qualification to the semi-finals of the competition. The last time Denmark’s under 21 side got to the semi-finals was back in 1992 and Bordinggaard will be looking to emulate, if not succeed, the achievements of that Denmark side 19 years ago. The weight of a nation is bearing down on the young shoulders of the Denmark players, but the experienced first team internationals that the side holds should be enough to see them through against an Iceland side that have not picked up a single point in the tournament.