Denmark 2011 – Day Three Preview: Now or never for Denmark and Iceland

After a scintillating opening round of the 2011 European Championships in Denmark, the second round in Group A could be just as exciting as all four sides fight to either stay in the competition or progress to the next round.

Host nation Denmark, who were beaten by Switzerland 1-0 on opening night, face Belarus, who shocked Iceland to win 2-0 in their first game. Denmark had the better of the Swiss possession-wise and created triple the amount of chances Switzerland did, but Keld Bordinggaard’s side were beaten by a moment of class from Swiss playmaker Xherdan Shaqiri. In contrast, Belarus were dominated by Iceland in their match and came out with the win after Iceland failed to convert their chances.

If Belarus pick up a victory on Tuesday in Aarhus, they will qualify from the group and are in prime position to qualify top of the group A table. Georgi Kondratyev’s side defeated Iceland thanks to a Andrei Voronkov penalty and a late Maksim Skavysh strike, but Belarus were lucky to take the win away from the game and did not show enough to indicate that they can trouble Denmark in their next fixture. Denmark should be expected to get their tournament back on track with a victory and will be encouraged that three of the last five winners of the championship have lost their opening game.

The other game of Group A sees Switzerland face off against Iceland in Aalborg. The Swiss will be looking to qualify to the next stage with a win over Iceland and will look to the inspirational figure of playmaker Xherdan Shaqiri, who provided the difference in the first game win over Denmark. His goal was absolutely sublime against the Danes and he has already staked a claim to be one of the players of the tournament. Switzerland manager Pierlugi Tami will look to goalkeeper Yann Sommer once again with the player having a wonderful game against Denmark, making save after save as the Danes pushed for an equaliser.

Tami said about his goalkeeper in a bizarre metaphor: “Having a goalkeeper like Yann Sommer defending your goal is like having a jacket in winter”. Tami was trying to state that the goalkeeper is that extra layer of protection and safety for the Swiss side, but his eccentric comment seemed to baffle some of the journalists at the press conference in Aalborg.

Iceland had a difficult opening game against Switzerland. Eyjolfur Sverrisson’s side dominated for long periods of the match and created a whole host of chances, most of them spurned by centre-forward Kolbeinn Sigthursson. Iceland also lost midfielder Aron Gunnarsson, who plays in the Championship with Coventry City, after his professional foul that gave Belarus their penalty and subsequent opening goal. This tournament is Iceland’s first ever international tournament and they will be looking to pick up a victory to make the group more interesting. A defeat for Sverrisson’s side, who scored the most goals in qualifying, will end their chances of progressing to the next round.

Day Three of the tournament looks to be exciting and Group A’s winners and losers could be decided by the end of Wednesday, as the four sides look to show more class and quality from their opening night performances. Expect desire, class and determination to shine through as all sides attempt to keep their semi-final dreams alive.

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