European Under-21 Championship Fact File – Denmark

Hosts Denmark did not have to go through the qualification process and this fact may come back to haunt them. The Danish Under-21s have struggled in their pre-tournament preparation so far and their lack of playing time in competitive games has certainly led to problems with the team blending together. Combine this with two high profile withdrawals and the hosts’ preparation is looking less than ideal. Denmark’s recent winless run includes their loss to fellow finalists Spain 2-1, Ukraine 2-2 and England 4-0 in friendly matches.

However, with the big boost of home support and the quality of star man Christian Eriksen many fans will not have lost hope yet. The stratospheric development of Eriksen, which continued recently with his first senior goal against Scandinavian rivals Iceland, has been punctuated with high praise from some real heavyweights of world football, including the great Johan Cruyff, and many will be pinning their hopes of glory on this precarious midfield talent. Denmark will also be boosted by their final group, avoiding the typical heavyweights of Spain and England. Their recent poor defensive record will be the main concern coming into the tournament though, an issue that must be resolved if they are to have any hope of glory.

Denmark do not have an illustrious history at this level, failing to qualify for a major tournament on more occasions than they have succeeded. Their best ever performance came back in 1992 when they made the semi-finals, going out to the eventual winners Italy over two legs.

Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner was set to appear in the Denmark squad before suddenly following Arsenal team-mate Jack Wilshere’s lead and withdrawing from the tournament, citing his desire to spend more time with his family to the frustration of the host nation’s fans. Highly rated Wolfsburg centre-back Simon Kjaer was also selected in the preliminary squad for the tournament but did not make the final squad. “Simon Kj

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