Having hammered Wales 4-0 to set up a Euro 2020 quarter-final against the Czech Republic on Saturday, Denmark have rediscovered their hunger and are starting to believe they can secure the trophy they won in spectacular fashion in 1992.
????? Denmark are unbeaten in their last 6 matches against Czech Republic (W1, D5)
— UEFA EURO 2020 (@EURO2020) July 3, 2021
The Danes got off to a disastrous start, losing playmaker Christian Eriksen to a cardiac arrest in their opening loss to Finland, but they have bounced back and are riding a wave of positive energy into the clash with the Czechs.
“We are not done yet and we are going to attack with the same attitude and hunger – the gold is far away right now, but the hunger is great,” team captain Simon Kjaer told a news conference on Friday.
Goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, whose father Peter kept goal for the 1992 team, said motivations abounded.
“The things we dreamed of as kids, and everything we’ve been through as a team. The love for the national team has grown bigger and bigger,” he said.
“We built momentum under (previous coach) Age (Hareide), we could not imagine how crazy it would be. We want to continue to make the country and the families proud. This is not going to stop – tomorrow, we go to war.”
Coach Kasper Hjulmand, who told Reuters ahead of the tournament how the victorious 1992 side inspires them, said his team were going out to win for all of Denmark.
“We have two dreams – we want to win something and help inspire and excite. We can feel the energy from all over Denmark, from young and old,” he told reporters.
“It provides motivation and we have a huge inner hunger. That’s how the whole team is. And we know it’s about winning it all – we have always said that.”
Schmeichel said he had not made any special preparations to deal with Czech striker Patrik Schick, who has netted three goals so far at Euro 2020, including a lob from almost halfway against Scotland.
“I have not analysed Schick. I prepare in the same way no matter who I play against. I watch football and know what the teams can do, but it does not matter who hits the ball, because if they hit it right, it can go in,” he said.
Czech Republic expect a tight match against Denmark which can be decided by one small mistake when they meet, coach Jaroslav Silhavy said on Friday.
The Czechs are embracing their underdog status, according to team captain Vladimir Darida, who will be back from injury. But they are aiming to take advantage of their first quarter-final appearance since 2012.
Darida’s return – along with left-back Jan Boril coming back after a suspension – leaves coach Silhavy with tough choices on whether to tweak a squad that looked crisp in stunning favoured Netherlands 2-0 in their last-16 match.
“It’s not simple but I believe we will make the right choice,” Silhavy said about the lineup on Friday, adding he was still undecided and would weigh things after a final training session.
The Czechs are facing a fired-up Denmark team, scoring four or more goals in consecutive matches – the first time that has happened in European Championship history.
The Danes have ridden a wave of emotion and support into the quarter-finals since Christian Eriksen suffered a cardiac arrest in their opening match.
“One small mistake can decide the match flow in a moment,” Silhavy said. “They have many good players in their team that can decide a match, but I believe we will be able to take advantage of any of their mistakes.
“I think it will be a very even match, and competitive, and the little things will be decisive.”
The Czechs advanced last Sunday with a pair of second-half goals, the first from defender Tomas Holes before he then set up Patrik Schick for the second.
Schick has notched four goals in Euro 2020, behind Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo on five. He is one short of the Czech record for top scorer in a tournament.
He is one short of the Czech record for top scorer in a tournament, held by Milan Baros in Euro 2004 where the Czechs beat Denmark 3-0 in the quarter-finals before losing to eventual winners Greece in the last four.
Darida and Silhavy avoided drawing any parallels with this year’s campaign, though with the game being played in Baku they will be without a strong turnout of their fans who came to the Netherlands game in Budapest.
“We’re sorry the atmosphere will not be like in the last game but there is nothing much we can do about that,” Darida said. “We need to be ready and we need to fully concentrate on this game.”
The winners of Saturday’s match will meet either England or Ukraine in the semi-final at Wembley on Wednesday.
— UEFA EURO 2020 (@EURO2020) July 2, 2021