Denmark are without a point in a Euro 2020 campaign dominated by Christian Eriksen’s cardiac arrest, but they hope fans will rouse them for Monday’s last-chance game against Russia.
“It’s like our Euros are starting right now,” coach Kasper Hjulmand said on Sunday ahead of the game at Parken Stadium in Copenhagen where fans have stayed passionately behind the team during narrow defeats to Finland and Belgium.
“We have a knock-out game ahead of us and only if we win we will have the chance to move further in the tournament,” the 49-year-old manager told a news conference.
“We respect Russia, it’s going to be a tough game and we need the support we had last time (against Belgium).”
Danish fans were left stunned and emotional after midfielder Eriksen’s collapse in the opener, with the players looking shell-shocked when play resumed and Finland scored to win 1-0.
An outpouring of support from the stadium propelled the Danes to an early lead and stirring performance against top-ranked Belgium in the next game, but despite scoring an early goal they also lost that game 2-1.
“For us, to sit here with zero points still is also painful, so it is a massive opportunity for us,” said goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.
With a normal capacity of just over 38,000, the stadium held 16,000 for the opener and 25,000 against Belgium, and on Monday another 25,000 will be present for Denmark‘s last roll of the dice.
Belgium top Group B on six points with the Danes bottom on zero and needing to beat Russia to have any chance of advancing to the knockout stage. Finland, who like Russia have three points, take on Belgium in St. Petersburg at the same time to decide the outcome of the group.
Hailed as a hero for his quick action and leadership after Eriksen collapsed, Denmark captain Simon Kjaer said the team deserved success.
“We go into the game with the mentality that we have to get there (to the knockout stage), and after everything we’ve been through I think we deserve it,” the central defender said.
“You can be sure that everything will be left out on the pitch tomorrow – with the support and the quality that this team has, I’m confident about the match.”
Russia, who have not reached the knockout stage of a European championship since 2008, need either a win against Denmark to get into the last 16 or a draw if Finland fail to beat Belgium in the other Group B match on Monday.
“We think that this will be a difficult match,” Cherchesov told a news conference, highlighting Denmark‘s explosive play and Yussuf Poulsen’s early goal in the Danes’ 2-1 loss to Belgium, the world’s highest-ranked side.
Russia are preparing for a tough match against a Danish team determined to reach the knockout stages of the European championship, Russian manager Stanislav Cherchesov said on Sunday, a day before their final Group B game in Copenhagen.
Russia, who have not reached the latter stages of the European championship since 2008, need either a win against Denmark to get into the last 16 or a draw if Finland fail to beat Belgium in the other Group B match on Monday.
“We think that this will be a difficult match,” Cherchesov told a news conference, highlighting Denmark’s explosive play and Yussuf Poulsen’s early goal in their 2-1 loss to Belgium, the world’s top-ranked side.
Danish manager Kasper Hjulmand has pledged that Denmark, who will benefit from home advantage, will beat Russia in honour of Christian Eriksen, who collapsed after suffering a heart attack during their opening game against Finland.
To grab the second qualifying spot, Denmark must beat Russia by two or more goals and rely on Belgium, who have reached the last 16, to beat Finland.
AS Monaco midfielder Alexander Golovin, one of the few Russians who plays in a top European league, said Russia would be facing difficult opponents.
“They are a very powerful team and play at a high tempo,” Golovin said. “Even the Belgians had trouble with them the first half… They cannot be underestimated.”
Cherchesov would not disclose whether midfielder Mario Fernandes, who was cleared of a spinal injury after a heavy fall in Russia’s 1-0 win over Finland, would be fit to play.
He also declined to say who would start in goal after turning to 22-year-old Matvei Safonov against Finland after a sub-par performance by Anton Shunin against Belgium.
Cherchesov is not happy that Denmark is not allowing Russian fans into the country due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.
“We regret that our fans won’t be able to be at the stadium,” he said. “In one sense it’s unfair. But the situation in the world is complex. The situation here in Denmark doesn’t permit them to come and there is nothing we can do about that.”