Football: Morten Olsen succinctly summed up the daunting task Denmark face at Euro 2012 when he recalled the exploits of his side’s Group B rivals.
“In our group we have Robin van Persie, the top scorer in the English Premier League, Mario Gomez, top scorer in the Bundesliga, and Cristiano Ronaldo, top scorer along with Lionel Messi in the Spanish league,” explained the man who has managed the Danish national team for the last 12 years.
In fact, Holland’s Klaas-Jan Huntelaar actually finished atop the Bundesliga charts — but Olsen’s men could also come up against him when their Euro 2012 campaign gets under way against the Oranje on June 9 in Kharkiv.
Given the quality of the other three sides in Group B it’s hard to make a case for the Danes, which is a shame because had they been drawn in another group they would undoubtedly have a strong chance of making the knockout stages.
They are, after all, ranked in the world’s top 10 and have a solid squad with some impressive young talents, most notably Ajax playmaker Christian Eriksen, who is the team’s focal point.
Fans of the Premier League will know Nicklas Bendtner but may be more surprised that the boastful forward actually lives up to some of his blather at international level.
He is ably supported in attack by the evergreen Dennis Rommedahl and Michael Krohn-Dehli.
But against the likes of German, Holland and Portugal, is it possible to make a case for Denmark progressing?
Yes, but it will probably require their Group B rivals to take them for granted.
If that happens, then Olsen’s side have the ability to seize on any complacency shown by Holland, Germany or Portugal.
They will be buoyed, too, by the fact that they bested Portugal in qualifying to finish first in their group while their defence, of which Liverpool’s Daniel Agger is the lynchpin, only conceded six goals in eight
With such a tough group they will hope to catch the Dutch cold in their opener.
Maybe Arjen Robben is still smarting after he fluffed his lines in the Champions League final for Bayern Munich?
Maybe Robin van Persie has burnt out after giving his all for Arsenal last season?
And perhaps Wesley Sneijder just won’t be the player who lit up the World Cup two years ago?
It all sounds like clutching at straws.
Yet no-one expected Denmark to do anything in the Euros in 1992 when they entered as a late substitute for Yugoslavia, and look what happened then.
Final position: First-round exit.
Star player: Christian Eriksen. The Ajax man is on the radar of some of the Europe’s biggest clubs.
Wildcard: Tobias Mikkelsen. Tricky winger who made his debut last year.Coach Olsen has high hopes for him.
If you appreciated this article then please consider donating to the Morning Star's Fighting Fund to ensure we can keep developing your paper.