Christian Eriksen: Denmark offer good Euro 2020 history with unlikely round of 16 qualification


On July 12, Danish midfielder Christian Eriksen talisman collapsed in the first half of his country’s Group B opener against Finland and suffered cardiac arrest.

His distraught teammates gathered around him during prolonged efforts by medical staff to resuscitate him with CPR and a defibrillator, with players from both teams, as well as supporters in the stadium, visibly in distress.

When the game surprisingly resumed later in the afternoon, Denmark fell to a 1-0 loss to Finland to shake their hopes of reaching the last 16 and any remaining chances of qualifying for the eighth. finals seemed to disappear with a 2-1 loss to Belgium.

However, a 4-1 hammering of Russia coupled with Finland’s 2-0 loss to Belgium in the final group game saw Denmark finish second in Group B.

No wonder the Danish team, supported by their boisterous supporters inside the Parken Stadium and across Denmark, were celebrating their team’s remarkable achievement.

Denmark have a history of upsetting the odds at the European Championships.

During Euro ’92, the Danish national team shocked the continent by winning a tournament for which they had not even qualified, but received a late invitation after the expulsion from Yugoslavia.

To this day, it remains the country’s greatest sporting achievement.

LILY: Christian Eriksen released from hospital after “successful operation”
Dane Joakim Maehle, right, celebrates after scoring his team's fourth goal against Russia.

Surprise packages

If Denmark’s progress to the round of 16 came as a shock given the challenges their team must overcome, Italy is another team that has surprised more than one at Euro 2020.

The Italian national team had been steadily declining since winning the World Cup in 2006, a slowdown that culminated with the team’s failure to qualify for the World Cup in 2018, the first time since 1958.

Known historically for their rugged, ridged defense, Italy’s 2021 version has been a joy to watch and perhaps the most exciting team in the tournament so far.

Head coach Roberto Mancini – who garnered as much attention for his suave matchday outfit (Giorgio Armani, of course) as his tactics – may not have completely ripped up the Italian textbook, relying on still on the defensive pillars Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini, but the likes of Leonardo Spinazzola and Manuel Locatelli have given this team an exciting offensive advantage.

Roberto Mancini lit up the Euro with his Giorgio Armani suit.

To further boost the national team’s hopes for Euro 2020, Marco Verratti’s return from injury has already provided Italy with another piece of equipment to step into.

The Paris Saint-Germain star put in a masterful performance against Wales, orchestrating the team from the midfield with his silky touch and precision passing.

Mancini made eight changes to his starting lineup for this final Group A game, but the system and team cohesion have remained exactly the same.

Few teams will enjoy the prospect of facing this Italian side, but Austria must do just that when the two teams meet at Wembley in the round of 16 on Saturday.

The Netherlands – in the same way, but perhaps not to the same extent as Italy – also emerged as an away bet to go all the way and win the Henri Delaunay Trophy.

Their fans certainly seem to think so.

Georginio Wijnaldum is in great shape for the Netherlands.

Following the 3-0 victory over North Macedonia, which secured the Netherlands a 100% group stage record, supporters of the Oranje had already started to sing that their team is champions of Euro 2020.

While they might be getting a bit ahead of the curve, it’s fair to say that the team’s performance has given them reason to be optimistic.

Although Frank de Boer’s side showed some defensive weaknesses, especially in the 3-2 win over Ukraine, the team’s performance improved as the tournament progressed.

In Georginio Wijnaldum, who is now the tournament’s top scorer after his brace against North Macedonia, the Netherlands have a midfield maestro playing at the peak of his ability, while marauder Denzel Dumfries is arguably the best. lateral back of the tournament. .

Up front, the duo of Memphis Depay and Donyell Malen look as deadly as any at Euro 2020 so far and it will take performance to stop them in the round of 16.

From black horse to failed horse

Turkey entered Euro 2020, touted by many as the tournament’s “dark horse”.

The squad have talented names, many of whom play for their club soccer in Europe’s most prestigious leagues, but none of that potential has been realized as the squad have fallen to three losses in three matches, scoring one goal and conceding eight.

Turkey may have one of the youngest teams in Euro 2020, but this inexperience alone cannot explain how the team crashed into the fifth worst performance in European Championship history. ‘Europe.

Mert Muldur looks dejected after the loss to Switzerland.

However, Turkey’s debacle at this tournament may well be a learning curve that this young team must mature before the World Cup which begins in Qatar next year.

The national team got off to a good start to qualifying for the World Cup, taking two wins and a draw from their opening three matches to lead the group to the Netherlands, a side they beat in the first round.

Head coach Senol Gunes has admitted his side “weren’t good enough” during Euro 2020 and it is likely that the country’s poor performance will have led many Turkish fans to want a new name in charge.

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