High-scoring Denmark are hoping to continue their marvellous revival in UEFA Euro 2020 as they face the Czech Republic in the quarter-final on Saturday.
After registering the first real upset of UEFA Euro 2020, in a Round of 16 win against the Netherlands, the Czech Republic will be dealt with yet another challenging test as they face Denmark in the quarter-final. The match will be hosted at Baku Olympic stadium in Azerbaijan, one of the last remaining stadiums before the tournament exclusively shifts to Wembley in London.
Denmark have had a roller-coaster campaign in Euro 2020 so far. Their tournament started with Christian Eriksen’s tragic collapse and back-to-back defeats to Finland and Belgium. However, an inspiring 4-0 victory over Russia saw them clinch second place in Group B out of nowhere.
The Danish dynamites were also the most dominating team in the Round of 16, comfortably beating Wales 4-0 at the Amsterdam ArenA. It was a convincing display that now opens up an excellent opportunity for Kasper Hjulmand’s men to seal a historic place in the semi-final of the European Championship.
The Czech Republic are not an opposition to be taken lightly, though, having beaten the Netherlands in the Round of 16. One may argue that they got a bit lucky with the dismissal of Matthijs de Ligt, but a tireless all-round performance meant they were the clear victors in Hungary.
Jaroslav Silhavy’s men only progressed to the knockout stages as one of the four best third-placed teams in the competition. But their performance in the last round suggests they are capable of advancing further than the quarter-finals. And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of their fascinating match-up in Baku this weekend.
Team News & Tactics
One of the most distinguishable features in Denmark’s game heading into this quarter-final is their free-scoring form. They have scored four goals in each of their last two matches, also ranking highest in the competition in terms of shots on goal and shots on target.
The absence of a playmaker like Christian Eriksen appears to have made no impact on the Danes’ chance creation. The 3-4-3 formation, in particular, has given them much more flexibility up top, with the wing-backs in Daniel Wass and Joakim Maehle offering the width out wide.
It has allowed the wide attackers to drift infield and support the central striker. Hjulmand, though, has some big decisions to make as Yussuf Poulsen is now back in contention after enduring fitness issues.
The RB Leipzig star may have to settle for a place on the bench in favour of Kasper Dolberg. The former Ajax forward’s brace against Wales was one of the highlights of the last round. It makes him the favourite to spearhead the Dane attack alongside Martin Braithwaite and Mikkel Damsgaard, another standout for Denmark over the past couple of matches.
In midfield, the double-pivot of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Thomas Delaney has worked quite efficiently as well. Delaney is walking on a tightrope, though, as he is just one booking away from missing the next matches. It might force Hjulmand to consider his other options in midfield, including Brentford duo Christian Norgaard and Mathias Jensen.
Defensively, Denmark have no reason to tinker with the back three of Andreas Christensen, Jannik Vestergaard and captain Simon Kjaer. The trio offers an ideal balance of technicality, aerial prowess and leadership, giving goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel top-class coverage in between the sticks.
Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Schmeichel; Christensen, Kjaer, Vestergaard; Wass, Hojbjerg, Delaney, Maehle; Braithwaite, Dolberg, Damsgaard
The Czech Republic produced a stellar defensive display in their win over the Netherlands. The resilient back-four has done extremely well so far under the leadership of Silhavy, who will be boosted by the return of Jan Boril.
The Slavia Prague star should slot right back into the left-back position at the expense of Pavel Kaderabek. He is once again set to accompany Ondrej Celustka, Tomas Kalas and Vladimir Coufal in the Czech backline.
Silhavy’s men largely fared well up against the pressure of the Dutch wing-backs. He is expected to face a similar threat against a Denmark side that has Wass and Maehle, whose presence out wide is sure to restrict Coufal’s desire to make marauding runs forward.
The Czech Republic, therefore, might appear heavily reliant on the services of wide players in Lukas Masopust and Petr Sevcik in terms of creativity. Antonin Barak, too, should play a crucial role, especially when it comes to set-pieces.
Indeed, Denmark need to be careful of the opposition’s proficiency from set-pieces, with players like Tomas Soucek, Tomas Kalas and Tomas Holes ready to attack the box. Barak himself is excellent when it comes to delivering balls into the danger area, having starred in the win over the Netherlands.
Speaking of Soucek and Holes, these two remain crucial in Czechia’s second line of press. They are primarily known for their work rate and aggression, both of which could be critical as they lock horns with the equally hard-working midfielders in Hojbjerg and Delaney.
Vladimir Darida is another midfield option Silhavy could call upon, along with Alex Kral, who is far more defensive-minded. As for the attack, the likes of Jakub Jankto and Adam Hlozek are excellent players who can provide the extra injection of pace and energy out wide, while Michael Krmencik is a direct replacement for Patrik Schick, the leader of the Czech Republic frontline.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Vaclik; Coufal, Celustka, Kalas, Boril; Holes, Soucek; Masopust, Barak, Sevcik; Schick
Czech Republic: WLDWW
- This is the third meeting between the Czech Republic and Denmark at the European Championship – the Czechs have won both previous games (2-0 in the Euro 2000 group stages and 3-0 in the Euro 2004 group quarter-final).
- Five of the last six matches between these two sides have ended as draws, including their most recent encounter in November 2016. The other game in this run was a 3-0 Denmark win in a March 2013 World Cup qualifier.
- With a 4-1 victory against Russia and a 4-0 victory against Wales, Denmark became the first team in European Championship history to score 4+ goals in consecutive games in the competition. They have nine goals so far at Euro 2020, only scoring more in a major tournament in the 1986 FIFA World Cup (10).
- This is the Czech Republic’s fourth European Championship quarter-final, progressing from two of the previous three (1996 vs Portugal, 2004 vs Denmark) but failing the last time they reached this stage in 2012, losing 1-0 to Portugal.
- Denmark are averaging 18.8 shots and 7.3 shots on target per game so far at Euro 2020. Both are their highest numbers on record at a single edition at a major tournament (since 1966 – World Cup and EURO).
Player in Focus
Simon Kjaer (Denmark)
— UEFA EURO 2020 (@EURO2020) June 30, 2021
Amid all the hype around the likes of Dolberg, Maehle and Damsgaard, Denmark’s most importantly is arguably their captain Simon Kjaer. Recently voted as the best player in the Round of 16, the AC Milan centre-back has enjoyed a phenomenal campaign, marshalling the Danish backline and leading the team to the quarter-finals.
Despite the presence of talented players around him, it is Kjaer’s experience and leadership that has helped the Danes reach this far. Such qualities could once again prove critical if the Hjulmand’s men are to advance through to the semi-finals. Not to mention, Kjaer’s defensive prowess will be important in preventing the sharp attacking Czech side from causing any problems this weekend.
Tomas Vaclik (Czech Republic)
The Czech Republic have definitely made a statement with their quality players like Schick, Soucek and Darida. However, one player who is going to be more important than ever is goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik.
The Sevilla shot-stopper has been incredible in this tournament, producing multiple brilliant performances in between the sticks. This time around, he might be busier than ever, facing a Denmark team that ranks highest in terms of shots on goal and shots on target. They have also scored eight goals in the last two matches – potentially making Vaclik an X-factor in the Czech defence.
Denmark 3-1 Czech Republic
Denmark are certainly the favourites heading into this encounter due to their excellent, free-scoring form. The resurgence of players like Dolberg, Braithwaite, and the consistent performances from Maehle, Kjaer, and Hojbjerg give them the edge in defence, midfield, and attack.
The Czech Republic are no pushovers boasting a strong side that is capable of advancing to the next round. However, they might struggle to find any answer to Denmark’s onslaught, especially if the opposition can avoid any silly errors. As such, we are expecting the Danes to secure a hard-fought 3-1 victory in Baku this weekend.