Q & A
Football's biggest stars in the hot seat
Arsenal (for now) and Denmark striker Nicklas Bendtner tells FourFourTwo how much he's looking forward to Euro 2012.
FFT: How would you describe the mood in the camp going into the Euros?
NB: The spirit is brilliant. We qualified from a very difficult group and came out on top of Portugal and Norway, which shows how well we have done. We know we have a tough challenge ahead but we can’t wait to get going. The other teams in our group all play fantastic football so we know we will have to compete harder than ever.
Which teams do you count as the favourites to win?
Holland and Germany are up there but my favourites are Spain. They have great players but they play as a strong unit as well, as they showed at Euro 2008 and the World Cup. The way they play football is amazing.
Some people have said the Euros is more difficult to win than the World Cup. What do you think?
There is certainly less room for error because absolutely all the teams are very strong. The pressure will be intense from the first whistle. But as Denmark showed when they won the competition in 1992, anyone can win it.
Do you rate England’s chances?
The expectations are always sky-high for England – that comes from the quality of players they have got. England are in as strong a position as Germany, Holland and even Spain. I am sure they can go all the way.
From an individual point of view, what are your own ambitions heading into the tournament?
For a start, I just want to see if we can get through the group stages. There's no point thinking about anything beyond that. For me, to help the team get through is my priority... and then to score a goal in the Euros would be fantastic.
Does being in the ‘group of death’ put more or less pressure on Denmark?
I think this is a good group to be in. At the Euros you are bound to face good teams and you may as well play them at the group stage.
You'll be expected to provide Denmark’s main goal threat…
That’s not a problem at all. I scored three goals in the qualifying group, including the winner against Portugal, and I am happy to have goalscoring responsibilities. I enjoy the pressure. That’s my job.
How important has your loan spell at Sunderland been in getting you match-fit for the Euros?
It has done me plenty of good being at Sunderland. The more you play, the better you feel physically and mentally. Wearing a mask [due to a broken nose] wasn’t ideal because it impairs your vision, but hopefully I won’t need it back on for the Euros.
What’s it like to play with Christian Eriksen? He looks some player…
He is a very promising attacking midfielder, and he is good to play with because he has the ability to produce something special. But one other to watch out for is his Ajax team-mate Nicolai Boilesen, who is a defender with plenty of potential. They are not the only good young players in the Denmark team and, who knows, there might be more who emerge at the Euros.
Interview by Rob Stewart. From the June 2012 issue of FourFourTwo.
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