Denmark showed little evidence at
Euro 2012 of the 'Danish dynamite' so beloved of their fans and
paid the price for a lack of firepower and creativity by going
out at the group stage.
Michael Krohn-Dehli gave them an unlikely 1-0 victory in
their opening group B game against the Netherlands, and for a
few brief days they were in pole position along with Germany.
But a lack of imagination and inspiration coupled with a
defensive frailty already exposed in recent friendlies
undermined the team and they never really recovered from a late
goal that brought a 3-2 loss to Portugal in the second game.
The Danes finished third in the group after a 2-1 defeat by
Germany on Sunday, a respectable result given their resources
and the opposition.
"Our fans should be proud of us for a game like this. We did
well this tournament, all the players did a great job, but there
are still a lot of things to work on," coach Morten Olsen told a
The Danes sat back against Germany and never really pressed
for the win they needed to qualify, a tactic which clearly
puzzled Germany coach Joachim Low.
"Denmark plays with a real calmness, it seems as if they
really don't care about the result... they stayed back a lot.
They should have wanted to win the game," he said.
Much like the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the Danes
entered Euro 2012 as overachievers.
But 2010 marked the last stand for record goalscorer Jon
Dahl Tomasson and influential winger Jesper Gronkjaer and, other
than Nicklas Bendtner, there were few obvious replacements.
Bendtner scored two goals at Euro 2012 and set up another
but often found himself lacking support as Olsen decided to
shore up vulnerabilities elsewhere.
Bendtner's strength, his power in the air and his ability to
hold up the ball means the Arsenal striker should have no
problem finding a new club when the transfer window opens on
July 1, having been on loan at Sunderland last season.
The burden of being the creative sparks in Olsen's team fell
to Dennis Rommedahl and Christian Eriksen, but neither met the
Only four months old when Denmark won at Euro 1992, Eriksen
found himself well-shackled throughout and, with no room to
dribble or pass, he was anonymous for long periods.
His more senior counterpart Rommedahl is one of the most
talented, electric players of his generation in Denmark and he
is also far and away the most frustrating.
Virtually unstoppable when the mood takes him, he brought
his most inconsistent form to the Euros, and was more of a
burden than an asset before injury ended his tournament.
Niki Zimling and William Kvist worked tirelessly in
midfield, but with no effective outlet to the wings or up front
they were never able to provide much inspiration.
One bright spot for Olsen was the performance of back-up
goalkeeper Stephan Andersen, who stepped up when Thomas Sorensen
succumbed to a back injury before the tournament.
With only a handful of caps sprinkled over his eight-year
involvement with the national side, the 30-year-old performed
admirably behind a sometimes shaky defence.
But in a group containing three teams all with a legitimate
chance of winning the whole tournament, Denmark were always
going to struggle.
As Germany went 2-1 up and the clock ran down, the Danes
reached for the dynamite one last time, but there was none left
in the store.
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