The Danish perspective: Joe Short
While the Netherlands were putting six past Northern Ireland last weekend, Denmark played out a convincing 2-0 defeat over Australia in their final friendly before the start of Euro 2012. The performance in Copenhagen will boost confidence as Morten Olsen’s side attempt to achieve the impossible and escape the ‘Group of Death.’
They may be seen as underdogs – both in a tough group and up against World Cup 2010 finalists Holland in Kharkhiv – but it would be foolish to write off Denmark.
What the Danes lack in raw talent, they made up for in togetherness during a successful qualifying campaign that saw just one defeat in eight games. The Netherlands can expect a dogged side prepared to sit and wait for their chance.
Drilled in their familiar 4-3-3, Denmark are likely to move forward quickly when they have possession. With talisman Christian Eriksen set to shine in the centre of midfield, Holland will need to hold back either Mark van Bommel or Nigel de Jong to stifle any creativity. Expect a Dutch booking within the first 20 minutes for a foul on Eriksen.
Denmark’s narrow formation may well come undone by Holland’s expansive play. Arjen Robben will be given space on the wings, but if Denmark can cut off the supply to Robin van Persie up front, they can cause an upset.
Both goals against Australia came from central defenders, and up against the Netherlands’ relatively unfancied back four, any set piece is likely to be attacked with full Viking force. Holland should break through once, but don’t expect Danish incompetence this evening.
Score prediction: Denmark 1-1 Netherlands
Draw at 3.60; Denmark 1-1 Netherlands at 7.50; Mark van Bommel to be shown a card at 3.20.
The Dutch perspective: Onno Heijdens
Here we go! The Dutch face Denmark in a game that just has to be won. The Oranje will be looking for a win to generate confidence ahead of matches against tougher opponents.
Christian Eriksen says the Danes are a better team than two years ago, when we beat them easily enough in South Africa. We’ll wait and see if this is the case, but even a defeat in this game need not be fatal – after all, we triumphed in 1988 after losing our first game.
Denmark haven’t beaten us for 45 years, though. With Robin van Persie leading a potent Dutch attack, the Denmark defence could be in for a thorough examination.
We have problems of our own in defence, with Pieters out and Mathijsen struggling with injury. Niklas Bendtner, who has long been touted as a great talent, might just fancy his chances this evening.
Another interesting factor is that many Denmark players play, or have played, in the Dutch league. They know the strengths and weaknesses of the Netherlands side, but I still feel confident that the Oranje will come out on top.
Score prediction: Denmark 1-3 Netherlands
Netherlands win at 1.67; Netherlands 3-1 at 15.00; Bendtner to score at 3.80.