Denmark Euro 2012 Roster: Latest on Team's Starting 11 and More
Denmark head to Euro 2012 facing a trio of gruelling fixtures.
To emerge from Group B and make the quarterfinals, they must eclipse the feats of at least two of the world's top five ranked nations, according to FIFA.
Germany, Holland and Portugal will all view Denmark as a vital three points, in what should prove to be the most competitive group at the Euros. Morten Olsen's men will be ranked as huge underdogs in each contest they face and will do well not to finish bottom of the pile.
The draw has been tough for the Danes to stomach, keen on re-announcing themselves on the world stage after enjoying another strong qualifying campaign.
Now up to 10th in the world themselves, it is incredibly harsh to be pitted alongside three teams listed above them, especially given that all three currently reside in the top five, while no side in Group A is ranked higher than Denmark.
Since shocking the world and winning the tournament in 1992, their four subsequent tournaments have only seen the Danish side make the final eight once (in 2004), something the nation was hoping to improve on this summer.
Here is the latest news emerging from the Danish camp, with just 19 days to go until their first fixture against Holland.
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
Last week Morten Olsen revealed 20 members of his 23-man squad, choosing not to disclose his final three picks immediately.
He has since announced that Anders Lindegaard will be the third goalkeeper travelling to the summer's festivities, but despite the fact Niklas Pedersen and the uncapped Jannik Vestergaard have been invited to train with the national team, neither has been given that official Euro 2012 squad status, as of yet.
In terms of tactics, Olsen has been flexible enough to move with the times during his 12-year tenure in charge of the national team. He has favoured many schemes and formations, now keen to implement the fashionable 4-2-3-1 formation.
On May 24th, Olsen revealed that he added the final two players to the roster. They are defender Jores Okore and forward Nicklas Pedersen.
Here are the final 23 players confirmed:
Thomas Sorensen (Stoke), Stephan Andersen (Evian), Anders Lindegaard (Manchester United)
Lars Jacobsen (FC Copenhagen), Michael Silberbauer (BSC Young Boys), Simon Busk Poulsen (AZ Alkmaar), Daniel Wass (Evian), Simon Kjaer (AS Roma) , Daniel Agger (Liverpool), Andreas Bjelland (FC Nordsjaelland), Jores Okore (FC Nordsjælland).
William Kvist (Stuttgart), Christian Poulsen (Evian), Niki Zimling (Brugge), Jakob Poulsen (FC Midtjylland), Lasse Schone (Ajax), Christian Eriksen (Ajax), Michael Krohn-Dehli (Brondby) Thomas Kahlenberg (Evian)
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
Of the three stoppers named in Olsen's squad, Stoke City's Thomas Sorensen is the likely starter against Holland on June 9th.
The 35-year-old started six of his nation's eight qualifiers, keeping two clean sheets and only conceding five goals in total. With 100 caps to his name, he will bring bags of experience to the team and will be keen to shine in what may well be his last major tournament.
Stephan Andersen, one of a quartet of squad members plying their trade for Evian, in France, generally deputised for Sorensen over the qualifying period. However, of the two backups, Anders Lindegaard will probably harbour the more realistic hope of ousting his colleague over the summer.
Possible Starter: Sorensen
Michael Regan/Getty Images
In defence, two positions seem sewn up, with two berths poised to be fiercely contested.
At right-back, Lars Jacobsen is relatively unchallenged to start. The former Everton defender has been dependable—if unspectacular—for his country over many seasons, and he was ever-present during qualification.
Daniel Agger is another certainty to start, at centre-back. The Liverpool man has been consistent in the Premier League, helping his club record the joint third best defensive record in the top flight, in what has otherwise been a woeful league campaign for many at Anfield.
Who is paired with Agger is less clear, with both Simon Kjaer and Andreas Bjelland vying to win the nod from Morten Olsen.
Tipped by many to become one of the game's premier defenders, Kjaer's rise in the game has stalled somewhat. At 23, he still has ample time to resurrect his reputation, but some high-profile errors, whilst on-loan at Roma, have seen his stock dramatically plummet.
In contrast, when called upon, Bjelland enjoyed a strong qualifying campaign, particularly excelling in Denmark's impressive win over Portugal. His inexperience may still see him initially miss out, but if Kjaer appears at all short of confidence, expect him to be rapidly thrust into the fray.
At left-back, it seems an equally even contest for the starting jersey. Simon Poulsen is the man in possession, but the versatile Michael Silberbauer—equally proficient in midfield—is arguably the more defensively sound option.
Given the heavyweight opposition the Danes will tackle this summer, he may well surprisingly be preferred.
Possible Starters: Jacobsen, Kjaer, Agger, Silberbauer
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
As mentioned, Olsen is likely to employ a 4-2-3-1 shape, and the manager again faces a conundrum about a number of personnel in midfield.
In terms of the two defensive options, Stuttgart's hugely underrated powerhouse, William Kvist, will undoubtedly start. However, his partner is possibly the most open slot, with the defensive Niki Zimling, the resurgent Christian Poulsen or the more exciting choice of Lasse Schone all hopeful of inclusion.
Again, considering the elite opposition Denmark will challenge, Schone may initially find himself the least attractive option to Olsen.
Given that Zimling successfully finished the qualification campaign paired with Kvist, his name seems the more feasible, although Poulsen's welcome return to form at Evian has been noted by the Danish media.
The attacking three will be spearheaded by Christian Eriksen, a special talent ready to truly burst onto the world scene this summer. Many top scouts will have their radars tuned to his exploits, and should he flourish, Ajax may struggle to keep hold of their exciting prospect this transfer window.
On the right, Dennis Rommedahl—a speedboat that has occasionally lacked a steering wheel—was unusually steady and reliable during qualifying. He was ever-presen, and was joint top scorer with three goals. Daniel Wass could come into contention should he falter, but Rommedahl certainly deserves to start.
Opposite them, Michael Krohn-Dehli will compete with the experienced Thomas Kahlenberg on the left. Both will see action this summer, but Krohn-Dehli's recent displays—three goals in his last five—should see him singing the national anthem against Holland, though it will be another close call.
Possible Starters: Kvist, Zimling, Rommedahl, Eriksen, Krohn-Dehli
Paul Gilham/Getty Images
If everything goes to plan, Nicklas Bendtner will start throughout the Euros—if it doesn't go to plan, Denmark are in trouble.
Olsen will hope to have Bendtner as a proverbial target man, tasked with making a nuisance of himself, hassling defenders and holding up play until the likes of Rommedahl and Eriksen can bomb forward in support.
The tournament will provide the notoriously confident forward with a platform to once again advertise his skills on the world stage, something he will be keen to make the most of. Still on Arsenal's books, and down the pecking order, a couple of notable strikes could well earn him a much-desired, high-profile move away from the Emirates, revitalising his club career.
In terms of alternatives, this is where Denmark lack substantial depth, and any injury to Bendtner would seriously derail the hopes Olsen's men have of competing in this group.
Technically no other officially confirmed squad member is an out-and-out striker for his club. There are several attacking midfielders or forwards in the 21, and many have the technique to do a job—such as Tim Mikkelsen—but all would struggle to replicate Bendtner's input and pose anywhere near as many questions. It has been a bit of a surprise an option such as Mads Junker was not called up to increase the options in this area.
One of the remaining two squad places has to go to a striker. Although Nicklas Pedersen has been training with the squad, his selection has still not been confirmed, and reports have emerged from Denmark suggesting Olsen is unconvinced by his form.
He was used most often in qualifying, playing when Bendtner missed out through injury, although he has never been prolific in his club career and is yet to open his account with his country.
Possible Starter: Bendtner
Getty Images/Getty Images
It would take a monumental effort for Denmark to emerge unscathed from their group and would certainly be viewed as one of the shocks of the tournament, should they make the quarterfinals.
However, it is not impossible, and do not be surprised if the Danes take at least one surprise scalp with them this summer.
Morten Olsen has his men well-drilled and in good form, with seven wins in their previous nine internationals. Confidence will be high going into the tournament.
In qualifying they topped their group, which included Euro 2012 rivals Portugal—consigning them to the luck of the playoffs—and they have become increasingly stubborn to break down. They conceded just six goals during qualification, scoring 15.
In terms of their group opponents, Portugal provide a familiar test, and Denmark have beaten them home and away over the last few years, winning two and losing only one of their last four clashes in this time.
Although Holland eased to victory over the Danes at World Cup 2010, Olsen's men also boast a surprisingly superior record over Germany, claiming three wins and only two defeats in their past six fixtures.
Undoubtedly qualifying for the last eight would be a significant triumph for the Danes, but Euro 1992 should forever prevent fans from writing them off too quickly.
Thanks for reading! If you liked this article, follow me on Twitter for more football chat.