In the second semifinals of the European Championship, mature Danes meet young Englishmen. With solid leadership players, the Scandinavians want to turn experience into combat strength again.
Whatever pictures this European Championship will produce up to the final on Sunday – the permanent image has been fixed since the game’s first day. The protective circle that the Danish players formed in the game against Finland for their teammate Christian Eriksen, who was struggling for his life, is already a defining picture of sporting history.
When football became utterly unimportant, it showed itself from its best, its solidary and respectful side.
“The highest respect” to Captain Kjaer
Simon Kjaer mainly organized the team. Although the team captain is close friends with Eriksen, he kept the overview and took the proper measures in a matter of seconds. He ran across the field, waved the doctors and paramedics over with Thomas Delaney, put Eriksen on his side and checked whether he had swallowed his tongue.
Then he also comforted Eriksen’s girlfriend, who had hurried onto the field. “When I think about what Simon Kjaer has achieved in this situation, then I have the utmost respect for this person,” said sports psychologist Werner Mickler, who is responsible for the psychological training of Bundesliga coaches, to ZDFheute.
Kjaer enjoys the responsibility in Milan and Denmark
The team’s unity with which Denmark made it to the semifinals is the increased trust of the teammates in the leading players. Kjaer, who played with mixed success at VfL Wolfsburg from 2010 to 2013, also demonstrated leadership qualities at one of his current clubs, AC Milan.
At the side of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, he led the club back into the Champions League as a stabilizer. “With my experience, I should take responsibility on and off the pitch,” he said of his role in Milan and the national team. “I enjoy that as a player and as a person.”
Stable next to Ibrahimovic
As in Milan, the responsibility for the Danish national team is spread over several shoulders. Behind Kjaer is a goalkeeper, Kaspar Schmeichel, who, like the head of defense, is a globetrotter of football and has well over a hundred international matches under his belt. With his current club Leicester City, he rose to the Premier League and was sensationally English champion in 2016.
So he knows what it takes to create a sensation with an outsider. “That’s what makes a great team: play well, but also fight, fight and fight, and that’s what we have done,” he said of Danish Dynamite’s previous appearances at the European Championship. In the game against Finland, he took over the leadership role from Kjaer when he was mentally exhausted.
Vestergaard, Christensen, Höjbjerg: warhorse with rousing energy
Three other warriors from Premier League frame captain Kjaer: Jannik Vestergaard, Andreas Christensen, and ex-Bayern professional Pierre Emile Höjbjerg, who, according to Spiegel, “carries the whole team away with his energy.” A little further ahead, Thomas Delaney from Dortmund works like a “mule,” according to the Danish press. At the very front, Kasper Dolberg and Mikkel Damsgaard are so effective that Leipzig’s Yussuf Poulsen only came off the bench in the end.
Good memories of Wembley
In addition, Kasper Hjulmland is a trainer who, despite his authority, trusts that the ensemble will take care of things on the pitch itself. Like on October 14th last year at Wembley Stadium, when friends Eriksen and Kjaer played their 100th international match together in the Nations League against England. At that time, Eriksen scored the winning goal with a penalty to make it 1-0. This is not the only reason why it will be in the minds of all Danish players and fans again in the new edition of the World Cup semifinals.