What came to mind, when considering this Denmark versus Wales Last 16 game, were football fan’s second sides. Most people have one, don’t they? They’re usually an underdog or a side that play attractive football or both. They’re a team who you can get behind, alongside your own top team. Denmark against Wales will provide two nations that are backed by many neutrals.
Denmark Against Wales in the Last 16 of Euro 2020
Cameroon in the World Cup in Italy, 1990 comes to mind. As does Leicester City, who against the odds, triumphed in the English Premier League in 2015/16.
This brings us to the main point which is that Wales, who recently have been a go-to second side, won’t be for this clash against Denmark. Wales’ recent successes and a tight-knit, appealing camaraderie have endeared them to many, but the likeable Danes may have a better backing for this encounter.
Dignity and Courage in Difficult Circumstances
Not this time though, not for the majority anyway. Denmark, for a number of reasons, will be many people’s second choice. They had a truly sickening beginning to this Euros. The sudden and unexpected cardiac arrest that befell Christian Eriksen was a shock to us all. His teammates behaved with exemplary dignity and courage in trying circumstances. It meant that when we look back, alongside Eriksen’s loss of consciousness, it will be those positive examples of solidarity that will also live long in the memory.
Thankfully Eriksen’s life was saved and he is now on the road to recovery. Subsequently, Denmark lost the hastily replayed game against Finland. They then lost narrowly to Belgium before beating Russia handsomely in a raucous and emotional Copenhagen to qualify for the next stages. For them to get to the round of 16 is a testament to their resilience and tenacity after a tremendously difficult episode.
As a result, many will be rooting for Denmark. Their fans, press and countrymen will be likely singing from the same hymn sheet. Of course, no one would have wanted to see Christian Eriksen collapse. If there are crumbs of comfort to be had, it’s that times of adversity can and will draw people together.
Wales on the other hand may not have so many rooting for them as a second side. They have got their own, albeit smaller than Denmark, hurdles to climb. They have already put the miles in having travelled to Baku and Rome for the opening fixtures, Denmark’s first three games have all been played at home. Their travelling “red wall” won’t be present due to coronavirus restrictions. Denmark’s fans can attend as long as they negotiate the test and quarantine minefield, and only spend twelve hours in Holland.
How do Wales Approach the Game?
For Wales to get anything out of this game they will have to cope with the emotion of the occasion. Will Denmark come out of the blocks strong? If they do and Wales are able to withstand the onslaught, might doubt start to creep into the Denmark team? Discipline and defensive shape will be crucial as will be the ability to hold the ball and tire out the opposition. If the basics are carried out successfully, could Wales’ attacking players then go and snatch a winner on the break?
There have been ten head to heads between these two nations, none of which have been drawn. Does the law of averages mean that a draw and penalties could be on the cards? This is not most people’s idea of a satisfactory culmination to a game! So far, Denmark have won on six occasions, Wales four times. Denmark had the upper hand most recently, winning twice in the 2018 UEFA Nations League. They have never met in a major international tournament until now.
With a lot being at stake there’s a strong chance that it will be a cagey affair. This changes should either team get an early goal. Many neutral fans will be hoping for just that.