Soccer-Danes relishing 'dark horse' tag ahead of Finland Euro clash

Soccer Football - Euro 2020 - Denmark Training - Elsinore, Denmark - June 10, 2021 Denmark's Jonas Wind, Martin Braithwaite and Jannik Vestergaard during training PHOTOGRAPHER/Ritzau Scanpix via REUTERS

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Denmark are relishing their status as Euro 2020 dark horses ahead of their opening Group B clash with Finland on Saturday, the first of three home games at the Parken Stadium for the Danes.

A string of good performances has many commentators tipping the Danes as possible winners of the tournament, which they won in stunning fashion in 1992 after being called up as late replacements for the former Yugoslavia.

"It's probably because we've got good results, played football that's worth watching and won some matches that we take with us," playmaker Christian Eriksen told a media conference.

"We have a lot of confidence, but to go and win, that's what we have to do if we want to go far. I think there's a lot of bumps we need to get over first," he added.

The first of those hurdles will be Finland, who are looking to make a splash after qualifying for the finals of a major tournament for the first time

"It's incredibly important that we come out and get a good start," central defender Simon Kjaer said.

Denmark face Belgium, the top-ranked side in the world, in their second Group B match, likely adding to the pressure for a result against Finland, who next take on Russia.

Coach Kasper Hjulmand, who has taken over the reins after Age Hareide orchestrated the successful Euro qualifying campaign, bristled with confidence as he said the tournament was the biggest thing ever to happen on Danish soil.

"We are in a good place, we have a good balance in the squad. We are well-prepared, we are full of energy, we are excited, we are confident and respectful of our opponent. We are where we need to be," he told reporters.

Defender Kjaer shared his coach's confidence, but sounded a note of caution with tough games against Belgium and Russia to follow.

"We have a huge amount of belief in ourselves, but we take one game at a time and one day at a time," he said.

(Reporting by Philip O'Connor; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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