Denmark relishing Wales clash in familiar Amsterdam


Steady hands: Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel preparing for their last 16 match against Wales at the team’s base camp in Elsinore.— AFP

AMSTERDAM: Denmark will be playing their first game away from Copenhagen’s Parken Stadium when they take on Wales in their Euro 2020 last 16 tie today but there will still be a familiar feel in Amsterdam.

The Danish national team have long been influenced by the Dutch masters at Ajax Amsterdam, and plenty of Danish players like Michael Laudrup, Morten Olsen, as a manager, and current striker Kasper Dolberg have thrived in the capital.

“It is a fantastic place, a fantastic stadium, which under normal circumstances is absolutely wild to play in. So yeah, I’m really just looking forward to it,” Dolberg told reporters.

For Denmark to be facing Wales in a knockout game two weeks after playmaker Christian Eriksen, who made his breakthrough at Ajax, suffered a cardiac arrest in their opener against Finland, is a huge achievement. Their 4-1 win over Russia, with the team roared on by a fanatical crowd, saw them through.

There will be no such backing in Amsterdam, however, as fewer than 2,000 tickets have been made available to Danish fans who want to attend the game.

“It means a lot to have that support and they have been great to play for, but it does not change much in our plan and what we have to do on the field,” Dolberg said.

Wales will once again rely on Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale for the creative spark they will need to break down the Danes, as well as the formidable long throw-ins of Conor Roberts.

Ethan Ampadu is suspended after his sending-off in the 1-0 defeat against Group A winners Italy and coach Rob Page is likely to revert to a flat back four after experimenting with a 3-4-3 line-up against the flying Italians.

“We’re all ambitious,” Page told the UEFA website.

“I am as a coach, they are as players. We want to go as far as we can. We know that on our day we can give anybody a good game. We know that on our day we can hurt teams as well.”

Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand is again likely to deploy 20-year-old winger Mikkel Damsgaard, who opened the scoring against Russia, in the playmaking role in place of Eriksen, but it will take another sterling collective effort if they are to advance.

“We’ve looked at Wales and they’re a very strong team... a very even game awaits,” Hjulmand said. — Reuters

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