When Christian Eriksen fell face first onto the Parken Stadium turf in Copenhagen, soccer was the least of the considerations for the 40,000 in attendance for Denmark vs Finland, or the tens of millions tuning in by means of screens from around the globe.
Engulfed within the darkness of the heart-stopping episode, awaiting an announcement from UEFA, the 2 units of supporters created one among soccer’s all time moments as they shared Eriksen’s chant that was heard around the globe. The Finland followers chanting, ‘Christian’, Denmark followers answering, ‘Eriksen.’ A magical second that kickstarted a wave of emotional help for the Danish crew on the Euros. And on that wave, they rode to supply a goosebumps-inducing marketing campaign that just about ended with an look within the last.
A marketing campaign whose spirit, in phrases of coach Kasper Hjulmand, ‘is certainly nonetheless right here’ 17 months later because the Danes embark on their World Cup marketing campaign taking part in Tunisia on Tuesday.
Denmark would wish to take off from the place they left the world rooting for them at Euros. For they have been onto one thing with their fizzing exhausting urgent assault of their recreation.
Assault, the perfect defence: What made them profitable final yr
That previous footie stereotype was given a gushing purple paint job as Denmark-Euro 2021 mark two went all out with an intense urgent and attacking-in-numbers type of play.
Denmark’s gamers got a ship off by faculty youngsters earlier than heading to the World Cup 🤗 pic.twitter.com/GfHqezlzJm
— B/R Soccer (@brfootball) November 15, 2022
Whereas Christian Eriksen was the kingpin who oversaw their midfield operations with clean passing and ballet-like buildup inside a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 formation, in his absence, Kasper Hjulmand switched to a extra progressive 3-4-3, open to adjustment 3-4-2-1 system.
After going 0-1 all the way down to Finland, Denmark scored 12 objectives within the subsequent 5 matches, ending solely behind the joint high scorers Italy and Spain. Of the entire minutes they performed, the Danes would rating 1.89 objectives per 90 minutes. Solely Netherlands (2) averaged higher on the match.
It was basic math. Extra pictures with extra accuracy result in extra objectives. If solely the world was this straightforward. For Denmark, perhaps it was. Per 90 minutes, Denmark registered 14.37 pictures each match, solely behind Spain (16.14) and Italy (15.87). On the right track per 90 (5.84), they have been extra environment friendly than the eventual winners Italy (4.50).
How everybody chipped in
The Denmark equipment might have regarded stable up entrance but it surely required all of the items from the aim stopper to aim scorers in making that occur.
Goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel was a significant contributor within the crew shifting the ball upwards, having the fourth-highest progressive passing distance (2996) within the competitors.
Captain Simon Kjaer guarded behind when Denmark progressed ahead in numbers. With a profitable stress share of 44.7, not far behind primary Aymeric Laporte (51.9%), Kjaer acted as the proper channel to carry the defensive position whereas others penetrated forwards.
Jannik Vestergaard and Andreas Christensen made for the opposite two within the backline. Between them, the duo received 37 aerials, highest by any pair within the competitors.
Shifting ahead the wing backs, as you’d anticipate, performed an necessary half within the transition from 4 on the again to 3. Within the highway to the semis, whereas left again Joakim Maehle carried the ball extra occasions into the penalty space than some other participant (12), proper again Jens Stryger Larsen would ship joint-third most crosses into the field so as to add selection into the Danish wing-back system.
Within the central midfield, Pierre-Emile Højbjerg took over because the chief playmaker with a complete of 24 shot creating actions, fourth-best on the 2021 Euro, main to 3 direct assists.
Denmark’s Kasper Dolberg, second left, celebrates scoring with teammates Christian Eriksen, heart proper, Joachim Maehle and Andreas Skov Olsen, proper, in the course of the UEFA Nations League soccer match between Denmark and France at Parken Stadium in Copenhagen, Denmark, Sunday Sept. 25, 2022. (Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix through AP)
Mikkel Damsgaard, who changed Christian Eriksen within the XI, produced moments that appeared past the realm of stats, notably his two objectives, in opposition to Russia and England. Nevertheless, if you have a look at the truth that each these objectives had an Anticipated Objectives charge of 0.03, they appear much more ridiculously good.
Within the knockouts in opposition to Wales and Czech Republic, Kasper Dolberg scored three of Denmark’s six objectives. The 25-year-old completed the match with a objectives/90 minutes charge (1.21) solely second to Cristiano Ronaldo (1.25).
Return of the prodigal son, evolution of the crew
However there’s extra to groups than numbers.
The Eriksen scare was a second in Danish historical past, that may linger lengthy for the way it tugged at emotion within the recreation. When he went down, Finnish midfielder Robin Lod raised each his arms, signaling in the direction of the benches. Referee Anthony Taylor instantly stopped play. Denmark captain Simon Kjaer rushed to assist place his unconscious teammate in a restoration place. He’d later rush to the opposite aspect of the pitch with goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel to consolation Eriksen’s distraught associate close to the touchline.
The remainder of the Danish gamers stood round their teammate as he obtained medical consideration, in tears. A bunch of Finnish followers dropped their flags to assist them cowl Eriksen in the course of the therapy and when he was being stretchered off the pitch on his solution to the close by Rigshospitalet. Their gamers have been down on their knees close to the touchline. All of this being broadcasted stay on the Euro 2021 match world feed because the cameras by no means went off.
For Finland, this was their first look as a nation in a significant soccer match. For Denmark and Copenhagen, a primary occasion of internet hosting a significant soccer match. An event of celebrations had was a nightmare for the 2 Nordic nations when one among their very own suffered, as it will be found later, from a cardiac arrest.
Roughly 9 months after he final performed in a Denmark shirt, Christian Eriksen solely took two minutes to attain a luxurious curling aim in opposition to the Netherlands in the course of the March worldwide break.
Opposite to primitive opinions, Denmark haven’t gone again to their previous 4 on the again system with Eriksen returning within the XI. Extra apparently nevertheless, they haven’t caught with their three man defensive position both. A lot to Darwin’s worry, the idea of evolution within the Denmark system meant they might be no matter they wished to be, every time they wished to be.
The 2 fixtures they performed in opposition to the world champions within the Nations League act as a museum show of the identical.
Again in June, when Denmark travelled to the Stade de France they formed up in a barely extra conservative model of their 3-4-3 system that shifted to 5 on the again while defending deep and moved up entrance on counters. A profitable tactic that helped them take residence a 2-1 win after going 1-0 down.
Three months later, once they hosted France on the Parken Stadium, Christian Eriksen began in his pure quantity 10 place in a 4-3-3 setup that developed attacking strikes extra typically and have been profitable in pinning the stress early with two first half objectives that supplied Denmark with a 2-0 win in what was their final recreation within the lead as much as the World Cup. On the Parken Stadium within the Danish capital, a yr and half lengthy story arc has seen the whole lot in soccer and past.
The query nonetheless stays, if you hear somebody tag Denmark because the darkish horses of this World Cup, how do you resist? How do you resist from responding, a crew that beat the world champions twice inside three months deploying two totally different methods can’t be darkish horses. A crew that stood sturdy round and with out Christian Eriksen, and are actually again with him on the World Cup can’t be darkish horses. They’ve to be extra.
Eye-popping Denmark stats from Euros
37 – Jannik Vestergaard and Andreas Christensen between them received 37 aerials, highest by any pair within the competitors.
12 – Left again Joakim Maehle carried the ball extra occasions into the penalty space than some other participant (12).
1.21 – Kasper Dolberg scored three of Denmark’s six objectives and the 25-year-old completed the match with a objectives/90 minutes charge of 1.21, solely second to Cristiano Ronaldo (1.25).
2996 – Kasper Schmeichel was a significant contributor within the crew shifting the ball upwards, having the 4th highest progressive passing distance (2996) within the competitors.
24 – Central midfield Pierre-Emile Højbjerg took over because the chief playmaker with a complete of 24 shot creating actions, fourth greatest on the 2021 Euro, main to 3 direct assists.
12 – Denmark scored 12 objectives after the Finland loss, ending solely behind the joint high scorers Italy and Spain.
1.89 – The Danes scored 1.89 objectives per 90 minutes. Solely Netherlands (2) averaged higher on the match.
14.37 – Denmark’s pictures per 90 minutes charge of 14.37 was solely behind Spain (16.14) and Italy (15.87)
5.84 – Denmark have been extra environment friendly with pictures on course per 90 minutes (5.84) than the eventual winners Italy (4.50).