3 things we learned from Czech Republic v. Denmark
An inspirational run continues as Denmark reached the EURO 2020 semifinals as they beat a spirited Czech Republic 2-1 in Baku, Azerbaijan.
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After the shocking situation regarding Christian Eriksen in the first half of their first game of EURO 2020, and after losing their opening two group games, the Danes are two wins away from winning the entire tournament.
Thomas Delaney and Kasper Dolberg scored in the first half to put them in dreamland and although Patrik Schick scored early in the second half and the Czech side pushed hard for an equalizer, Denmark held on.
Denmark (ranked No. 10 in the world) have now reached the final four of the European Championships for the first time since they won the tournament in 1992, as Kasper Hjulmand has masterminded an inspiring run to the semifinals.
3 things we learned, Czech Republic - Denmark
1. Denmark do just enough: They came flying out of the traps and totally deserved their half time 2-0 lead. Denmark then sat back and played a dangerous game, as they looked tired in the second half, but they did just enough to secure this win. With Hojbjerg and Delaney ahead of Kjaer, Christensen and Vestergaard, they look so solid at the back and left it to the likes of Joakim Maehle and Mikkel Damsgaard to create chances. Poulsen is back from injury and will provide an extra cutting edge and all in all, this was fairly comfortable for Denmark.
2. Czech Republic too timid in first half: They will be ruing their team selection and timid tactics, as they didn’t start playing until the second half. Jankto and Krmencik made a big difference after coming on at half time as they added extra support around Schick, who scored his fifth goal of the tournament to lead the scoring charts alongside Cristiano Ronaldo. It was a great achievement to get to the quarterfinals, but this feels like an opportunity missed for the Czech Republic.
3. Destiny for the Danes: Sometimes in life things are just meant to be. This feels like one of those runs. After Christian Eriksen suffered a cardiac arrest on the pitch in Denmark’s opening game the entire world is supporting the Danes. They are everyone’s favorite second team for the way their players, coaches and fans reacted to that horrible situation. It seems like Denmark are destined to cause a huge shock in this tournament and you would not bet against them winning the entire thing.
Man of the Match: Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg - Dominated midfield and helped shut things down when Denmark were struggling in the second half.
Denmark got off to a perfect start as a corner from the right found an unmarked Delaney and he headed home the opener.
After the early goal, Denmark sat back and had to soak up plenty of pressure. Mikkel Damsgaard didn’t make the most of a chance on the break, while at the other end Schick had a shot blocked and Petr Sevcik blasted over.
Delaney should have doubled the lead as a cross into the box found him but he appeared to not be ready and bobbled an effort wide. Kasper Schmeichel then denied Tomas Holes after his initial mistake set up the attack.
Jannik Vestergaard set up Damsgaard on the break but his shot was saved by Tomas Vaclik, then Denmark doubled their lead right on half time.
Joakhim Maehle crossed superbly with the outside of his right foot and Dolberg tapped home.
In the second half Denmark had a lot of defending to do as Jankto and Krmencik came on at half time, and Barak forced Schmeichel into a save.
Schick had an overhead kick blocked as only one team looked like scoring the next goal.
And it was soon Schick, as he flicked home his fifth goal of EURO 2020 to get his Czech Republic side back into the game.
Yussuf Poulsen came off the bench for Denmark and tried to get them going again and he had a few chances, but it was all about the newfound belief of the Czech Republic in the second half.
Jankto’s shot was cleared by Simon Kjaer as Denmark dropped deeper and deeper late on. Maehle was played clean through but was denied by Vaclik as Denmark had chances to finish things off on the break.
In the end they held on fairly easily as they reached the semifinals for the first time since they won the tournament in 1992 and for the fourth time in history.
They couldn’t, could they?