Denmark team guide Women’s Euro 2022: stars, players, coach, tactics, expectations...
The 2017 runners-up are in a tricky group where they will face eight-time-winners Germany, Finland and the strongly fancied Spain team.
Having finished second at the 2017 Euros, it hurt not to see Denmark at the 2019 World Cup. A pay dispute with the Danish FA (DBU) led to the team forfeiting a game against Sweden, finishing second in the group behind their neighbours before losing a a play-off against the Netherlands.
However, missing out on the World Cup seems to have lit a collective fire in the squad and in the qualifiers for this summer’s Euros and next year’s World Cup they have been ruthless. For the Euros they walked Group B before Italy, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Malta, Israel, and Georgia. The Danes impressed with a particularly strong defence, conceding only one goal while at the other end they scored 48 goals in 10 games. The Chelsea star Pernille Harder explained: “[The manager] Lars Søndergaard has given us a distinctive and attractive way of playing and it is important for us that we play beautiful football.”
Lars Sødergaard also moved away from the more traditional 4-3-3 or 4-4-2 to a 3-4-3 formation with wingbacks, allowing players such as Sofie Svava, Sara Thrige, Janni Thomsen and Nicoline Sørensen to thrive on the flanks. As crossing is a particular speciality of this team, Denmark crowd the penalty area with attacking players – as well as the other wing-back – to get more players into scoring positions.
The one-year delay of the Euros could give Denmark a small advantage as they have just qualified for their first World Cup since 2007 and confidence is high. Denmark also have, like several other countries, a host of young players coming through. Søndergaard even said at the time when the tournament was postponed: “This team has a great mix of experience and haven’t reached their peak yet. There are a lot of players who are only going to get better.”
And, indeed, the past 12 months have seen players such as Signe Bruun, Lene Christensen, Svava and Kathrine Møller Kühl develop further and become even bigger assets for the Red and Whites.
And that one year has made it possible for the likes of Bruun, Christensen, Svava, Kühl ect. to further their development and make them a bigger asset for the Red and White.
The 63-year-old Lars Søndergaard has been in charge of the national team since December 2017. Having coached Danish clubs sides such as AaB, Viborg FF and SønderjyskE, as well as a couple of Austrian clubs, since 1996, this was his first time coaching women. He admitted early on that he did not see any major differences between coaching a women’s and a men’s side, apart from perhaps one. “The female players ask a lot more questions and want to talk everything though,” he said. “It is very positive, but it was something that I needed to get used to.” He is well-liked by the players and staff and it was no surprise that he signed a new contract to take in the 2023 World Cup.
Pernille Harder has so many individual prizes that those not on display at her parents’ home are stored under her bed in London. The attack-minded Chelsea star has won the league in every season she has played since winning her first Damallsvenskan in 2016 (with Linköping, Wolfsburg and Chelsea). She is the all-time scorer for the Danish national team – men and women – with 67 goals (as of 7 June). She is the captain of the side and a delight to watch in a free role. She seems to find spaces and passes like no one else. Harder is not only a role model on the pitch but off it to being a member of Common Goal and known for her LGBTQ+ rights campaigning.
Kathrine Kühl will turn 19 on the day before the tournament starts, and is the youngest member of the Danish squad, but the super talent knows how to up her game when it is needed. She is a locksmith that can open up the tightest of defences with clever passes and mesmerising technique. She is unlikely to start the group games but is likely to make an impact whenever she is on the pitch. The Nordsjælland midfielder has been a huge profile in Kvindeligaen for a couple of years now and will be the one to watch this summer, as well as many, many years to come.
Probable lineup (3-4-3)
Katrine Pedersen spent more than 25 years with the Danish national team, first as player and then as assistant coach. Active between 1994 and 2013 she won a remarkable 210 caps, more than any other Dane. She is, more than anyone, synonymous with “Kvindelandsholdet”, controlling games from her defensive midfield role. She led Denmark in five Euros and three World Cups as a player and is a role model for the current players, having been there for most of their debuts, whether as player or assistant coach. She is now the now head coach for Danish women’s side AGF.
Denmark are no strangers to this competition, the 2017 runners-up having participated in the first ever tournament, in 1984. They have qualified for every tournament since 1991. The red and whites have never won the Euros but they have four bronze medals (1991, 1993, 2001 and 2013) and reached their first final five years ago, losing 4-2 to the Netherlands. In 2013 they nearly reached the final without winning a single game in normal time. Two draws in the group stage meant they were one of the two best third-placed teams before a draw and a penalty shootout win against France put them in the semis. There, however, their luck ran out and they lost against Norway on spot kicks.
Realistic aim for this summer
With bronze in 2013 and silver in 2017 Denmark will have hopes to go all the way this time but group B is incredibly tough – Denmark have been paired with Germany, Spain and Finland – and the likelihood is that their adventure will end after three games.