On the face of it Denmark have the toughest task of any team in the tournament having been drawn in the so-called ‘Group of Death’ alongside World Cup finalists Holland, Euro 2008 finalists Germany and Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal.
As such, they are outsiders in bwin’s qualification market to escape Euro 2012 Group B at football betting odds of 9/2, while Germany are 1/4 favourites with Holland and Portugal 9/20 and 23/20 respectively.
But a look beyond the names suggests that backing Denmark to make the quarter-finals might not be the worst option for punters to make a small play on.
Having conceded just six goals in qualifying the Danes can frustrate Bert van Marwijk’s team and open with a win or draw at 27/20.
If the Danes are outsiders this year, then that’s nothing compared to their position headed into Euro 92 where, having failed to qualify, they famously ‘came off the beach’ to replace Yugoslavia and ended up winning the whole tournament, so they’re clearly a side who thrive when expectations are low.
They got that campaign off to a good start with a draw against England so will look to do the same when they face Holland.
The Dutch have often struggled with the favourites tag (see the unbelievable shoot-out defeat to Italy in Euro 2004) and having conceded just six goals in qualifying the Danes can frustrate Bert van Marwijk’s team and open with a win or draw at 27/20.
That defensive record (the fifth best in qualifying) was key to long-serving manager Morten Olsen’s fourth successful qualification campaign and he will need 100-cap keeper Thomas Sorenson and captain Daniel Agger to be on top of their game against the likes of Mario Gomez, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Ronaldo, who have 170 goals between them this season.
In order to turn draws into wins, Denmark will rely on the creativity of Christian Eriksen, the 20-year-old Ajax playmaker who is one of Europe’s hottest prospects and was named Danish Footballer and Eredivisie Young Player of the Year in 2011.
Eriksen pulled the strings as Denmark beat Portugal 2-1 in the final qualifier to earn top spot and show the Danes have nothing to fear when they face Paulo Bento’s men again in Euro 2012 Group B.
And while it will be tough to keep the Germans quiet, Denmark could already have done enough to sneak into the quarters.
Either way, they certainly have a better chance of making it through than their Euro 2012 odds of 9/2 suggest.
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