Finnish goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky did not beat the bush when he commented on the difference between his team and Denmark in the European Championship.
“They have better players than us in every position,” Hradecky said before Finland’s debut at a major international event.
But the Bayer Leverkusen goalkeeper pointed to a factor that could play into his side’s favour, ahead of Saturday’s Group B match in Copenhagen.
“We’ve shown in the past that our collective action is superior to what many people think,” he said.
Few would dare question Hradek’s conclusions.
While striker Teemu Pukki (Norwich) is the most prominent figure in Finland, the Danes have a full core that includes goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester), central defenders Andreas Christensen (Chelsea) and Simon Kjaer (AC Milan) and midfielders Pierre Emile. Hogberg (Tottenham) and Christian Eriksen (Inter).
Finland is a team that has worked to achieve great consistency by qualifying for its first major tournament with coach Marco Kanerva. This is largely due to the fact that the Canerva team base has been playing together since the UEFA European Under-19 Championship in 2009.
With such a strong association, Finland could be able to catch more than one surprise at Euro 2020. Denmark, of course, knows very well how they excelled in this tournament, having been crowned European champions in 1992, one of the great surprises in football history.
Now Denmark has to deal with the case of carrying the favorite tag, at least in one match. Russia and Belgium, semi-finalists at the last World Cup and first in the FIFA rankings, complete a group in which a victory over Finland is absolutely necessary to advance to the last 16.
Denmark wants more. As much as most of today’s Danish players were not born in 1992, this unexpected campaign is on their minds.
“All Danes know by heart what happened in 1992,” who was barely four months old when Denmark defeated Germany in that final. “There have been films and TV series about it and every player on this team is famous in Denmark. His legacy is huge. They showed that you can win a great tournament.”
Denmark will have the advantage of being able to play all three of its group stage matches at Copenhagen’s Parken Arena, which will open the doors for 15,000 fans to host Finland. The number could rise to 25,000 for matches against Russia and Finland, after the government announced on Thursday the easing of restrictions due to the pandemic. This is the first time that Denmark has hosted a major tournament.