Thursday, July 25, 2024

Germany 2-0 Denmark: Talking points as Euro hosts book quarterfinal spot

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Euro 2024 hosts Germany faced Denmark in the round of 16 of the competition at Borussia Dortmund’s Signal Iduna Park on Saturday evening, and they successfully overcame the first hurdle in the knockout stage, courtesy of goals from Kai Havertz from the penalty spot in the 53rd minute and Jamal Musiala in the 68th.

The teams

Germany head coach Julian Nagelsmann arranged his team in a 4-3-3 formation, with Manuel Neuer in goal, Antonio Rudiger forming a centre-back partnership with Nico Schlotterbeck, flanked by Joshua Kimmich and David Raum. Toni Kroos, Robert Andrich and Ilkay Gundogad were in the middle of the park, while Leroy Sane and Jamal Musiala supported Kai Havertz upfront.

Meanwhile, Denmark boss Kasper Hjulmand went with his usual 3-4-3 system. Joachim Andersen, Andreas Christensen and Jannik Vestergaard formed the back line in front of Kasper Schmeichel in goal. Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Thomas Delaney paired up in midfield, with Alexander Bah and Joakim Maehle covering the flanks. Rasmus Hojlund was tasked with leading the attacking line, with Christian Eriksen and Andreas Skov Olsen in support.

The first half

Germany completely dominated the opening quarter of the match, and they even put the ball in the back of Schmeichel’s net in the fourth minute through Schlotterbeck, but referee Michael Oliver from England ruled the goal out, deeming Kimmich to have committed a foul in an attempt to open some space up for the Dortmund centre-back. Schmeichel had several top-level saves in that period, most notably from a long range effort from Musiala.

But Denmark gradually broke the hosts’ initiative and got a lot more into the contest as time went on, creating a couple of promising moments themselves.

With 35 minutes gone, a thunderstorm engulfed Dortmund and a strong rain, briefly mixed with ice as well, came pouring down, prompting Oliver to stop the play “due to adverse weather conditions”. It was uncertain if the match would proceed for a while, but the break eventually lasted around 25 minutes as the rain slowly eased up.

Germany tried to re-establish control after the restart, but they couldn’t produce the same sort of spark they had early in the game and Denmark found it less difficult to thwart their efforts, and the Danes actually had the best chance of the first half when Eriksen combined with Skov Olsen to set Hojlund up, but Neuer stepped up to deny the Manchester United striker.

The woes of Joachim Andersen

The first eight minutes of the second half proved decisive for the whole game, with Andersen playing the key role in a way he certainly wouldn’t have hoped for, going from what he would’ve felt as a dream moment to a complete nightmare.

The Crystal Palace defender believed he had put his team ahead early in the second period, but his composed finish from close range was ruled out for Delaney being offside in the buildup.

About a minute later, Oliver stopped the game again, but this time due to a call from the VAR room as the ball grazed Andersen’s hand in Denmark’s box. A slow-motion review revealed that Andersen did in fact (likely unintentionally) play the ball with his hand, and the referee had no choice but to award a penalty. Havertz was ruthlessly accurate from the spot and after two disallowed goals, the deadlock was finally broken.

With Germany ahead, Denmark had no choice but to attack, but with more of their players moving forward, space opened at the back for Germany to exploit. Eventually, Andersen was again the culprit as he misjudged Schlotterback’s long pass towards Musiala and then failed to track the young Bayern attacker. Musiala used his pace to get away and break one-on-one with Schmeichel, keeping his composure to double Die Manschaft’s lead.

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As Denmark threw their caution into the wind and went all-out to score a goal that would provide at least a bit of hope, they were open at the back more than ever, and they were lucky to remain two goals down when an excellent goal from Germany substitute Florian Wirtz got disallowed for offside.

At the very end, Denmark’s efforts became rather feeble, devoid of creative ideas, and even the 6’6″ Vestergaard moving upfront didn’t help.

The aftermath

Though things could’ve ended differently, Denmark won’t have too much to regret, leaving the Euros at this stage. They showed great character, spirit and tactical discipline to navigate through a difficult group and reach the round of 16, but at the end of the day, they simply didn’t have enough quality to find a place in the best eight teams in Europe.

Germany, on the other hand, do have that quality. Nagelsmann’s squad is brimming over with proven, experienced players who know how to win big games, and a few youthful talents to provide that element of unpredictability.

However, their job obviously isn’t done yet. Germany will face Spain or Georgia in the quarterfinals, and if they get through that as well, the semifinal showdown will see them pitted against one of Portugal, Slovakia, France or Belgium. There’s obviously a lot to deal with before they even start thinking about the final.

And yet, playing on their home soil, the hope is there, and it’s real. At least for now.


Veselin Trajkovic

Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on seven different football blogs.



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