Denmark marched into the quarter-finals of Euro 2020 in impressive fashion this evening, thrashing Wales 0-4 in Amsterdam. The result was only what Denmark deserved, as they largely outclassed Wales in what was expected to be a close game.
Wales actually started off brighter, with Gareth Bale looking menacing on the right side of the pitch and opening up the Denmark defence on a couple of occasions. However, a smart tactical switch after about 15 minutes completely nullified the influence of the Tottenham loanee, and from there, the match was all Denmark.
The Danes opened the scoring through a beautiful Kasper Dolberg finish on 27 minutes. And despite Wales having half-time to regroup, a second goal from Dolberg – albeit a controversial one – quickly doubled Denmark’s lead on 48 minutes.
Robert Page’s side worked hard to attempt to get themselves back into the game, but simply couldn’t find a way through. And their exit from the tournament was thoroughly confirmed when Joakim Maehle and Martin Braithwaite scored Denmark’s third and fourth goals on either side of a harsh red card for Harry Wilson.
Here are five talking points from Denmark’s 0-4 win over Wales.
#1 Wales’ bright start was undone by a tactical switch from Denmark
It’d probably be surprising to someone who didn’t watch this match to learn that Wales actually started off the much brighter side.
Early on, at least, Denmark didn’t seem to have much of an answer for Gareth Bale’s attacking raids down the right-hand side. He opened up the Danish defence on more than one occasion, and while Wales didn’t score, they looked the much more likely side to do so.
However, with around fifteen minutes gone, Denmark boss Kasper Hjulmand made a brilliant tactical switch that changed the game entirely. He pulled Andreas Christensen out of Denmark’s three-man defence, set him to practically man-mark Aaron Ramsey, and dropped wing-backs Jens Stryger Larsen and Joakim Maehle slightly deeper to form a four-man defence.
The change was immediate. With Ramsey now out of the game, a combination of Maehle and defensive midfielders Thomas Delaney and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg began to prevent Bale’s raids down the right. And in turn, Wales were reduced to pumping long balls to Kieffer Moore that failed to make an impact.
From there, the game was essentially won by Denmark.
#2 Mikkel Damsgaard did a great job of replacing Christian Eriksen
Many observers felt that Denmark’s chances of having an impressive Euro 2020 vanished when creative hub Christian Eriksen suffered his shocking cardiac arrest in his side’s opening game with Finland two weeks ago.
However, after struggling to make a mark against Belgium, Sampdoria’s Mikkel Damsgaard has stepped into Eriksen’s role and is doing a fantastic job.
Today’s game was another example of that. Kasper Dolberg’s finish for the opening goal was wonderful, but it was made by Damsgaard’s run and pass.
The 20-year old was menacing throughout the game until he was withdrawn – likely with the quarter-final in mind – on 60 minutes. But he still managed to end the game with an impressive 83% pass success rate, and made three key passes – more than any other player on the pitch.
Damsgaard obviously lacks the top-level experience of Eriksen, but on this form, he’s definitely a worthy replacement for the Inter Milan man. And if he can continue to play this way in the quarter-finals, then a big-money move is likely for him in the summer.