Team Profile: Denmark
- Coach: Morten Olsen
- Goalkeepers: Stephan Andersen (Brondby), Jesper Christiansen (Copenhagen), Thomas Sorensen, (Stoke/England)
- Defenders: Daniel Agger (Liverpool/England), Lars Jacobsen (Blackburn/England), William Kvist Jorgensen (Copenhagen), Simon Kjaer (Palermo/Italy), Per Kroldrup (Fiorentina/Italy), Patrick Mtiliga (Malaga/Spain), Simon Busk Poulsen (AZ Alkmaar/Netherlands )
- Midfielders: Mikkel Beckmann (Randers), Thomas Enevoldsen (Groningen/Sweden), Christian D. Eriksen (Ajax.Netherlands), Jesper Gronkjaer (Copenhagen), Daniel Jensen (Werder Bremen/Germany), Martin Jorgensen (Aarhus), Thomas Kahlenberg (Wolfsburg/Germany, Christian Poulsen (Juventus/Italy), Jakob Poulsen (Aarhus), Dennis Rommedahl (Ajax/Netherlands)
- Forwards: Nicklas Bendtner (Arsenal/England), Jon Dahl Tomasson (Feyenoord), Soren Larsen (Duisburg/Germany)
Style of play: Coach Morten Olsen very rarely strays from his favoured 4-3-3 formation, which stresses teamwork and organization over individual flair. That is not to say the Danes are conservative; they're constantly looking to open up the opposing defence, and make good use of their speedy wingers, Dennis Rommedahl and Jesper Gronkjaer, on the counterattack. Holding things together in the three-man midfield is Cristian Poulsen, while Daniel Jensen and William Kvist will venture forward in attack. Striker Nicklas Bendtner leads the attack, with Roomedahl and Tomasson playing on either side of him. If Olsen is to switch to another formation, it will be to 4-2-3-1 set-up with two wingers and Tomasson playing in a withdrawn role behind Bendtner.
1st round matches:
- June 14 vs. Netherlands in Johannesburg
- June 19 vs. Cameroon in Pretoria
- June 24 vs. Japan in Rustenburg
Projected starting lineup (4-3-3): (GK) Thomas Sorensen - (D) Simon Kjaer, Daniel Agger, Lars Jacobsen, Jakob Poulsen - (M) Christian Poulsen, Daniel Jensen, William Kvist - (F) Dennis Rommedahl, Nicklas Bendtner, Jon Dahl Tomasson
- Defence: Veteran right-back Lars Jacobsen anchors a stingy back line, while Simon Kjaer and Daniel Agger form one of the most unheralded central defensive pairings in international soccer. Opponents will have a tough time scoring against the Danes.
- Coaching: Morten Olsen has been in charge of Denmark's national team for 10 years. He is an experienced coach with a wealth of knowledge, and has the unqualified respect and admiration of his players.
- Team Spirit: Few gave Denmark much chance of emerging from a qualifying group that included Portugal and Sweden. But the Danes fooled everybody, winning six of 10 games (with only one loss) and playing consistent soccer to win the group ahead of the Portuguese and Swedes.
- Goal scoring: Youngster Nicklas Bendtner is the only world-class striker on the team - veteran Jon Dahl Tomasson has lost his scoring touch - so they would be in big trouble if they lose the Arsenal star to injury or suspension.
- The Sorensen Factor: Thomas Sorensen has been Denmark's starting goalkeeper since 2001, but he suffered an elbow injury in April, and there are serious doubts whether he will be fully fit by the start of the tournament.
- Tough opening game: Denmark's first match of the tournament in against the Netherlands, a tough opponent in a game that could make or break the Danes' chances of making through to the second round.
Players to watch:
- Nicklas Bendtner - Displaying good aerial prowess, Bendtner uses his six-foot-four-inch frame to full effect inside the penalty box. He also moves with great quickness for a player of his physical stature.
- Simon Kjaer - The 21-year-old displays the strength, balance and patience that many defenders don't acquire until later in their careers. A superstar in the making.
- Christian Poulsen - A defensive bulldog in the centre midfield, Poulsen is a hard-running and hard-tackling player who gives the Danish side a bit of grit and steel.
Key injuries/squad omissions: Starting goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen dislocated his elbow in April and might not be fully fit by the start of the tournament. Somewhat surprisingly, coach Morten Olsen opted to snub defender Michael Lumb and striker Mads Junker. Newcastle United's Peter Lovenkrands won't go to South Africa due to personal reasons. Olsen cut goalkeeper Kim Christensen, midfielders Michael Silberbauer, Michael Krohn-Dehli and striker Morten Rasmussen from his preliminary squad. Defender Simon Kjaer made the cut for Denmark but he was carried away on a stretcher with a knee injury during a recent friendly.
Prognosis: Second round or quarter-finals. The Danes will surprise a lot of people in South Africa, just as they did in the European qualifiers. Coach Morten Olsen has this team running at peak efficiency and with such a talented crop of players at his disposal, it's hard to imagine Denmark not getting out of the group stage - although the Netherlands and Cameroon will provide stiff opposition. Still, it wouldn't be at all out of the ordinary to see Denmark go on a nice little run and make it through to the quarter-finals.
ROAD TO SOUTH AFRICA
- Qualification route: Denmark finished in first place (21 points) in Europe's Group 1 ahead of Portugal (19 points)
- Key to qualification: Defence. Led by veteran Lars Jacobsen and youngster Simon Kjaer, the stout Danish defence, ably supported up by goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen (and backup Stephan Andersen), conceded a measly five goals in the qualifiers.
- Crucial result: A 1-0 win over Sweden (June 6, 2009 in Solna) gave the Danes a big three points on the road and firmly put them in the driver`s seat with three games to go.
- Qualifying record: 10 games played, 6 wins, 3 draws, 1 loss
- Goals for: 16
- Goals against: 5
- Top goal-scorer in qualifying: Soren Larsen (5)
Qualifying results: (home team listed first)
- Sept. 6, 2008 - Hungary 0, Denmark 0
- Sept. 10, 2008 - Portugal 2, Denmark 3
- Oct. 11, 2008 - Denmark 3, Malta 0
- March 28, 2009 - Malta 0, Denmark 3
- April 1, 2009 - Denmark 3, Albania 0
- June 6, 2009 - Sweden 0, Denmark 1
- Sept. 5, 2009 - Denmark 1, Portugal 1
- Sept. 9, 2009 - Albania 1, Denmark 1
- Oct. 10, 2009 - Denmark 1, Sweden 0
- Oct. 14, 2009 - Denmark 0, Hungary 1
- Number of World Cup appearances: 3
- All-time record: 13 games played, 7 wins, 2 draws, 4 losses
- Goals for: 24
- Goals against: 18
- Biggest victory: 6-1 vs. Uruguay in 1986
- Biggest defeat: 5-1 vs. Spain in 1986
- Overall top scorer: Preben Elkjær-Larsen and Jon Dahl Tomasson (4 goals)
- Most appearances: Michael Laudrup and Thomas Helveg (9 matches)
- Hosted the World Cup: Never
World Cup track record
- 1930-54 - Did not enter
- 1958 - Did not qualify
- 1962 - Did not enter
- 1966-82 - Did not qualify
- 1986 - Second round
- 1990 - Did not qualify
- 1994 - Did not qualify
- 1998 - Quarter-finals
- 2002 - Second Round
- 2006 - Did not qualify
- FIFA member since: 1904
- Team nickname: Danish Dynamite, Olsen's Eleven
- All-time caps leaders: Peter Schmeichel (129)
- All-time leading scorer: Poul Nielsen (52 goals)
- European Champions: 1992
- Confederations Cup Champions: 1995
- Olympic Silver Medal: 1908, 1912, 1960
- Olympic Bronze Medal: 1948
- Michael Laudrup: Laudrup had a brilliant career in the 1980s, highlighted by stints with Juventus, FC Barcelona, Real Madrid and Ajax. He is regarded as one of the most gifted playmakers of his era.
- Peter Schmeichel: Schmeichel was a legendary goalkeeper and a key figure in Manchester United's dynasty years of the 1990s. Recently retired, Schmeichel was renowned for his athleticism and making miraculous saves in penalty shot situations.