Euro 2022 Team Preview: Denmark- The Young and the Talented
Team photo of Denmark's women's football team. Photo: dbulandshold twitter
A second-place finish in 2017 isn’t the Euros anyone had dreamed of for Denmark. To most people, they came out of nowhere riding the coattails of a world-class Pernille Harder determined to win a major tournament. Though at the last moment they fell short to the host country, The Netherlands. But Denmark nonetheless returned home as heroes. People lined the streets to welcome the runners-up, the media took notice, and the players realized they could make a change.
October 20, 2017, was supposed to be gameday in Sweden, alas that didn’t happen and Sweden walked away with three goals and three points in a crucial World Cup qualifying match. Why would Denmark forfeit a World Cup qualifying match? It’s simple, they knew that they were worth so much more than what the federation was giving them. So they went on strike and risked not qualifying for the World Cup to change things for the better in Denmark, so future girls could have better opportunities than they got. That was the story of the 2017 Euros. A story of a dark horse team who took home the silver medal and used that to their advantage to change things for the better. This time is going to be different.
Everyone knows who Denmark is. Pernille Harder is no longer this up-and-coming player at Wolfsburg that was only starting to get the recognition she deserves; she’s the most expensive women’s player ever. More stars have started to pop up from this Denmark team such as Sofie Svava, and Signe Brunn. Nadia Nadim recently became famous not for her football but for becoming a doctor and doing it all while playing professional football. Denmark is an interesting team full of young up-and-coming players. If these players can rise to the occasion Denmark could go very far; the team can’t just ride on the coattails of Pernille Harder anymore. While Harder is still one of the best players in the world and maybe one of the best to ever play the game, everyone knows who she is and they are going to be making it as hard as they possibly can for her, leaving the rest of the team to rise to the occasion. Denmark has the team that could do it, but their inexperience could let them down.
Goalkeepers: Lene Christensen (Rosenborg), Laura Worsoe (Odense Q), Katrine Svane (AGF)
Defenders: Stine Ballisager Pedersen (Valerenga), Simone Boye (Arsenal), Luna Gevitz (Hacken), Sara Holmgaard (Turbine Potsdam), Rikke Sevecke (Everton), Sofie Svava (Real Madrid), Sara Thrige (AC Milan), Katrine Veje (Rosengard)
Midfielders: Karen Holmgaard (Turbine Potsdam), Kathrine Kühl (Nordsjaelland), Sofie Junge Pedersen (Juventus), Sanne Troelsgaard (Reading)
Forwards: Sofie Bredgaard (Rosengard), Signe Bruun (Lyon), Mille Gejl (Hacken), Pernille Harder (Chelsea), Stine Larsen (Hacken), Rikke Marie Madsen (Madrid CFF), Nadia Nadim (Racing Louisville), Janni Thomsen (Valerenga)
Denmark might not have as many stars as the other major teams but that doesn’t mean they don’t have good players, their players are just often overlooked. But there were a few notable Danish players who where left off of the roster. First being Real Madrid’s Caroline Møller Hansen. After scoring a hattrick in the Champions League against Breiðablik which included this beautiful goal that she expertly brought down and then shot it far post, she announced her name to the big screen. People all of a sudden knew who she was and she continued to start quite a bit in Real Madrid’s midfield due to Kosovare Asllani being out to injury for a large part of the year. But alas her efforts weren’t good enough in the end and she didn’t make the final squad.
The next is Matilde Lundorf, a defender at Juventus. Lundorf’s story is very similar to that of her good friend and Juventus teammate Amanda Nildén. Both players met playing for Brighton in the WSL and now both are at Juventus. Lundorf is one of those players with a fascinating story. She spent one year of her youth career in Paris Saint-Germain's academy and was capped for the Denmark u-19 team 25 times. At just 23 she’s already starting to make a name for herself at Juventus having only been there for two seasons and having 32 appearances with their stacked backline.
The last player that was a surprise to see missing from the 23 is West Ham’s Emma Snerle. She’s a midfielder with loads of experience from playing so many years for Fortuna Hjørring in the Danish league. At the start of 2022, she garnered herself a move to midtable WSL side West Ham. At only 21 she’s already been capped 22 times for the senior national team. Having featured in a lot of recent games it seemed like she was almost a shoo-in for the squad, but it appears the coach, Lars Søndergaard, prefers other players.
Denmark will most likely play in a 4-3-3, but the main question will be if Pernille Harder will play in her best position as a 10 or will she play on the wings. As well Nadia Nadim is a huge question since she just came back from an ACL tear.
Best IX: Lene Christensen, Katrine Veje, Rikke Sevecke, Stine Ballisager Pedersen, Sofie Svava, Sanne Troelsgaard, Sofie Junge Pedersen, Pernille Harder, Janni Thomsen, Nadia Nadim, Rikke Marie Madsen
Predicted XI: Lene Christensen, Katrine Veje, Rikke Sevecke, Stine Ballisager Pedersen, Janni Thomsen, Sofie Junge Pedersen, Sanne Troelsgaard, Pernille Harder, Rikke Marie Madsen, Signe Brunn, Sofie Svava
The only changes from the best possible IX to the predicted IX would be Bruun playing instead of Nadim, and Svava playing in defense instead of as a forward which allows Thomsen to play as a forward instead of a defender. First off Nadim just came back from an injury but she is Denmark’s best striker. This has allowed Bruun to take over that spot. It’s likely Nadim won’t be 100% back to her old self yet so Bruun will start. Svava is world-class no matter where she plays on the left, but Denmark’s defense has always looked a bit shaky and Svava has bounds of experience playing as a left-back, plus Thomsen is an amazing player who does better as a forward than a defender, so moving Svava back to defense allows Thomsen to move to the attack. Veje has been on an insane form for Rosengard lately and could seamlessly switch from left to right-back, this would give Denmark a little more leadership on that right side as well. With Thomsen moving to right-wing then Madsen would just have to move to left-wing a place she is pretty familiar with playing.
Janni Thomsen celebrating after scoring against Brazil. Photo: dbulandshold twitter
Player to watch
The player to watch from Denmark is probably one many people have never even heard of unless they watched Denmark’s most recent game against Brazil where she scored a belter of a goal. This is Janni Thomsen, a winger who can also play as a full back mostly on the right side. Currently, she plays for Vålerenga in the Norwegian Toppserien mostly as a winger but last season she was utilized quite frequently as a right back. She’s been arguably the best player in the Toppserien so far this season, so much so that she was named player of the month in May and has been in 6 teams of the rounds only second to Rosenborg’s Emilie Joramo who has been in 7. So far she’s scored six goals and assisted five very impressive numbers from someone who doesn’t only play as a forward. For Denmark, she has been starting at right-back and it is looking like she will be their starting right back for the tournament, so she’ll be one to keep an eye on.
Everyone knows Pernille Harder as they should. She is the star and will probably continue to be the star for many years. It’s extremely hard to ignore her talent. She’s the one player that can change a game in an instant, carry a team, lead a team, and do pretty much whatever is needed of her in the moment. In Denmark and at Wolfsburg she is given full freedom to operate in whatever way she wishes. While her move to Chelsea made her the most expensive player ever, it might actually be hurting her career. At Chelsea, they don’t give her anything even remotely close to full freedom. She isn’t even close to being a star at Chelsea. Had she stayed at Wolfsburg or gone pretty much anywhere else besides Barcelona she would still be putting up the insane goal tallies that she was for Wolfsburg. Likely would have won more individual awards too. But Harder thought moving to Chelsea was the best decision for her and has opened a new aspect to her game, one where she doesn’t have to be the star. As a huge fan of who Harder used to be, I look forward to a tournament where she gets to take that spotlight back and be the star that we all know she is capable of being.
Sofie Bredgaard training for Denmark. Photo: dbulandshold twitter
The name Sofie Bredgaard probably triggers even fewer memories than Janni Thomsen does. It was a bit of a shock to see she had made the roster but it’s a very deserving selection. With only one cap for the national team prior to the tournament, she is the most recent addition to the Denmark national team. Following Pernille Harder’s footsteps, she joined the Swedish side Linköping when she was just 18. After only being there for two seasons she attracted the attention of Swedish giants Rosengard. At Linköping she was such a fun player to watch, one people couldn’t wait to see in the future. Now at Rosengard, she’s even more of a future talent. In just 13 appearances she’s already scored 5 goals, most of these appearances coming from the bench. She might be young and have little experience but she will be a star one day.
Denmark was drawn into the group of death as most people like to call it. Germany, Spain, and Finland are all going to be hard sides to meet, but Denmark can rise to the challenge. With Spain’s sudden and sad loss of Alexia Putellas, to an ACL injury, makes the group seem a little less scary than it was but Denmark could pull through even with a fully fit Alexia. Germany seemed out of form for a bit there but their recent performance against Switzerland where they won 7-0 makes it seem like they are back in form and will be a force to be reckoned with for Denmark. Spain beat Denmark 3-0 back on June 15, 2021, but Denmark has had a lot of time to improve since then. Finland should be an easy win for Denmark and everyone else in the group, but that doesn’t mean Finland couldn’t cause an upset. Being able to have an organized defense means that Finland could play in a low block and cause a draw. It seems likely that Denmark will take second in the group due to the fact that Germany and Spain aren’t super consistent and could easily lose a match where Denmark is much more consistent in their performances.
Finishing second in the 2017 Euros there’s no reason why the Danes couldn’t do it again since they have an even better squad than they had in 2017. It will be a hard road to the final but Denmark has a squad that is capable of making it, the younger players just have to step up.