Wales will be hoping to emulate their run to the semi-finals five years ago whereas Denmark are full of confidence after their emphatic win over Russia in the final group game.
Wales take on Denmark in the first knockout game of Euro 2020 at Johan Cruyff Arena on Friday. The first match of round of 16 promises to be a battle of equals. Wales made it to the last-16 as the second placed team from Group A behind Italy. Denmark finished second behind Group B winners Belgium. Meanwhile, Denmark is the first team in the history of the Euros to qualify for last-16 after losing first two games.
Wales started the campaign with an undeserving 1-1 draw against Switzerland. However, they bounced back to defeat Turkey 2-0 in a thrilling encounter. Although they lost the final group match 1-0 against Italy, Rob Page’s side did enough to secure the second spot. Meanwhile, Denmark had a topsy-turvy tournament so far. Kasper Hjulmand’s side lost their first Euro 2020 game 1-0 to Finland. The match at Parken was marred by Danish midfielder Christian Eriksen suffering a cardiac arrest
In their second group fixture, Denmark lost 2-1 to Belgium. In their last group match, Denmark thrashed Russia 4-1 to secure second spot in Group B above Finland on goal difference. It was an emotional night for the Danes. After seeing their team mate collapse, they qualified for the knockout stage for the first time since 2004.
It will be interesting to see what formation Wales boss Page deploys. In the first match, they played with three central defenders. Against Turkey, he surprised everyone with a 4-1-4-1 formation, a much more attacking setup. Meanwhile against Italy he went back to three at the back. Ethan Ampadu, who received a red card in the previous game will not be available.
Attack is the best form of defence. Wales could go for the win against Denmark rather than sit back and take the game deep. The Dragons have the firepower up front to get the result. The likes of captain Gareth Bale, Daniel James will be pivotal going forward. Both of them are one of the quickest in world football right now and Bale’s ability to convert half chances and create something out of nothing is known to everyone.
Kieffer Moore is expected to come back into the playing eleven after being on the bench in the previous game. The 1.96m tall striker is strong in the air and his ability to hold up play will allow the likes of Bale, James and Aaron Ramsey to play around him.
Juventus midfielder Ramsey, who scored the first goal against Turkey is going to be the fulcrum of midfield alongside Allen and Joe Morrell.
Leicester City goalkeeper Danny Ward who is having an excellent tournament will keep his place in goal with Chris Mepham and Joe Rodan infront of him at central defence. Connor Roberts and Ben Davies are going to be the wing-back’s. Neco Williams can come in if the caretaker manger decides to start with three at the back.
On the other hand, Hjulmand also has a full strength squad to choose from except Eriksen, who has flown back home and is recovering well. Therefore the Danes are unlikely to make any changes to the team that started against Russia. Kasper Schmeichel will occupy the goal with three central defenders in front of him- Kjaer, Vestergaard and Christensen. Daniel Wass and Joakim Maehle will be deployed at the wings.
Pierre Emile-Hojbjerg, who set up two goals against Russia and has registered three assists in the tournament so far is going to be the main man in the midfield along with Thomas Delaney. RB Leipzig’s Yussuf Poulsen, Martin Braithwaite and Damsgaard will form the three man forward line.
Denmark got the better of Wales in the UEFA Nations League fixtures in 2018. They are seven places above them in the FIFA World ranking. However, Wales has a bit more experience when it comes to Euro knockout. They reached the semi-finals in 2016 and will be aiming for a similar fairytale run this time around.