Preview: Denmark vs. Sweden

In their first of two all-Scandinavian friendlies, Euro 2024-bound Denmark take on Sweden at the Parken Stadium in Copenhagen on Wednesday evening.

While Kasper Hjulmand’s side are putting the final touches on their European Championship preparations, their visitors will not be gunning for continental glory this summer.

Match preview

Despite being pushed to the brink by an ever-improving Slovenia side in Euro 2024 qualifying Group H, Denmark pipped their counterparts to the first-placed post by virtue of a superior head-to-head record, having matched the Slovenians’ tally of 22 points from 10 matches.

Hjulmand’s men actually finished with an inferior goal difference to their foes, but the tie-breakers soon paled into insignificance as Denmark and Slovenia were drawn into the same Euros section, being housed in Group C alongside Serbia and 2021 runners-up England.

The Danes have a bone to pick with the latter in particular, having suffered a gut-wrenching extra-time defeat to England in the Euro 2020 semi-finals, but friendly clashes with Nordic colleagues Sweden and Norway (June 8) take precedence before their short trip to Germany.

Qualification had already been assured by the time that the 1992 European champions went down 2-0 to Northern Ireland in their final preliminary encounter, but their defensive record in 2024 so far is unblemished, drawing 0-0 with Switzerland and sinking the Faroe Islands 2-0 in March’s double-header.

Speaking of noteworthy rearguard feats, it has been almost exactly seven years since Denmark last conceded a goal in a home friendly – keeping an astounding 11 clean sheets on the bounce since a 1-1 draw with Germany in June 2017 – while their last exhibition defeat on familiar turf came all the way back in 2015 to France.

Such statistics make for highly unpleasant reading for a Sweden side who flattered to deceive in their Euro 2024 qualifying section, culminating in a tally of just 10 points from 24 on offer as they witnessed Austria and Belgium storm to the automatic qualification places.

The Blue and Yellow did not have a Nations League playoff safety net to fall back on either, meaning that they will not be present at the European Championships for the first time since 1996 this summer, and a new face has been tasked with restoring order.

Sweden’s dismal qualification campaign led to the departure of long-serving boss Janne Andersson and the appointment of former Blackburn Rovers head coach Jon Dahl Tomasson, the first ever non-Swede to take charge of the Blue and Yellow men’s team and one who will seek to earn a surprise scalp over his country of birth this Wednesday.

Tomasson was given a baptism of fire on his first assignment, a 5-2 beating at the hands of Portugal on March 21, but he did not have to wait much longer for his opening triumph, masterminding a 1-0 victory over Albania courtesy of Gustaf Nilsson’s winner.

A 108th meeting with familiar foes Denmark now awaits for the Blue and Yellow, who hold the slight head-to-head edge with 46 successes compared to 41 for the Red and Whites, although their most recent encounter in a November 2020 friendly ended 2-0 to the Euro 2020 semi-finalists.

Team News

After rebuilding his Premier League career following his distressing collapse at Euro 2020, Manchester United’s Christian Eriksen will be part of his country’s troupe at Euro 2024 and is by far and away the most prolific player in the squad, netting 40 goals for his nation.

Red Devils colleague Rasmus Hojlund will certainly be chasing his teammate down in that regard for years to come, and the only uncapped player in Denmark’s final 26-man squad – goalkeeper Mads Hermansen – also plies his trade in England with Leicester City.

However, Celtic midfield maestro Matt O’Riley was controversially omitted from Hjulmand’s selection, as were Philip Billing, Jesper Lindstrom and Martin Braithwaite, the latter of whom started all of the Red and Whites’ games at Euro 2020, scoring once in their last-16 thumping of Wales.

Likewise, Sweden are also without a celebrated centre-forward of their own in Sporting Lisbon hotshot Viktor Gyokeres, who caught the eye of Arsenal and Chelsea with an incredible first season in Portugal but has now been ruled out for several weeks due to a knee operation.

Thankfully for Tomasson, Newcastle United’s Alexander Isak is a highly competent alternative, and the 24-year-old could receive support from two of his Premier League colleagues in Nottingham Forest’s Anthony Elanga and Tottenham Hotspur’s Dejan Kulusevski.

Ex-Arsenal starlet Kristoffer Olsson is of course absent after being hospitalised earlier this year due to blood clots on the brain, while defensive duo Linus Wahlqvist and Eric Smith have withdrawn from the squad too.

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