Danes, Dutch open 'Group of Death'
Kharkiv, Ukraine (Sports Network) - Denmark is considered an afterthought in the "Group of Death" at Euro 2012, but that position is something the country is used to in major competitions.
A late addition to Euro 1992 for Yugoslavia, Denmark went on to win the title. Although a repeat performance is not likely this summer in Poland and Ukraine, it would be foolish to rule out the Danes.
Coach Morten Olsen admitted Denmark will need "a little more luck than others" to escape Group B, but a surprise win over the Netherlands on Saturday in the group opener would open the door to a knockout berth.
Of course, a win against the Netherlands, the 2010 World Cup runner-up and one of the favorites in Euro 2012, is not easy.
The Dutch will enter the match at Metalist Stadium as the clear favorite, both to beat the Danes and to be one of the teams to advance from the group, which also features Germany and Portugal.
Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk believed his team should be confident following a great World Cup two years ago, but even with the majority of the players still the same, it still had to produce on the field.
"I've always said that you have to bring the experience of the World Cup with you, and it has to be a motivation for the European Championship," Van Marwijk said.
"We are a bit more experienced, but that can also be a danger as laziness can creep in, which is something we've discussed. We just have to reach that level once again, and everyone realizes that."
The Dutch, with Robin Van Persie, Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder - and others - are the more talented side, and Van Marwijk thought his side could exploit the Danes' defense.
"We have to be smart and put pressure on them when the time is right. It can be done as their defense is not quite as strong as their attack," he said.
The Netherlands defeated Denmark, 2-0, when the teams opened their 2010 World Cup campaigns against each other.
"They might just be one of the favorites for the entire tournament," Olsen said, "so of course they are favorites against us as well. I'm not to say that we will be giving up in advance - we will take every chance we get."
Denmark has some questions in defense ahead of the opener, as Andreas Bjelland and Simon Kjaer are both battling to start alongside Daniel Agger in central defense.
"It's all positive having competition," Kjaer said. Olsen added: "We need more than just 11 players."