England play what is, on paper at least, their toughest challenge in Group C on Thursday night. Here, we take a look at the threat Denmark could carry in their Euro 2024 meeting.

England are top of Group C heading into Matchday 2, having beaten Serbia in Gelsenkirchen on Sunday night. However, an unconvincing performance in attack has left some questioning if Gareth Southgate needs to mix things up next time out.

Euro 2020 semi-final opponents Denmark are up next in what should be England’s toughest test of the group stage.

Before the tournament, the Opta supercomputer deemed Denmark the second-most likely Group C team to qualify for the knockout stages behind England, and given they took Southgate’s side to extra-time – where they were only beaten by a rebound from a missed Harry Kane penalty – there is good reason to predict they will provide stern opposition this time around, too.

Denmark put in their own mixed performance in their first game of the Euros, drawing 1-1 with Slovenia, but there’s still no questioning they have the quality in their ranks to hurt England.

So, where exactly might they do just that in Thursday’s meeting in Frankfurt?


This Denmark team carry plenty of attacking threat, but they are far from the most free-scoring side at the Euros. When they win, it tends to be by a narrow margin; they scored 19 goals in their 10 Euro 2024 qualifying matches, including a 2-1 win over minnows San Marino. They also scored just twice against the Faroe Islands in a friendly in March.

They don’t create tonnes of chances, but do have the quality to keep the ball in good positions high up the pitch for significant periods. Simply by doing that and moving the opposition around the pitch, they end up winning set-pieces close to the opposition’s goal – and they are effective at making the most of them, too.

Of all teams in qualifying, only Portugal, Slovakia and Poland (all 48) had more shots from set-piece situations than Denmark (47), who generated 3.5 expected goals from set-pieces alone.

denmark xG at set-pieces in Euro 2024 qualifying

Their strength at set-pieces is also apparent at the other end of the pitch. They conceded chances from set-pieces worth just 0.8 xG in their 10 qualifiers, making their expected goal difference from set-pieces (+2.7) the second best of every team who qualified.

In their first game at Euro 2024, too, set-pieces played a key role. Christian Eriksen created seven chances from set plays against Slovenia, the most by any player in a European Championship match since Gary McAllister in 1992 for Scotland against Germany (eight).

Denmark’s only goal of the game also came from a set-piece, with Eriksen finishing off after Jonas Wind’s flick from a quickly taken throw-in. And their goal against England in their Euro 2020 meeting was a Mikkel Damsgaard free-kick.

England will need to stay switched on whenever the ball goes out of play for a Denmark dead ball.

A Stubborn Defence

Having thrown away a lead and dropped points against Slovenia, Denmark head into the England match knowing they could do with a win, but also probably fearing a defeat that would do serious damage to their hopes of making it out of the group. A draw wouldn’t be ideal but it also wouldn’t be the end of the world, so focusing on keeping a clean sheet may be the priority.

Denmark don’t concede many chances, averaging just 0.5 xG against per game in their qualifying games – the fourth-lowest of all teams involved. England’s talented attackers found it difficult to break Serbia down on Sunday, and patience from some sections of the fanbase might start to wear thin if they don’t play to their full potential and create more clear-cut goalscoring chances this time out.

It may then be that frustrating England is Denmark’s best chance of success.

England have never won both of their opening two matches at a European Championship tournament, and their performance against Serbia won’t have scared Denmark all that much. They managed just 12 touches in Serbia’s box, their lowest total in a European Championship game since 2012 against Ukraine.

England have also scored just three goals in their last four games against Denmark, and the two they scored in the Euro 2020 semi-final were an own goal and the aforementioned rebound from Kane’s missed penalty. The Danes have a decent record of shutting England out.

It could be that their hopes could rest on how solid they are defensively. The longer they hold out, the more frustrated and disheartened England will become, which will only benefit Denmark on the night.

Christian Eriksen

Three years on from his cardiac arrest at Euro 2020, Eriksen is back on the big stage at the European Championship and looked in Denmark’s first game of this year’s edition like he is still more than capable of performing at this level.

As well as creating seven chances (three more than any other player at Euro 2024 so far) against Slovenia, the Manchester United midfielder had five shots (the joint most of all players at Euro 2024), also scoring Denmark’s only goal of the game. He completed 88% of his passes despite occupying advanced spaces and won three free-kicks (and we’ve already seen how dangerous Denmark are at dead balls).

Christian Eriksen touches vs Slovenia

One of Southgate’s concerns after the Serbia game may be the out-of-possession discipline and game understanding of Trent Alexander-Arnold – a right-back playing out of position in central midfield. It wasn’t as if Serbia were able to make anything of any deficiencies in England’s game in this part of the pitch, but the Liverpool man was twice caught on the ball, and he won possession just once all game – the lowest of all England outfielders.

Having gone for Alexander-Arnold in midfield, it’s unlikely that Southgate will change his mind so soon, and while there are clear in-possession benefits to having him in midfield, Eriksen might spot an opportunity when his team have the ball.

It’s easy to imagine Eriksen drifting off Alexander-Arnold’s shoulder to receive the ball between the lines and feed balls into Wind or Rasmus Højlund. Eriksen played four line-breaking passes against Slovenia, all of which were played in the final third of the pitch.

Christian Eriksen line-breaking passes

Fortunately for England they have one of the best ball-winning midfielders in the world in Declan Rice, and Eriksen will have to be at his very best to escape the Arsenal man’s attentions.

Southgate’s side are rightly favourites going into this game, but having run England close three years ago at Wembley, Denmark have no reason to fear their opponents on Thursday. This one is far from a foregone conclusion.

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