FC Tucson is running a series on all 12 soccer teams training and playing in Tucson during FC Tucson SoccerFest (10 MLS clubs and two international squads). We’re calling it the “Get to know…” series. While each post only scratches the surface of everything you need to know about every club, for the casual soccer fan, or non soccer fan, these posts will provide you enough to hold your own during a soccer conversation in the stands. It beats awkward small talk about the weather. Today we get to know Denmark.
By H. Jose Bosch
Founded: 1889, FIFA affiliated 1904, UEFA affiliated 1954
Official team site: http://www.dbu.dk/ (You’re going to need Google translate. Unless you speak Danish).
Home field: Parken Stadium (While the Danes play many friendlies at various stadia across the country, Parken is still home for all international qualifying matches for UEFA and the World Cup or major friendlies).
Top players: Daniel Agger, Lars Jacobsen, Ncklas Bendtner, Dennis Rommedahl (above)
Top blogs: English-language blogs on the National Danish Team don’t exist (at least we couldn’t find any). But if you just have to stay up to date on all things Danish National Team, the country’s official website given above is a great place to go. Just one click of a button from Google translate and you’ll know everything you need to know about Danish soccer.
Supporters group: The Roligans (http://www.roligan.dk/shop/frontpage.html) If you want to look like a roligan for the Canada-Denmark match, this is the site to visit.
Supporters group fun fact: The term “roligan” is actually a word pun based on the word “rolig” which means “calm” in Danish. The “roligan” movement was intended to combat the hooliganism that ran rampant in soccer through the 1980s. Because of Danish football fans’ cheerful and well-mannered behavior, the name stuck.
Highlight video you’ll want to share: Far be it from us to begin the debate of “Who has the best fans?” But the send off Denmark received just before Euro 2012 was awesome: a flash mob (well, kind of) at the airport with fans singing the Danish national anthem.
Past: Denmark’s early years were very successful as the team won an unofficial gold medal at the 1906 Olympics and official silver medals in the 1908 and 1912 Olympics. Denmark then went 36 years without entering an international competition until 1948, when it won bronze at the Olympics in London. Another long drought followed before Denmark won another silver medal (the country’s last Olympic medal) in the 1960 Olympics.
Due to its strict rules on amateurism (professionals were not allowed to play on the national team) Denmark remained irrelevant on the international scene through the 1960s and ‘70s. But by 1978 the Danish domestic league and the national team were allowed to have professionals and that change set up the country’s most fruitful years of competition.
They would be known as the “Danish Dynamite.” Despite not winning a single trophy in the 1980s, this squad entertained soccer fans with its attacking style reminiscent of the Dutch teams in the mid ‘70s. To end a 20-year international tournament drought, the Danish Dynamite defeated England at Wembley Stadium to qualify for the 1984 Euros. That tournament ended in heartbreaking fashion when Preben Elkjaer missed a penalty kick and Denmark lost to Spain in the semifinals.
The Danish Dynamite then qualified for the 1986 World Cup and immediately took advantage of its first World Cup appearance by sweeping it’s group stage matches by a combined score of 9-1. Denmark faced Spain again in a knockout stage match and his time Denmark didn’t lose in heartbreaking fashion. They were blown out 5-1.
Despite momentum from the ’84 Euros and the ’86 World Cup, Denmark failed to qualify for the 1988 Euros, the ’88 Olympics and the 1990 World Cup.
It appeared that 1992 would be another year of disappointment when Denmark failed to qualify for the Euros again. But when Yugoslavia was barred from the tournament just 10 days before it was to begin, Denmark took its place and never looked back. Denmark finished ahead of England and France in the group stage to reach the semifinals. Then the Danes defeated the ’88 Euro champion Dutch team in the semifinals on penalties. The dream run finished with a 2-0 win over the reigning 1990 World Cup-champion West Germany in the final.
The 1992 Euro championship is the country’s most significant international trophy.
Present: Outside of winning the 1995 Confederations Cup, Denmark hasn’t come close to winning an international trophy since the 1992 Euros. But that doesn’t mean the team hasn’t been competitive. Current manager Morten Olsen has been in charge since 2000, an impressive (and ongoing) 13-year reign as the Danish manager. Outside of Sepp Piontek, who managed the Danish Dynamite, no other manager has been as successful as Olsen. Of the six major international tournaments that have taken place during his time, Olsen has qualified for four of them.
Denmark’s last international competition was Euro 2012, where the squad failed to get out of the “group of death” which also had Germany, Portugal and the Netherlands. (Al four teams were ranked in the FIFA Top 10 entering the tournament). Denmark provided one of the big upsets of Euro ‘12 when it beat the Netherlands 1-0 in the opening match of the group.
But despite Denmark’s solid play, it dropped its next two matches to Portugal (2-3) and Germany (1-2) to bow out. In both matches, Denmark gave up the game-winner in the 80th minute or later.
Today Denmark is in the middle of 2014 World Cup qualification. At the moment the Danes are in fifth place out of six teams in the group after three matches thanks to a 0-1-2 record. They still have seven matches remaining, all to be played in 2013. The team who finishes first in the group qualifies for the World Cup while the second place team has a chance at reaching the World Cup through a playoff.
Denmark, who is currently ranked 23rd in the world by FIFA, will play its next World Cup qualifying match on March 23. So the beginning of 2013 is a chance for Olsen to evaluate who his best XI are to make up ground in the group stage. With Italy (No. 4) the only country ranked higher than Denmark in the group, Olsen will have little excuse to not finish in the top two.
Previous “Get to Know…” posts:
Get to know … Canada