UEFA Euro 2020

Denmark just might be on the path to emulating miracle of 1992

Max Parsons
Denmark's players will already be considered heroes, but can they go all the way?
Denmark's players will already be considered heroes, but can they go all the way? / Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images

Euro 2020 could not have started in a worse manner for Denmark. Putting aside the football, talisman Christian Eriksen's collapse on the pitch in their opening fixture against Finland shocked the whole footballing world.

Predictably, the rest of that match did not go Denmark's way, eventually falling to a 1-0 defeat, and despite going 1-0 up within two minutes, their matchday two fixture with Belgium resulted in a 2-1 loss.

No team had ever progressed past the group stage having lost their opening two group games.

But Denmark's inspired 4-1 mauling of Russia in their final game sent them through to the last 16 as Group B runners-up. A fighting, thrilling and beautiful display was the tribute to Eriksen that all would have wished to see.

They were certainly fuelled by that feat in their round of 16 tie with Wales. Kasper Hjulmand proved his tactical nous, the Denmark squad further exemplified their spirit and quality, and Euro 2020 spectators shuffled in their chairs a little to take notice as they thrashed the Dragons 4-0.

The performance begged the question: can the Danes really make this fairytale happen?

Well, they certainly have a history of footballing miracles. Denmark's Euro 1992 campaign is one of the ultimate footballing underdog stories. Qualifying for the tournament solely through Yugoslavia's UN-enforced absence, you can safely assume the nation were simply thrilled to be there.

And starting with a well-earned 0-0 draw with much-fancied England, spirits were high. A 1-0 defeat to hosts Sweden on matchday two dampened the mood somewhat but matchday three's crunch clash with a France side containing Eric Cantona, Jean-Pierre Papin, Didier Deschamps and Laurent Blanc (among others) resulted in a surprise 2-1 victory, sealing their passage to the last four of the tournament.

Jean-Philippe Durand, John Jensen
Denmark's John Jensen tracks France's Jean-Philippe Durand / Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

As we know, underdogs are there to upset the favourites. A star-studded Netherlands side tasted defeat to Denmark after a penalty shootout - with Marco Van Basten, of all people, missing the crucial spot-kick - meaning Denmark, who were never supposed to been be there, had made the final.

John Jensen's first international goal opened the scoring in the first half, before Kim Vilfort's late strike sealed a shock 2-0 victory over a Germany squad built of born winners. A strong and collective Denmark, whose spine consisted of the likes of Peter Schmeichel, John Sivebaek, Lars Olsen, Brian Laudrup and Henrik Larsen, had defied the odds and lifted the Euro 1992 trophy.

Nearly 30 years later, it's still very much a long shot - and probably even more unlikely. The favourites of this summer's tournament boast squads littered with outrageous quality but, after what happened on matchday one, Denmark have demonstrated that very few have as much grit, determination and spirit as them.

Kasper Schmeichel
Kasper Schmeichel celebrates after progressing to the quarter-final of Euro 2020 / Peter Dejong - Pool/Getty Images

Their tactically adept manager proved his worth against Wales as his players dominated and blew their opposition away and, led by Euro 1992-winning goalkeeper's son Kasper Schmeichel, the Danes look just as inspired and hungry as anyone in with a shout of finding glory this summer. With two generations of the same family in goal for both teams, there is an undeniably great story to be written, too; the stars could be aligning for something special.

It's hugely unlikely, but can Denmark really make this footballing fairytale happen? Well, it's football; anything can happen.