Denmark will be dreaming of following in the footsteps of the side who claimed a shock European title in 1992, but standing in their way of a semi-final place at Euro 2020 on Saturday are the Czech Republic, who have sent them packing before.
The Danes were in danger of an early exit after group-stage losses to Finland and Belgium, the first of which was overshadowed by star player Christian Eriksen suffering a cardiac arrest on the pitch.
But, roared on by a raucous Copenhagen crowd, they thrashed Russia 4-1 to finish second in Group B, before travelling to Amsterdam to thump Wales 4-0 in the last 16.
Denmark have not reached a major tournament semi-final since lifting the trophy 29 years ago, when they initially failed to qualify but were late replacements for Yugoslavia.
The Scandinavians have gone from strength to strength in the tournament and know victory in Azerbaijan would set up a last-four meeting with either England or Ukraine at Wembley.
Youngster Mikkel Damsgaard has shone since taking the place of Eriksen in the second group match, scoring a wonderful opening goal against Russia.
Hjulmand is expected to have a full squad to choose from, with the exception of Eriksen, although RB Leipzig forward Yussuf Poulsen may only be fit enough to play for an hour.
The last time Denmark reached a major quarter-final was at Euro 2004, where they were beaten 3-0 by a Czech Republic side inspired by Pavel Nedved and two goals for Milan Baros.
The Czechs produced an excellent display to beat the 10-man Netherlands 2-0 in Budapest last time out, but have expressed their frustrations about having to play in Baku.
A packed Puskas Arena, including 7,000 Czech fans, saw them beat the Dutch, but it will be far more difficult for supporters to travel to the Azerbaijani capital.
Jaroslav Silhavy’s men have reached the last eight at a major championship for the first time since 2004, when they lost to Greece in the semis, by conceding only two goals in four games while relying on in-form striker Patrik Schick.
The Bayer Leverkusen man has netted four times already, including one of the all-time great Euro goals against Scotland, to sit just one behind Cristiano Ronaldo in the race for the Golden Boot.
Schick is the only player still in the tournament to have scored four goals or more and is aiming to become the second Czech, after Baros, to finish as European Championship top-scorer.
Who’s saying what?
Petr Sevcik, Czech Republic midfielder
“You fly a distance like this to Baku only to play in front of an empty stadium, now that we saw the atmosphere in Budapest. We are all sad about it. But that’s how things are this year, we can’t do anything about it.”
Kasper Hjulmand, Denmark coach
“It’s a chance that we might never have again. It’s many years’ work for lots of people. We want to make the most of this chance.”
Mikkel Damsgaard, Denmark midfielder
“The match against Wales was the biggest of my career. The next match will be the biggest match I have ever played, so it’s getting even crazier all the time for me.”
Czech Republic vs Denmark H2H
Stats and Trivia
• Denmark’s last EURO quarter-final appearance ended in a 3-0 defeat by the Czech Republic, Jan Koller (49) and Milan Baroš (63, 65) getting the goals in Porto in the last eight of UEFA EURO 2004. That remains the Czechs’ biggest win in a EURO finals and Denmark’s joint heaviest defeat. Current Czech assistant coach Tomáš Galásek was in the side for that game while Jaroslav Šilhavý, now head coach, was an assistant.
• The Czech Republic/Czechoslovakia and Denmark have met on 25 previous occasions, the Czechs recording 13 wins and only two defeats. Five of the last six fixtures between the sides have ended all square, however, the exception a 3-0 Danish away win in Olomouc in qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in which Andreas Cornelius (57) and Simon Kjær (67) both scored their first goals for Denmark. Denmark’s only other victory against the Czechs was a 2-1 home success in 2002 World Cup qualifying.
• The Czech Republic have qualified for every EURO final tournament since Czechoslovakia split in 1993. They won the competition as part of Czechoslovakia in 1976 and reached the final in their first appearance as the Czech Republic in 1996, losing 2-1 to Germany. The Czech Republic also reached the semi-finals at UEFA EURO 2004 and the quarter-finals eight years later.
• This is Denmark’s ninth appearance in the UEFA European Championship, but only their second in the past four editions. They were eliminated in the group stage at UEFA EURO 2012, finishing third in their section behind Germany and Portugal with three points from three games.
• Czechoslovakia/the Czech Republic have won four of their five EURO quarter-finals, although they lost the last, against Portugal at UEFA EURO 2012 (0-1). They had previously beaten Romania in 1960 (2-0 a, 3-0 h), the Soviet Union in 1976 (2-0 h, 2-2 a), Portugal in 1996 (1-0) and Denmark in 2004 (3-0).
• Denmark are one of five teams to have reached UEFA EURO 2020 unbeaten along with Belgium, Italy – who both won every game, runs they extended at the final tournament into their quarter-final meeting in Munich – Spain and Ukraine. They are the only one of the five who did not top their qualifying group.
• Patrik Schick has scored the Czech Republic’s other four goals at UEFA EURO 2020, taking his overall international tally to 15 in 30 matches. He also found the net in the team’s final pre-tournament warm-up fixture, a 3-1 win against Albania in Prague on 8 June, so, after drawing a blank in the 1-0 defeat by England, has five in his last five matches.
• Denmark became the first team in EURO final tournament history to score four goals in successive matches as they followed up their 4-1 win over Russia on Matchday 3 with a 4-0 victory against Wales in the round of 16. However, two days later Spain eclipsed that record by scoring five goals for the second EURO game running.
With AFP and Uefa inputs
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