Saints at the Euros: Jannik Vestergaard


Our series of previews featuring the Southampton quartet set to represent their countries at EURO 2020 starts with Denmark’s Jannik Vestergaard…

One of only five countries to qualify for this summer’s tournament unbeaten, Denmark won four and drew four of their meetings with Switzerland, Republic of Ireland, Georgia and Gibraltar, securing their place with a 1-1 draw in Dublin on the final matchday.

Perhaps the most eye-catching result was a 3-3 draw against group winners Switzerland, who led 3-0 until the final six minutes as the Danes mounted an improbable late comeback in their Group D opener.

Due to the delayed staging of the Euros, that game was more than two years ago now. Since then, Denmark have taken four points from England, including victory at Wembley, to finish second behind Belgium in a competitive Nations League group, and begun their World Cup qualifying campaign with three wins out of three.

Helped by home advantage in all three group games, Denmark will fancy their chances of progressing from Group B.

Belgium are favourites to win the section, but even by finishing second, Denmark would likely avoid a big hitter in the last 16.

There is a genuine chance of a quarter-final berth for the Danes, who famously won the competition in 1992, but must avoid any slip ups against major tournament debutants Finland, and a Russia side who performed so well at their own World Cup three years ago.

Saturday 12th June

Denmark vs Finland

Parken Stadium, Copenhagen

BBC, 5pm BST

Thursday 17th June

Denmark vs Belgium

Parken Stadium, Copenhagen

ITV, 5pm BST

Monday 21st June

Russia vs Denmark

Parken Stadium, Copenhagen

BBC, 8pm BST

Kasper Hjulmand has only been in the job for 12 months, with predecessor Age Hareide deciding not to stay on an extra year when the tournament was delayed.

A highly-regarded coach, he won his native Superliga with Nordsjaelland before replacing Thomas Tuchel as manager of Mainz, but his stint in Germany was short-lived.

Hjulmand says the special ingredient of his Denmark team is a club-like team spirit and the pride of the players. Their main strength is a strong defensive base, whilst there remains a strong reliance on Christian Eriksen to create and score in the absence of a prolific centre-forward.

Kasper Schmeichel is a formidable presence between the posts, well protected by Chelsea’s Andreas Christensen and AC Milan veteran Simon Kjaer. Vestergaard is only likely to start in the event Hjulmand utilises a back three.

Dortmund’s Thomas Delaney and former Saint Pierre-Emile Højbjerg anchor the midfield, offering Eriksen license to roam and feed fleet-footed Leipzig forward Yussuf Poulsen, whose piercing runs in behind defences are the chief beneficiary of Eriksen’s passing range.