Eighteen years after they were crowned European champions, Denmark head to the World Cup in great form. They qualified as group winners, finishing ahead of Portugal and twice beating Scandinavian rivals Sweden, who missed out on the finals. It was a personal triumph for veteran coach Morten Olsen, who failed to lead his side to either the last European Championship or World Cup.
Despite those failures, Olsen remains popular with the Danish public and, with the likes of Daniel Agger, Christian Poulsen, Christian Eriksen and Nicklas Bendtner in their squad, Denmark look well equipped to edge out Cameroon and Japan to progress from a group the Netherlands will be expected to win. However, while the Danes have shown they can be resolute and hard to beat, unless Bendtner and Jon Dahl Tomasson hit form, goals could be hard to come by.
Aim: After beating Portugal twice in qualifying to finish top of their group, the Danes are in optimistic mood. Anything beyond the last 16 would represent a more than satisfying tournament.
THREE KEY PLAYERS
NICKLAS BENDTNER The current Danish player of the year has defied a groin problem and car accident to make it to the World Cup, and responded by declaring his aim is to finish as the top scorer and establish himself as the world's best.
CHRISTIAN ERIKSEN Not since the emergence of Michael Laudrup 30 years ago has a young Danish player generated so much hype. He counts Dennis Bergkamp and Jan Molby among his admirers and is widely tipped as a future star.
CHRISTIAN POULSEN An influential and combative midfielder who often courts controversy for his no-punches-pulled approach on the pitch, Poulsen was one of only two players to feature in all 10 of Denmark's World Cup qualifiers.
MORTEN OLSEN The longest serving coach at the World Cup, Olsen is regarded as one of Denmark's most important ever players and despite failing to qualify for the 2006 World Cup and Euro 2008 is hugely popular in Denmark.
ADOPT THEM BECAUSE...
As well as giving the world bacon and Lego, Denmark was the first country to abolish the slave trade.
HOW THEY QUALIFIED
Denmark's World Cup qualifying highlights
D 0-0 Hungary (A) W 3-2 Portugal (A) W 3-0 Malta (H) W 3-0 Malta (A) W 3-0 Albania (H) W 1-0 Sweden (A) D 1-1 Portugal (H) D 1-1 Albania (A) W 1-0 Sweden (H) L 1-0 Hungary (H) Finished top of group
WORLD CUP BEST
1998: A team featuring both Michael and Brian Laudrup reached the quarter-finals, beaten only by eventual runners-up Brazil in a five-goal thriller.
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