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Tuesday, 7 May, 2002, 08:49 GMT 09:49 UK
Denmark's faith in fate
Michael Laudrup is devastated as Brazil win 3-2 in the quarter-finals of World Cup 1998
Denmark were finally beaten by Brazil at France 98

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There are players and fans who believe a team's success or failure can be attributed to the most unlikely omens.

A blessed dressing room, one sock on before the other. Some will do anything for a psychological edge.

So, Denmark will be pinning their hopes on the "third time lucky" theory for this year's World Cup in Korea and Japan.

Their two previous appearances have been impressive, particularly in France 1998, where Denmark were beaten 3-2 in a thrilling quarter-final against Brazil.

But surely it takes more than a lucky omen or two to win football's greatest prize.

Reigning champions France have something rather more tangible than luck - a team full of world class players.

Brian Laudrup
The Laudrup brothers retired in 1998
It is a boast Denmark have never been able to make.

The Laudrup brothers, Michael and Brian, Peter Schmeichel, and Allan Simonsen were all in that category, but these superstars have all waved their international farewells.

And Danish brilliance has always been in short supply.

Without the luxury of a glut of talent, Denmark have relied on the sum of the team's parts to produce their "total football".

Success in the European Championships of 1992 was achieved in exactly that fashion.

Unfancied, and only in the competition because political crisis prevented Yugoslavia's participation, Denmark went on to beat Germany 2-0 in the final.

Preparations had seemingly not been ideal as players were hastily recalled from holidays, swapping beach sandals for football boots.

Denmark's build-up to Korea and Japan has been hampered by an apparent injury jinx.

However, fears that key players would not be available were allayed to some extent on Monday when coach, Morten Olsen, named all 23 of the squad which will board the plane to the Far East.

Included are:

  • Martin Joergensen
  • Jon Dahl Tomasson
  • Stig Toefting
  • Thomas Helveg
  • Claus Jensen
  • Allan Nielsen

Olsen had been expected to delay the announcement to give those players further recuperation time.

But he said: "All players are fit. They are under way with their physical training and can handle the job like everyone else."

If the contrast between the preparations for France 98 and Euro 92 is stark, Denmark will hoping for some similarities once the action gets underway.

France provided Denmark's opposition in the final group match in Sweden 10 years ago.

Mixed fortunes

The Danes achieved a 2-1 victory to progress in the tournament they went on to win.

And the teams will meet in the final group match of a major tournament again this summer. Could history repeat itself?

Denmark will hope it is their fate.

It is worth remembering, though, that the last time the countries met in competition France won 3-0.

That was in Euro 2000 and the Danes' misery was compounded by another 3-0 defeat by Holland and a 2-0 loss to Czech Republic.

How fickle fate can be.

Ebbe Sand
Sand is Denmark's top striker
Worringly, for those who place faith in superstitions, Denmark's campaign had been disrupted by a lengthy injury list.

Warning bells?

It is far more likely that Denmark's World Cup will be neither glorious or disastrous.

Ebbe Sand, top scorer in the Bundesliga in 2000-20001, is capable of hitting the net during June - he scored nine goals during qualification.

But is Denmark's main strike threat really in the same class as France's Thierry Henry, Argentina's Hernan Crespo or Spain's Raul?

Similar comparisons with the top nations in other areas of the field would emphasise Denmark's lack of star quality.

So, they can not win it then?

Not unless the Gods are exclusively smiling on them.

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URUGUAY 3 -1 2
FRANCE 3 -3 1

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