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Belgian European Championship victory against Denmark: Kevin alone too good


Uninspired Danes received uninspired Belgians - who did win in the end: the return of the best playmaker in the world brings Belgium to the European Championship round of 16. But someone else got the biggest applause.

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Turned the game around with an assist and the winning goal: Kevin de Bruyne



The scene of the game:

Simon Kjær and Jannik Vestergaard are impressive athletes: one a good 1.90 meters, the other almost two meters tall, internationally experienced, skillful in a duel. But Belgium's Romelu Lukaku managed to shield a long ball from both Danes. Lukaku played for Youri Tielemans, whose flat pass into the penalty area knocked Thorgan Hazard into his brother Eden. The ball was no longer near the right corner flag, but most of the Danish defenders were - and so Kevin de Bruyne had plenty of space on the left edge of the box to thunder a shot flat into the lower left corner. Belgium led after an hour in which there had been little convergence before.

The result:

Denmark lost 1: 2 (1: 0) to Belgium in Copenhagen. The Belgian world number one can plan for the round of 16. Read the match report here.

The ten of the game:

Even before the kick-off, the name Christian Eriksen was floating above everything. The playmaker, who suffered cardiac arrest in the Danish opening game against Finland and had to be resuscitated, watched the game on television from his room in Copenhagen's Rigshospitalet. It was omnipresent in the stadium, however: a larger than life-size jersey floated over the square as an opening choreography, fans of both teams wished Eriksen all the best on banners. After ten minutes - the ten is Eriksen's shirt number - referee Björn Kuipers interrupted the game. The entire stadium, Danes, Belgians and referees, paused for a moment to applaud Eriksen. Christian Eriksen, that is the best news of this European Championship, is still there.

The first half:

In fact, it seemed as if the Danes had a twelfth man on the pitch in the opening minutes. It only took Yussuf Poulsen 99 seconds to use a playback error by Belgium's Jason Denayer for an early lead, while Thibaut Courtois parried a little later against Denmark's full-back Joakim Mæhle (5th). A header from Daniel Wass (6th) and a shot by youngster Mikkel Damsgaard just missed the goal (35th): Denmark fought, played and bought Belgium completely.

Mirror, mirror:

Without playmaker Eriksen, national coach Kasper Hjulmand had to change the Danish game. There is no second central creative player like the 29-year-old in Denmark's squad. Accordingly, the team based its own formation on that of the opponent: The Belgians started in the 3-4-3 basic order, the Danes did the same. So Hjulmand made clear assignments against the ball to take the ball away from Belgium early on. That succeeded again and again - and very fair: Denmark only played foul for the first time in the 40th minute.

They are back:

Belgium coach Roberto Martínez didn't just have an ace up his sleeve, he had three jokers: De Bruyne already celebrated his comeback at halftime after a broken nose and eye socket in the Champions League final, followed by Axel Witsel less than an hour later (Comeback after Achilles tendon rupture) and Eden Hazard (not a real comeback, but his longest assignment for Belgium since 2019 after corona infection, muscle injuries and poor shape). Especially the inclusion of de Bruynes should turn the game upside down.

The second half:

Suddenly Lukaku, who was now looking for (and winning) the running duels on the wing more often, got his balls, suddenly the Belgians escaped their Danish guards, suddenly they had depth in the game and enjoy combining. De Bruyne was already significantly involved in the equalization when he initiated a counterattack himself and, after interacting with Lukaku, crossed it in the last instance, so that Thorgan Hazard only had to push in. The final phase then belonged to Denmark again, Braithwaite hit the crossbar with the best chance with his head (87th). But if the Belgians had to switch on the world-class mode, then they did too.

Flight show:

The only 20-year-old Damsgaard was one of the positive surprises of the evening on the Danish side for a long time: agile, cheeky and dribbling the player from Sampdoria Genoa fitted into the offensive row of three. However, a scene in the 69th minute was annoying: Damsgaard suddenly took off in a duel with Thomas Meunier, although the Belgian did not touch him at all. A swallow of the clumsier kind that Referee Kuipers punished with yellow.

Everything is still possible:

Before the last matchday in Group B, Denmark is pointless, but not hopeless: If the team wins with two goals difference against Russia on the last matchday, while Finland loses against Belgium at the same time, the group would be in the group due to the best goal difference in Three-way comparison with the Finns and Russians then tied for points even finished in second place. Without Belgian rifle help, there would be the option of finishing third in the group with a big win.

Source: spiegel

All sports articles on 2021-06-21

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