The Full 90

2010 World Cup Preview: Denmark

To get you ready for the drama that will start unfolding on June 11 in South Africa, The Star and The Full 90 will introduce you to the teams, the key performers, what to look for and what to expect in this year's Cup.Up next is the smaller, colder, more northern, blonder version of the Dutch.

Denmark

Group E THE BASICS

Nickname:

Olsen's Elleve (Olsen's Eleven, in honor of popular coach Morten Olsen)



Colors:

Red, White



FIFA Ranking:

35



How They Got Here:

Finished atop a European qualifying group with Portugal, Sweden and Hungary, only losing once



World Cup Pedigree:

3 World Cups ('86, '98, '02), progressed past group stage every time, quarter-finalist in '98

THE PLOT

A Scandinavian team has progressed past the group stage in the last three World Cups, can the smallest of them keep that trend alive?

THE DIRECTOR

Morten Olsen

The longest continually serving manager in the tournament, Olsen won over 100 caps with the Danes during his playing career. He likes his team to play "Holland-lite" and stresses tactical, attacking football. This of course, hasn't worked so great for them. They failed to qualify for both the '06 World Cup and '08 European Championships.

LEADING MAN

Christian Poulsen

The hard-working Juventus midfielder will be the force that drives the Danes. He's excellent at picking out the open man with an incisive pass and is a very good tackler. His weakness? A tremendously short fuse. But, he's got fabulous European soccer hair.

SUPPORTING CAST

Jon Dahl Tomasson

(forward, Feyenoord) is the captain of the team and, at 33, is probably in his last leg of his international career;

Jesper Gronkjaer

(forward/winger, FC Copenhagen) is another aging stalwart (32) who probably has a little bit of creativity left;

Simon Kjaer

(defender, Palermo) is a monstrous (6'3") center back who should win any and all aerial battles, a good Cup for him could mean a big-ticket transfer soon;

Daniel Agger

(defender, Liverpool) will likely pair with Kjaer to make a formidable and difficult to break down backline;

Thomas Sorensen

(goalkeeper, Stoke City) is a serviceable keeper who should be the starter, but Brondy IF's Stephan Andersen (who has no international experience) during qualification.

LIKELY BREAKOUT STAR

Nicklas Bendtner

Arsenal's precocious young striker is much like Germany's strikers: Better for country than club. For Denmark, Bendtner is prolific, and will line up out wide or up the middle. He will be the focus of the team's attack.

THE LIKELY VILLAIN

Poulsen

. His aforementioned short fuse has led to spitting and stamping incidents throughout his career and it was a punch he threw at a Swedish player that kicked off a riot and led to fans storming the pitch in 2007.

PRODUCTION NOTES

Olsen favors the 4-3-3 and likes his players to start wide and cut in around the box. Look for overlapping runs and players moving around to fill and create space. Think Holland-lite.

WHAT THEY'LL WEAR

IT'S SORTA LIKE...

Die Hard 2

If The Netherlands is like "Die Hard," Denmark is like the slightly lesser than sequel. The first movie is an enjoyable movie that never disappoints but ultimately offers nothing of substance. The sequel has many of the same qualities, but it has gigantic question marks that pull you out of the movie -- such as why they didn't land the plane at one of the other 5 airports within 100 miles of Dulles? The question perplexing the Danes: How in the heck can they breakdown the Dutch?

TRAILER

DO WHAT YOU WILL WITH THIS...

Amongst the earliest stars of Danish football were the Bohr brothers -- including Nobel Prize-winning physicist Niels -- who won the silver medal in the 1912 Olympics.

CRITICAL BLURBS

The Danes will not be an easy out in this tournament and should be considered amongst the teams who can make some noise in the knockout stage. ... They are well organized and they've proven themselves in qualification, besting Portugal, Sweden and Hungary to get here. ... Scoring shouldn't be a huge issue, though age might be. ... The game versus The Netherlands on June 14 is must-see TV. Could be the most attractive soccer in the first round. ... My family originates from Scandinavia (either Norway or Denmark), so I will always hold a special place for whatever team represents them in the Cup. Denmark is my second team. Just making it official. ...

Best-case scenario?

Winning their group out-right (beating the Dutch) and taking down likely Group F runner-up Paraguay before losing in the quarters to Brazil (which would equal their best Cup run ever). ...

Realistic prediction?

Finishing second in the group (the winner of Denmark-Cameroon on June 19 should be the decider) and losing to Italy in the next round.

POSSIBLE HOLLYWOOD MOMENT

Anytime you get to face a regional rival in the group stage, it's a big deal. When you face them in the tournament opener, it's even bigger. The biggest possible moment for the Danes in this tournament would be walking off the field victors (possibly in a 4-3 game) against the more highly touted (but eerily similar) Dutch.


Group A: South Africa

,

Uruguay

,

Mexico

,

France

Group B: South Korea

,

Greece

,

Nigeria

,

Argentina

Group C: Algeria

,

Slovenia

,

USA

,

England

Group D: Serbia

,

Australia

,

Ghana

,

Germany

Group E: Japan

, Cameroon, Denmark, Netherlands



Group F:

New Zealand, Slovakia, Paraguay, Italy



Group G:

North Korea, Ivory Coast, Portugal, Brazil



Group H:

Honduras, Chile, Switzerland, Spain


Sources: World Cup 2010 (by Steven D. Stark and Harrison Stark); ESPN and Soccernet.com; FIFA; CIA Factbook
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