Dogged defending & a carefully-executed game plan helped Denmark to victory over Netherlands

Morten Olsen's men can pat themselves on the back after a fine defensive display frustrated the Dutch and helped them to a shock victory against the 2010 World Cup finalists
 Michael Hansen
 Denmark Expert Follow on

ANALYSIS

It was a win well earned, but Denmark had to work hard as a team to secure a surprising 1-0 victory over one of the pre-tournament favourites Netherlands - their first-ever triumph in an opening game of a European Championship tournament.

Just like in the 1992 title-winning year, Denmark were once again underdogs in their encounter against the Dutch. Coach Morten Olsen knew that the best way to get a result from this game was to play his usual defence-minded 4-3-3 formation which he had deployed in the final two warm-up games before the Euros.

Knowing that his game-plan and tactical approach may not be enough, Olsen had also called upon the players to perform to the best of their abilities as only a top display would do against Bert van Marwijk's team of superstars.

And the players responded brilliantly throughout the course of the match.

Denmark do not have many star names in their team like Netherlands do, and they have to rely on playing as a strong unit rather than hoping for one or two individuals to win the game for them.

This was exactly what happened in the match on Saturday evening. The four-man back line stood their ground, fought for every ball, never afraid to tackle and never gave up chasing the ball.

MATCH FACTS | Netherlands 0-1 Denmark

 Shots
 On Target
 Possession
 Corners
 Bookings
 Red cards
NETHERLANDS
28
8
   53%
11
1
0
DENMARK
8
2
  47%
4
2
0
The midfielders did their share too, always willing to go back and defend and even the lone forward Nicklas Bendtner was back assisting the rearguard, heading the ball out of harm's way on several occasions.

Olsen was well aware before the match that Netherlands would put his players under an early onslaught of pressure and for the first 10 to 15 minutes, this was the case.

Denmark rarely ventured into the Dutch half and were it not for the two free kicks they won early in the game, the Oranje goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg would not have touched the ball at all.

Having survived the early pressure, the Danes began to find a rhythm in their play and they were gaining more confidence the longer the match went on goalless.

The defenders fought hard, goalkeeper Stephan Andersen showed why Olsen was right in putting him in goal as he pulled off some excellent saves and commanded his area, showing no sign of weakness when put under pressure. The team spirit and the will to win was very evident.

Simon Poulsen, the left-back, was given permission by Olsen to roam forward, giving more space to Michael Krohn-Dehli on the left-hand side when the former had the ball. This was a vote of confidence by the coach, who was only too aware of the pitfalls of losing possession for such a defence-minded side. Poulsen, in the end, vindicated Olsen's trust in him: he was always back in defence when Netherlands were in control of the ball, and was the creator of Krohn-Dehli’s winner.

After netting the opener, Denmark did not waver in their game plan, and stuck to it until the final whistle to see out the three points.

The win against Netherlands was proof that if the tactics are right, the team stick together as a unit without relying on individuals and there's a slice of luck, it is possible to cause an upset and get a result against one of the heavyweights.

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