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World Cup 2010: Denmark Profile

Coach: Morten Olsen
Confederation: UEFA
FIFA Ranking (Apr 10): 35
Previous Appearances: 3 (1986, 1998, 2002)

Denmark didn't appear at the World Cup until 1986. That was when Denmark were coached by German Sepp Piontek and the team were nicknamed “Danish Dynamite” because of their adventurous and entertaining play. The first round was won with style, beating Scotland, Uruguay and Germany, before meeting Spain in the 1/8 final. A back pass by Jesper Olsen, who had scored from the penalty spot to put Denmark ahead, was intercepted by Butragueno, who equalized for Spain. His side then went on to beat Denmark 5-1. In 1998 Denmark reached the quarter-finals, losing narrowly to Brazil 2-3. The Laudrup brothers, Brian and Michael, were the star of that team. In 2002, Denmark won famously 2-0 against the reigning World Cup Champions France in the last group match before England stopped any further progress in the tournament, beating Denmark 3-0. After a one tournament absence, the Danes are back.

How They Qualified

Denmark qualified with style and were early favourites to win their group. After an eventless goalless draw away to Hungary in their opening fixture, Denmark went on to win their next 5 matches. The most important win was in Portugal, where they beat the hosts and group favourites 3-2 after being outplayed for most of 90 minutes. The crunch game was away to Sweden in the sixth match and when they sealed a 1-0 win, hopes of qualifying were high. Two successive draws against Portugal and Albania meant that a home win against Sweden in the penultimate match would mean qualification for the WC finals. Jakob Poulsen scored the winner eleven minutes before the final whistle. It was his first goal for the national team, but what an important strike it turned out to be.


Denmark have a strong and collective midfield which makes it hard for opponents to be able to play through the middle and get too close to the Danish penalty area. At the other end of the pitch it also means that the team have many options to get the ball into the opponents' penalty area. Couple with this some wing threat, and there's much scope for build-up play.


Denmark's main weakness is in the few options they have up front. That is part of the reason why they normally play with a lone striker. Young Nicklas Bendtner is the normal first choice, but when he's injured - which is often - the pickings are slim. Soren Larsen has been used and has also scored when selected, but he has only played in five of the ten qualifiers. Another option is Jon Dahl Tomasson, but he seems stuck on 51 goals, one short of equaling the all time record of 52 goals for Denmark: unfortunately, he hasn't scored an international goal since February 2008. The other few options, like Morten Rasmussen and Mads Junker didn't make it into Olsen's provisional World Cup squad.


Morten Olsen played 102 internationals for Denmark between 1970 and 1989 and has coached Brøndby, FC Cologne and Ajax after hanging up his boots. He then took charge of the national team in 2000. He took Denmark to the WC finals in 2002. Therefore he has an enormous international experience and is admired by players, fans and the governing body alike. His contract runs out after the 2010 WC finals and it is rumoured that he wants to go back to club football after that, although the DBU have already stated an interest in renewing his contract.

Star Men

Nicklas Bendtner (Arsenal, England)

Although only 22 years of age at the time of the WC finals, the Danish striker will already be an experienced player, having played in more than 30 internationals. He's scored in a third of these, and he's now picking up form for Arsenal as well, after having had a difficult start.

Thomas Sorensen (Stoke City, England)

The Danish first choice goalkeeper is an experienced stopper, having made his national team debut in 1999. He played in the 2002 WC finals so this will be his second World Cup finals. Since his national team debut he has only played in England for Sunderland, Aston Villa and currently Stoke in the Premier League. Playing in one of the best leagues in the world will mean that he has what it takes to compete at the highest level. It remains to be seen though whether Sorensen will be fully recovered from an elbow injury in time.

Jakob Poulsen (AGF Aarhus, Denmark)

Poulsen has established himself as a regular in the national team, having started in the last five WC qualifiers playing as a holding midfielder at the left flank. He is a technical player who has a good passing ability and he also scored the all important goal, a long range shot, against Sweden, which made qualification a reality.

Best Footballing Moment

Winning the European Championship in 1992 is without doubt the best moment in the history of Danish football. They didn't qualify initially but because of the civil war in the former Yugoslavia, Denmark replaced that very country. The coach, Richard Møller Nielsen, was at home decorating his kitchen when he got the call, and the rest is history. The final against Germany was a memorable game where every player put in a career-defining performance.

Off the pitch

Famous for: Hans Christian Andersen, who wrote so many fairy tales that have made him famous and loved in the whole world by children and adults alike.

Most likely to: Have the only fans wearing viking plastic helmets and with a built-in plastic beer glass to drink from through a long flexible plastic straw.

World Cup Objective

To reach the quarter finals, as they also did in 1998. Anything better than that will be a huge success.