Spain beat Denmark to reach the quarter finals, in a less than thrilling occasion.
Denmark 0-1 Spain
So far, Euro 2022 has been high scoring and entertaining games galore. England demolishing Norway, France smashing Italy, Portugal’s two comebacks for 2-0 down, etcetera, etcetera.
This, was not that.
Spain were doing what they’ve done best thus far in the tournament, having a whole load of the ball and doing a whole load of not much with it.
They had Denmark under the cosh for long periods, but seemed to resort to spamming crosses into the box as they weren’t getting anywhere of note through their usual style, thanks to Denmark’s compact set up. Lene Christensen, who was great on the whole in all three games for Denmark, was quite busy, although with nothing too groundbreaking to do.
The issue that Spain were encountering with all of these crosses was that they didn’t have anyone in their attacking areas who is particularly good at heading the ball.
They could’ve done with sticking Irene Paredes (who had a header cleared off the line just before half time) up there.
As for Denmark, they could’ve done with cloning Pernille Harder a few times.
Despite their lack of possession, Denmark had more opportunities of note in the opening exchanges. Spain were playing the highest of high lines (think Liverpool’s 7-2 loss to Aston Villa style high line) and were caught out a few times. Harder was on her lonesome though, with her teammates trying their best to get there, but when they did they just didn’t have the quality.
There were some momentary periods of excitement through the first half. Athenea Del Castillo and Janni Thomsen were involved at both ends. First, Del Castillo just about got the ball of Thomsen before she shot inside the penalty area. Then, Thomsen returned the favour ripping the ball away from Del Castillo’s feet basically on the goal line, after Christensen made a right mess of catching a cross.
The second half wasn’t exactly a classic either.
Denmark tried to throw the kitchen sink at it with just under 20 minutes to go. Nadia Nadim and Stine Larsen came on and they changed from a back five to a back four.
They only needed a moment and did have opportunities, although it was Pernille Harder vs the world most the time.
Harder was of course involved as Nadim had Denmarks best chance of the game.
Holmsgaard found Harder on the right hand side, with the latter, having the composure the rest of her team had lacked, finding the right pass to Nadim, who was falling over as she hit the shot so didn’t get the purchase she would’ve liked on it. Sandra Paños made a decent save.
Much to the despair of the Danes, Spain sealed it in the 90th minute. They finally made use of one of their crosses, with Marta Cordona sending a well executed header across the goal into the bottom corner. They took their time but it was definitely deserved on the balance of the game.
Denmark gave it their best in ill-fated circumstances.
Fair play to Denmark, they had a game plan and tried with all their might and power to execute it. They just didn’t have enough.
Despite their obvious quality, it was always going to be a tall order for them in the so-called group of death, not helped by getting hammered by Germany in their first game.
As so wonderfully put by Denmark manager Lars Sondergaard: ‘We knew this was the group of death, unfortunately we were the ones who died’.
A quarter final against England, in Brighton on Wednesday night awaits.
They’re through the group in a much less convincing manner than was expected by most. They look a bit disjointed at times and leave themselves awfully exposed at the back. One straight ball and their wide open.
It was a mixture of Spain getting back quickly and Denmark getting forward slowly which stopped them being made to really pay for getting caught out. England have been doing anything but getting forward slowly recently.
With all that said, they could cause England problems. They can keep the ball for fun and did prove against Finland that they have the ability to go direct at times. They also have the potential for individual brilliance from a large number of their players.
So, much like England really, questions still remain. On the showings so far you’d fancy England to win. They were much more convincing in the group stage, but stranger things have happened in knockout football than Spain beating England.
Whatever happens, we’re getting a quarter final between the two most hyped teams in the tournament. Should be good.