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Scandinavian rivals Denmark and Finland face off on Saturday as they both begin their Euro 2020 journey.
Belgium are clear favourites to win Group B, but there is a real chance for any one of the remaining three to grab second place - or finish as one of the best third-placed sides.
However, defeast for either side on Saturday would leave one team facing the prospect of having to take points off both Belgium and Russia to make it into the knockout stages - so a good start is crucial.
Date, kick-off time and venue
|Photo: The Telegraph|
Denmark vs Finland is scheduled for a 5pm BST kick-off on Saturday, June 12, 2021.
The match will be held at Parken Stadium in Copenhagen.
Denmark vs Finland team news
Goalkeepers: Kasper Schmeichel, Jonas Lossl, Frederik Ronnow
Defenders: Simon Kjaer, Andreas Christensen, Jannik Vestergaard, Joachim Andersen, Mathias Jorgensen, Daniel Wass, Jens Stryger Larsen, Joakim Maehle, Nicolai Boilesen
Midfielders: Christian Eriksen, Thomas Delaney, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Mathias Jensen, Christian Norgaard, Anders Christiansen
Forwards: Kasper Dolberg, Jonas Wind, Andreas Cornelius, Martin Braithwaite, Robert Skov, Mikkel Damsgaard, Yussuf Poulsen, Andreas Skov Olsen
Goalkeepers: Lukas Hradecky, Jesse Joronen, Anssi, Jaakkola
Defenders: Thomas Lam, Paulus Arajuuri, Jere Uronen, Juhani Ojala, Sauli Vaisanen, Nikolai Alho, Daniel O'Shaughnessy, Niko Hamalainen, Leo Vaisanen, Robert Ivanov
Midfielders: Jasin Assehnoun, Onni Valakari, Pyry Soiri, Fredrik Jensen, Joni Kauko, Glen Kamara, Rasmus Schuller, Tim Sparv
Forwards: Teemu Pukki, Lassi Lappalainen, Marcus Forss, Joel Pohjanpalo
Denmark vs Finland Previews
Undoubtedly, Denmark's strength is their solid spine, boasting a number of excellent players in both central defence and central midfield. Their qualifying campaign showed as much, limiting their opponents to an average of 0.65 expected goals against (xGA) en route to conceding just six goals in eight matches.
While some time has passed since then, the Danes have displayed the same trait in their most recent matches, keeping three clean sheets in the World Cup qualifiers in March, before two solid performances in warm-up games against Germany (1-1) and Bosnia & Herzegovina (2-0).
Denmark's defensive solidity enables them to compete at a high level, losing only three of their last 34 competitive games in international football, twice to Belgium, and to Croatia on penalties in the 2018 World Cup round of 16.
As a result, it's unsurprising to see an experienced Denmark side as heavy favourites in this game, maybe even a live outsider to go far in the competition.
Finland make history
Finland, on the other hand, are unlikely to progress past the group stage, appearing in their first ever major tournament.
Markku Kanerva’s side are an organised bunch, but, despite possessing talents such as Teemu Pukki and Marcus Forss, they find it difficult to trouble opposition defences, mainly due to their intent on staying tactically sound.
Although Finland created 18.7 expected goals for (xGF) in their successful qualifying campaign, 64% of that total was recorded against minnows Armenia and Liechtenstein. They registered an average of just 1.15 xGF per game against Greece, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Italy, highlighting their issues going forward.
Finland have kept 13 clean sheets in their last 24 competitive games, so they do possess the ability to frustrate Denmark, but three defeats in their three warm-up friendlies hardly instils confidence.
Denmark vs Finland: Prediction
Denmark haven't lost any of their previous eight encounters with Finland, securing six wins and two draws. The Danes have won the last two meetings between these two countries and both teams have scored in three of their last six head-to-heads. Demark have won four of their last five international matches and have scored in all of those games. Finland's form has been poor, losing four and drawing two of their last six matches, but both teams have scored in four of their last six outings.
Over 2.5 goals were scored when these two nations last locked horns, with Denmark claiming a 2-1 win on that occasion. The Danes have scored in each of their last six matches and over 2.5 goals have been produced in three of those games. Three of Finland's last six outings have also witnessed at least three goals, so you can see why we're expecting plenty of goalmouth action this weekend.
Nobody in the Denmark squad has played more games or scored more goals than Cristian Eriksen. The Inter Milan midfielder has chipped in with 36-goals in 108 caps for Denmark, making him a potent scorer of goals as well as a creator of them. Eriksen, 29, has scored 4-goals in his last 10 appearances for Denmark and we're backing the midfielder to score against Finland on Saturday.
Scoreline prediction: Denmark 3-1 Finland
Head to head (h2h) history and results
Denmark wins: 38
Finland wins: 11
Denmark vs Finland betting tips
Watertight Denmark to clinch victory
|Photo: Euro 2020|
Kasper Hjulmand’s Denmark side go into the tournament in good form, unbeaten in five matches since losing 4-2 away to Belgium in the Nations League in November.
Some punters fancy Denmark as a good outside bet to lift the trophy, which they did in Sweden in 1992, and they have the advantage of playing their three group games on home soil.
They also have an excellent record. Since losing 1-0 at home to Montenegro in a World Cup qualifier in October 2016, they have lost just three out of 34 competitive matches, two against Belgium, the world’s No 1-ranked team, and one on penalties to Croatia in the last 16 of the 2018 World Cup.
In their previous 10 games on home soil, they have only conceded three goals, and we expect them to shut out Finland and claim three points on Saturday.
Tip: Denmark to win to nil @ SP with 888sport
Parken the bus may be Finland’s ploy
Markku Kanerva’s Finland side will undoubtedly enjoy the experience of their first European Championship finals but it will be a surprise if they progress beyond the group stage.
Finland have drawn two and lost four of their previous six matches, Wales, Switzerland, Sweden and Estonia all lowering their colours in the last nine months.
Although they have Norwich City’s Teemu Pukki spearheading their attack, Finland may struggle to score throughout the tournament. Tactically, they will be set up to frustrate, and with Denmark so strong at the back, under 1.5 goals really does appeal.
Denmark boast the best defensive record of all the qualifying nations since September 2018, while Finland have kept 13 clean sheets in 24 competitive matches, so we’re expecting just a solitary goal.
Tip: Under 1.5 goals @ 9/5 with 888sport
Eriksen the key for Denmark
Christian Eriksen has enjoyed a memorable season with Inter Milan, helping them to win the Serie A title for the first time since 2010.
The playmaker is the heartbeat of Denmark’s team, and Hjulmand’s team do all they can to give Eriksen the space he needs to work in.
The coach switches his formations between 4-3-3 and 3-4-2-1, and Eriksen also takes penalties and free-kicks. He has scored 13 international goals in 24 appearances since the 2018 World Cup.
He has the ability to unlock Finland’s defence with a moment of magic and we’re backing him to score the goal that separates the sides on Saturday.
Tip: Christian Eriksen to score at any time @ SP with 888sport
Denmark vs Finland odds
Denmark are 1/2 to win on Saturday, with Finland at 13/2 to claim victory in the match. A draw is priced at 29/10.
Denmark @ 1/2 with 888sport
Draw @ 29/10 with 888sport
Finland @ 13/2 with 888sport
Players to watch
Denmark: After a tough start following his move from Tottenham, Christian Eriksen grew into life at Inter Milan during the second half of the Serie A season, popping up with some important goals to help his side seal the title. Unfortunately, Eriksen failed to provide a single league assist in 2020/21 but the fact remains that he’ll be Denmark’s playmaker in chief this summer, supplying the ammo for the likes of Martin Braithwaite and Yussuf Poulsen.
Finland: Only Harry Kane (12), Eran Zahavi and Cristiano Ronaldo (both 11) scored more goals than Teemu Pukki (10) during qualifying for this tournament and to say Finland’s hopes rest squarely on his shoulders would be understating it. The 31-year-old has been on fire for Norwich City over the past few years, while he heads into this tournament just two goals shy of Jari Litmanen at the top of Finland’s all-time scoring charts, netting 30 times in 91 caps so far. Should Pukki end Euro 2020 with that record in hand, you can bet he’ll have inspired Finland to some shock results in doing so.
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