Wales v Denmark | Saturday 26th June 2021, 17:00 | BBC
The knockout stages get underway on Saturday with Wales taking on Denmark in Amsterdam. The Danes no longer have the home comforts of playing in Copenhagen anymore, whilst Wales may be somewhat relieved to be moving away from Baku and to be less warm climate.
One win, one draw and one defeat from their group campaign proved to be enough for Wales to progress to this point in the competition. Considering the possible disruption of not having Ryan Giggs in the dugout could have caused, having the steady Rob Page in the job has certainly not proved an issue at all.
Wales earned plenty of plaudits for their three group showings, even the slender defeat to Italy. It is a completely different ball game however in the knockout phase, but they’ll be relatively pleased to be drawn with Denmark, considering who else they could have got.
It is of course well documented what Denmark have been through so far in this competition, certainly more than any other nation has had to deal with. Therefore, they could not be any happier to get out of the group, especially after losing their first two group games. They’ve certainly become the ‘second team’ for everyone at Euro 2020, and whilst they no longer hold home advantage, they enter this game following an emphatic win over Russia, so they’re in a good place, all things considered.
It is pretty clear how Wales are going to approach this game from a tactical perspective. They appear more than happy in the underdog role, which is understandable, and it has served them well to date. They’ve only averaged 38.5% possession across their opening three games, and therefore counter attacking tactics will once again be deployed.
Given they possess the likes of Gareth Bale and Daniel James on the break, they can certainly cause some problems to a Danish backline that isn’t exactly blessed with pace.
When we compare that with Denmark, they’ve kept an average of 57% of the ball, which is among the highest in the competition. Given they have indeed had home advantage so far makes that even more understandable, but they aren’t the sort of side to get the ball forward given they don’t possess a target man kind of striker, which is something Wales will have in the form of Kieffer Moore.
For all that it has been a great story for Denmark to get through, we have to ultimately judge them on the three performances to date, well two really, as that Finland game was just not Denmark as we know them. Against Belgium, they were ultra-impressive for two-thirds of that contest, before Belgium’s quality eventually shone.
The Russia result may look convincing on paper, but it took a wonder-goal for them to go ahead, that after Russia proved very stubborn and effective on the break. That will give plenty of hope to Wales, who face a Denmark side priced at odds-on to win inside 90 minutes.
Without the home crown behind them, but still a likely sizeable presence in the crowd, I just can’t see Denmark going hell for leather to begin with like they did against Belgium. They were playing with emotion on that day, and we’re now into knockout football, so every mistake could be costly.
I can only really picture a situation where Denmark keep the ball and struggle to break Wales down. So 1/1 (SKB) on the Half Time Draw looks most appropriate. Wales are yet to score before the 40th minute at Euro 2020, so we may see the best of them in the second period as an offensive force.
With both teams likely to prove difficult to break down, both sides will look to expose the wide areas, and that is where the focus on my next bet is formed upon. Denmark play with a wing back system, whilst it remains to be seen if Wales adopt the same, and a switch back to a 4-2-3-1 is perhaps most likely from Page.
Still, Wales will be stubborn defensively, whilst Denmark have three powerhouse centre backs that will likely mark Moore out the game. Wide play is paramount from both, and that is why I can see the corner count tick over quite nicely. 9/10 (Sport Nation) on Over 8.5 Corners catches the eye.
Wales’ matches at this Euros are averaging over this number, whilst Denmark’s are averaging 8.20, so only slightly under, and they should have plenty of the ball here to help them surpass that.
Another focus on wide play is part of why I am backing Connor Roberts To Receive A Card at 5/1 (Bet365). This will be one of the biggest games of Roberts’ career, certainly from an international perspective, having played in the Championship Play-Off Final only last month. He’ll be pumped up for this, and one of Denmark’s main attacking threats over this Euros has been left wing back Joakim Maehle.
The Atalanta man may be a right footer playing down the left, but just likes Italy’s Leonardo Spinazzola it isn’t proving a problem. His trickery on the ball has caused right-sided defenders plenty of problems so far, and it just takes one misjudged challenge from the Swansea man to enter the book.
Another card option I like is Denmark’s Jannik Vestergaard To Receive A Card at 13/2 (Bet365). He will be one of the three centre backs in the Danish eleven once more, and I just worry if he gets caught in a one v one situation.
Kjaer takes on the centre role, whilst Christensen is no mug, but Vestergaard is no stranger to the dark arts and he may have to sacrifice a booking if Denmark are struggling building from the back, which they did in the first half against Russia and were lucky not to concede.