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Team preview: Denmark

June 3, 2010
By Scott Anthony
Special to ESPN.com
(Archive)

Denmark arrives at the 2010 World Cup with possibly its best squad of footballers since the Laudrup brothers' golden generation won the European Championship in 1992. Morten Olsen's blend of young and old topped a tough qualification group that included Portugal and archrival Sweden. Denmark has made the last 16 on its two previous appearances at the Word Cup finals, and with opening matches against the Netherlands, Cameroon and Japan this time around, you would not bet against the Danes' repeating the achievement.

Coach: Morten Olsen

A legend in his playing days, Olsen has led the Danish team for more than a decade. Managing a national side that can call on only 5 million people, Olsen survived the six fallow years that followed the Euro 2004. Olsen has been re-energized by an emerging new crop of players that includes Nicklas Bendtner, Simon Kjaer and Christian Eriksen.

Style of play

4-3-3 in possession, 4-5-1 without. As for much of the past decade, this Denmark team is built around Jon Dahl Tomasson. Sitting in the hole behind Bendtner, the Danish captain provides the team's attacking pivot.

Players to watch

1. Nicklas Bendtner. Bendtner's hat trick for Arsenal against Porto in the Champions League hinted that the erratic 22-year-old striker might be on the cusp of realizing his enormous potential.

2. Christian Poulsen. The experienced Juventus midfielder provides the Danish defense with an uncompromising shield. He also scored the 90th-minute equalizer that heralded the Danes' improbable 3-2 win against Portugal in Lisbon.

3. Daniel Agger. As well as being the cornerstone of a defense that conceded only five goals in qualifying, Agger possesses spectacular shooting ability that promises to light up the World Cup.

Who's hot

Christian Eriksen. The teenage Ajax midfielder got his first call-up in February and impressed enough to grab a seat on the plane to South Africa.

Who's not

Left back. A problem position with the likes of Anders Moller Christensen exposed in qualifying, the selection of Patrick Mtiliga is a final throw of the dice.

Three key questions

1. Who fills in for Thomas Sorensen? With Sorensen, Denmark's first-choice goalkeeper, possibly out after dislocating his elbow for Stoke City at the end of the EPL season, the Danish campaign is threatened to derail before it has begun. Can the inexperienced alternatives make the step up?

2. Is Jon Dahl Tomasson too old? The Danish legend had a stop-start season at Feyenoord. Can Olsen rely on the fragile 33-year-old's attacking wiles?

3. Can Olsen's men take the pressure? After a tough opening game with the Netherlands and then a tricky match with Cameroon, it seems probable that the Danes will go into their last group game against Japan knowing they have to win by X amount of goals to progress. Will they perform?

Projected lineup

G Thomas Sorensen, Stoke City (England)
D Lars Jacobsen, Blackburn Rovers (England)
D Per Kroldrup, Fiorentina (Italy)
D Daniel Agger, Liverpool (England)
D Simon Kjaer, Palermo (Italy)
M Christian Poulsen, Juventus (Italy)
M Dennis Rommedahl, Ajax (Netherlands)
M Jakob Poulsen, AGF (Denmark)
F Martin Jorgensen, AGF (Denmark)
F Jon Dahl Tomasson, Feyenoord (Netherlands)
F Nicklas Bendtner, Arsenal (England)