Outnumbered in the stands, not outplayed on the field.
That is the expectation of Denmark’s players ahead of their European Championship semifinal match against England at Wembley Stadium on Wednesday.
Entry restrictions to Britain amid the pandemic are stopping Danish fans from traveling to London from abroad to cheer on their team at English soccer’s national stadium. Only Danish people already in England, or who live in England, can buy a ticket from the country’s allocation of about 5,800 from an expected capacity of 60,000 spectators.
Denmark midfielder Christian Norgaard is gearing up for a “hostile environment” at Wembley. That, though, might not be such a bad thing.
“They’ll get wild support,” Norgaard said. “But maybe they’ll turn on their own team if things don’t go well for them.
“There is pressure on them,” he added in Danish newspaper BT. “We can play more freely. We have always been able to do that, but we also have expectations of ourselves. We believe we can deliver something.”
Like Norgaard, a defensive midfielder for newly promoted English team Brentford, Andreas Christensen also plays in England with Chelsea and has already been to Wembley twice this season in the FA Cup — for the team’s win over Manchester City in the semifinals and a loss to Leicester in the final.
The center back knows England’s players well and doesn’t see a massive gap between the teams.
“Player by player, they will probably say yes,” said Christensen, when asked if England was the favorite. “I feel like we have the qualities to play against everyone. As a team, I would not say they are that much better.”
Denmark has been struck by a groundswell of support following Christian Eriksen’s collapse in the team’s opening group game against Finland, when he suffered cardiac arrest and had to resuscitated with a defibrillator. The way Eriksen’s teammates acted during and after the incident at Parken Stadium attracted widespread praise.
They have ridden a wave of emotion to bounce back from losing to Finland and also to Belgium in their second game to qualify from the group, and then beat Wales and the Czech Republic on the way to the semifinals.
“It has changed a bit after how we reacted after the first match,” Christensen said. “We have received a lot of support in England — we have been their favorite (other) team so far.
“That has changed now that we have become their opponents. I have received many messages from people at the club (Chelsea) and also from the players. They just write that things have changed now.”