Published November 20, 2014
Denmark pulled off the first stunning result of the tournament when the Danes upset the Netherlands, 1-0, in their opening match of Group B play on Saturday.
Denmark was viewed as outsiders following the draw, which saw the team placed into the "Group of Death" along with the Dutch, Germany and Portugal.
But after the win, coach Morten Olsen's team can now harbor hopes of reaching the knockout round with another upset victory over Portugal on Wednesday.
The Netherlands generated many more scoring chances, but Olsen was proud of the fact that his team went toe-to-toe with the high-powered Dutch, and that the win was not a fluke.
"We dared to play football against this Dutch team, who of course had chances," Olsen said. "But we also had chances and without being biased, I think the victory was more than deserved."
Olsen acknowledged that there may have been a bit of luck involved as well, but said that in order to beat a team of that caliber that sometimes it is necessary to be fortunate.
And although the win was a big one for the Danes, Olsen also found areas that can be improved upon in order for his side to pick up three more points against Portugal.
"You have to play well but also have to be lucky," Olsen said of the win over the Netherlands. "We could have played better, though, and we lost the ball sometimes in midfield - sometimes we played the final pass too quickly. They are things we have to do better against Portugal."
Portuguese coach Paulo Bento saw his team put up a spirited effort against Germany in its opening match, but ultimately come away with a 1-0 defeat.
Bento's side created chances and will be disappointed with the result, but the coach knows that the important thing now is to focus in on the next match, which he believes will be just as difficult as the first one.
"It'll be crucial now that the players recover physically," Bento said. "When you play like we did against Germany you lose a lot of energy. Denmark are sitting more comfortably than we are but we can't do anything about that, only concentrate on the second game. We came here to go through to the quarterfinals and while some considered Denmark the weakest team in the group, we never did. We're not surprised they beat the Netherlands."
If Bento wasn't surprised by that result he is one of the few, but he does know how good Denmark can be, having split a pair of qualifying matches with the Danes and finishing second to the team in Group H.
"The Danish team has pedigree and real personality," said Bento. "We have won just one of our last four meetings and will have to raise ourselves for that match."
If not, Portugal's tournament will be ending early, while Denmark will be very much alive in the "Group of Death."