Hjulmand urges Denmark to make England crack under Euro pressure
London (AFP) –
Denmark manager Kasper Hjulmand believes his underdogs can take advantage of the pressure on England as the hosts look to make history in Wednesday's Euro 2020 semi-final at Wembley.
With the last-four clash to be held in front of 60,000 England fans, Gareth Southgate's in-form side are firm favourites to reach their first European Championship final.
The Three Lions have not played in a final at any major tournament since winning the 1966 World Cup.
And Hjulmand is hoping the weight of expectations from the football-crazy nation will turn into a suffocating distraction for England.
"Of course there is a lot of pressure on England. We have to take advantage of this situation. They have a lot of supporters but they also have a lot of pressure and expectations," Hjulmand said.
"I don't think it will be so easy for them. We think we can take advantage of the pressure England feels."
Dismissing England's favourite tag as irrelevant, Hjulmand added: "I don't think games are won by what experts are saying. It is won on the pitch.
"We have shown for a long time that we are very difficult to beat and the opponents have to be very good to beat us. England is a great team but we still believe in what we can do.
"This team is so confident. It's not so much nerves, more excitement and expectation. We firmly believe it will be hard for England to beat us. We know we are not done yet."
- 'Play with courage' -
Hjulmand pointed to Denmark's 1-0 win against England at Wembley last October in the Nations League -- when Harry Maguire was sent off for Southgate's men -- as proof they can upset the odds again.
"Of course that game gave us the belief. Maguire got a red card in the first half and it changed the picture a bit. We had a 0-0 game in Copenhagen as well," he said.
"The mentality and team spirit we have, we definitely believe we have possibilities in this match.
"We try to take the initiative whoever is on the other side of the pitch. We want to play with courage and score the first goal.
"We are for sure not the favourites, but our mentality is not to play underdog football, just defending and hoping. We want to create and attack."
The Danes reached the semi-finals on a wave of emotion, having seen their Inter Milan midfielder Christian Eriksen suffer a cardiac arrest during their first match of the tournament against Finland.
Former Tottenham star Eriksen, now recovering from the shocking incident, has been invited to the final by UEFA and Hjulmand would love to see Denmark play in front of their team-mate in the showpiece at Wembley on Sunday.
"I hope that if he comes to the final, we will be playing in it. It would be amazing," he said.
"I have talked with him and told him many times that I think of him. Even when we got here to play at Wembley, his old stadium.
"He is with us, we play for him. Imagine if our amazing country of around five million people can beat England. It doesn't get bigger than that."
© 2021 AFP