Wednesday, May 12, 2010

2010 FIFA World Cup: Denmark

We preview the 2010 FIFA World Cup, set for June 11-July 11 in South Africa.

Appearance: Fourth
Last time there: 2002 (lost in second round)
Best performance: Quarterfinals (1998)

It might be considered a bit of a surprise that the Danes are in the finals. Their qualifying group in UEFA included flashy Portugal and gritty Sweden. While Portugal eventually qualified, Sweden was left home, thanks in large part to Denmark's sweep of their two head-to-head matches.

Denmark was a bit on the iffy side in qualifying, sweeping Sweden, winning 3-2 at Portugal, and drawing with Albania.

The obvious underdogs in Group E, Denmark will be ready to play, and it's unlikely they'll be deterred by their status. As coach Morten Olsen told World Soccer, "No one gave us a hope of topping a qualifying group containing Portugal and Sweden."

Surely, Denmark can manage more people betting against them, as they will with Holland and Cameroon in their World Cup group.

The Danes sport a formidable goalkeeper in Thomas Sorensen, who plays for England's Stoke City. It's no coincidence that Stoke had a good season in the Premier League, because Sorensen can play.

Soren Larsen led with five goals in qualifying, but Jakob Poulsen and Thomas Kahlenberg scored the biggest goals, giving Denmark their matching 1-0 wins over neighboring Sweden. Midfielder Christian Poulsen is a big key to Denmark's ability to possess the ball.

Opponents will also have to watch out for Nicklas Bendtner, who tallied three times in nine qualifying matches.

The draw doesn't look favorable, but it would be unwise to count Denmark out.

June 14 vs. Holland (Johannesburg -- Soccer City)
June 19 vs. Cameroon, Pretoria
June 24 vs. Japan, Rustenburg

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