DOETINCHEM, Netherlands: Denmark are hoping for a fairytale against holders Germany while hosts the Netherlands are bracing for a tough Swedish defense as the women’s Euro quarterfinals kick off on Saturday (Sunday in Manila).
“Every Danish person knows Hans Christian Andersen, the great fairytale writer, and we want to write one tomorrow,” Denmark coach Nils Nielsen said on Friday ahead of the game in Rotterdam.
“We should have respect for a team like Germany. What they have done is unique, nobody else has won the women’s Euro six times in a row—that’s amazing.
“My team are looking forward to the chance of being the first players to ensure they don’t win,” added Nielsen.
With six titles in a row and eight overall, Germany topped Group B, having beaten Italy and Russia and drawn with Sweden.
But Steffi Jones, the coach of the team led by Lyon star midfielder Dzsenifer Marozsan, dismissed any complacency.
“The Danes really play as a unit, with great harmony and in tune,” she said.
“They are incredibly quick down the wings and turn defense to attack very quickly. We’ve got to be careful. We know what we are up against.”
In Doetinchem, the Netherlands, surfing on a massive wave of fan support, will seek to extend their perfect record at the tournament.
The Oranjes have beaten Belgium, Denmark and 2013 runners-up Norway in Group A, and the quarterfinals are another chance for them to make the country’s fastest-growing sport even more popular.
“The further we go through this tournament the more enthusiastic the people will be,” said coach Sarina Wiegman.
“Before the tournament we said that we want to make the Dutch proud about our game, that’s what we’ve done the last three games and that’s what we’re going to do tomorrow again.
“The beginning is that we have a really well organized team tomorrow. The last trainings were really good so we are ready.”
The powerful attacking trio of Lieke Martens, Vivianne Miedema and Shanice van de Sanden will face a tough Swedish defense which held Germany to a goalless draw and only conceded— three times—when coach Pia Sundhage decided to rest key players against Italy.
“The longer it is 0-0, the bigger chance Sweden will have to win,” said Sundhage, who played on the Swedish team that won the tournament in 1984.
But she insisted Sweden did not “want to make it a counter-attacking game.”
“I do not want to put one player marking each of them. That’s not the way I want my team to play,” added the coach who is due to quit after the tournament.
On Sunday, the second day of the quarterfinals, Spain will take on Euro newcomers Austria and France will face England in a clash of titans.