Kasper Hjulmand wants Denmark to play fearless football against Czech Republic

Netherlands Wales Denmark Euro 2020 Soccer
(Image credit: Peter Dejong)

Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand is confident his side can continue to play without fear as they try to edge close to repeating the feat of their 1992 predecessors.

The Danes have grown in stature as Euro 2020 has progressed after their horrific start when Christian Eriksen collapsed with a cardiac arrest in their opening defeat to Finland.

They head into a quarter-final against the Czech Republic in Baku having scored four times in each of their last two matches and Hjulmand hopes the “courage” his players have shown will continue.

“I can’t say compared to other teams if we play with more freedom but I can say an important thing in our game is to play without fear,” the Denmark coach told his pre-match press conference.

“One of my biggest inspirations Johan Cruyff said you cannot play football with fear.

“It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think both ways, it doesn’t mean just go forward without thinking about backwards but it means you cannot play your best if you are afraid.

“It is up to me to try to make a framework to play in and from there I just want my players to do their best, to show who they are as individuals, to show who we are as a team, leave everything on the pitch.

“We try to work with courage, with freedom (for the players) to express themselves.

“We’ll play with that heart of Christian Eriksen once again. He is the heart of the team still and with that heart and without that fear we will push the button again tomorrow and give everything.”

Denmark’s Kasper Schmeichel is closer than most to the 1992 European Championship-winning team as his father Peter was in goal for their surprise triumph.

However, the Leicester goalkeeper insists they are not yet thinking about emulating that feat.

“I’ve not really spoken to him (his dad) about his experiences,” he said.

“I think any kid growing up in Denmark knows everything about 1992 and the legend which has been passed on about this team.

“It is something we have all grown up with and I don’t think it is different for me than anyone else.

“We don’t want to disappoint, we want to keep making the country and our families proud.

“We’re not thinking about leaving any time soon so tomorrow we will attack one more time.”

The last time these two sides met in this tournament was at the same stage of Euro 2004, when the Czechs were 3-0 winners, but coach Jaroslav Silhavy said he would not be using that as motivation.

“I was an assistant to the coach back then and I like to reminisce about this game,” he said.

“This team know how we we played back then and that was a big success but the situation is different now.

“I don’t have any motivational speech for this. There is a lot of motivation I can impart to my players but it won’t be reminiscing about the 2004 game.”

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