Denmark 0 Serbia 0: the Danes advance but Hojlund is isolated and Germany has little to fear

Denmark qualified for the round of 16 of Euro 2024 thanks to a 0-0 draw against Serbia in Munich.

They finished second behind England, who drew 0-0 with Slovenia in the night’s other match in Group C, by the narrowest of margins. Denmark and Slovenia had completely identical records in the three group matches (including the same number of yellow cards received), but the Danes secure second place thanks to their higher position in the European qualifying table.

Kasper Hjulmand’s side have played three games and drawn three in Germany, and they still can’t get the most out of some of this team’s talents, particularly Manchester United striker Rasmus Hojlund, who was replaced midway through the second half.

Denmark will now face tournament hosts Germany in the round of 16 in Dortmund on Saturday evening. England, meanwhile, will face one of the third-placed teams from Group D, E or F the following afternoon. Slovenia will qualify for the knockout stage as one of the four best third-placed teams.

Peter Rutzler, Seb Stafford-Bloor and Jacob Whitehead analyze the match in Munich…

Denmark should exploit Hojlund’s strengths

Within this team, there is no doubt that Rasmus Hojlund is both Denmark’s brightest attacking talent and its most compelling prospect.

This, however, ignores the fact that he is not quite ready to take on the scale of responsibilities given to him at the top of the pitch. Against Serbia, Kasper Hjulmand took on Hojlund alongside Jonas Wind, a plan which ended in a caution when Wind was booked in the first half and had to be taken off at the break.

From that point on, Hojlund looked horribly isolated, deprived of passes into space or beyond the defensive line that would have allowed his acceleration to become a factor, and unable to retain the ball sufficiently to allow Denmark to build movements around it. Sometimes, when the Danes gained possession in their own half, Hojlund found himself 30, sometimes even 40, meters away from his nearest teammate.

When he was substituted after 58 minutes, it was absolutely the right decision, and yet it seemed to be the result of a failure to create the ideal conditions for him to make an impact, rather than failure technical or tactical on his part. Given the way his team played and their reluctance to play quickly or with advanced numbers, his limited effect was highly predictable.

At 21, Hojlund is still learning and his attacking game will need to be expanded over time, but Denmark already have a dynamic attacking player who they seem reluctant to use in the right way.

Seb Stafford Bloor

Welcome to the worst group of Euro 2024

England have endured quite a bit of heat during this tournament due to their slow football and disappointing start.

But they are not alone. Indeed, their three Group C rivals all played their part.

Welcome to the worst group of this European Championship.

Surprisingly, after six competitive matches, there was only one victory – the fewest of any group in the competition. The win was England’s first 1-0 triumph over Serbia, a true display of Jekyll and Hyde that at least got the pulse racing (perhaps for anxiety as much as excitement, mind).

But not only that. There have also only been seven goals scored in six games. Again, this is the smallest group number in the tournament so far – and also the smallest number in a European Championship group (along with Euro 2016 Group C).

It’s a dismal return.

For Serbia, this return of goals should be particularly disappointing. For a team possessing Aleksandar Mitrovic, Dusan Vlahovic and Luka Jovic in attack, one would expect a better return. Denmark should also do better, with Rasmus Hojlund leading and Christian Eriksen serving.

None of these teams thrilled the crowds at the tournament, with Slovenia, the plucky underdogs of the group, at least managing to cause difficulty for their three superior opponents. England? Well, their form doesn’t need to be mentioned here.

This 0-0, accompanied by a draw between England and Slovenia, triples the number of goalless draws during this Euro. In truth, there was probably no better way to end this group.

Peter Rützler

Djokovic’s recovery takes him to Munich

Jannik Sinner may be world number 1 and Carlos Alcaraz might have dethroned him at Roland Garros and Wimbledon, but Novak Djokovic remains the biggest star in men’s tennis.

Are there any other players who could get practically an entire international soccer team to stop their warm-up and look at their good luck message?

Djokovic was at Munich’s Allianz Arena to support his compatriots against Denmark, an impressive journey considering he has been training in London in recent days. The Serbian player is working to regain fitness in time for Wimbledon, which begins on Monday, after injuring his knee at the French Open last month. The condition of his knee? Not clear. But he moved quite easily in his cream chinos.

Denmark 0 Serbia 0: the Danes advance but Hojlund is isolated and Germany has little to fear

(Sébastien Widmann – UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)

He watched the warm-up from pitchside before heading to a reception area to listen to the national anthems, wearing an official match shirt with “Srbija” and the number 13 on it. The Red Star Belgrade fan has previously described his football heroes as former Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who he considers a “dear friend” and former Fiorentina and Argentina striker Gabriel Batistuta .

Djokovic alone has almost as many Grand Slam trophies (24) as Denmark’s starting XI against Serbia has (30) trophies alone.

Jacob Whitehead

Stojkovic has always made his team’s decisions poorly

Dragan Stojkovic has not been a happy man during this tournament. He has tweaked his Serbia team for every game this group stage, and did so again against Denmark. He opted for more midfielders – four centrally minded ones, in fact, with Dusan Vlahovic and Dusan Tadic having been dropped from the squad.

It was a big call. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t work. For the third consecutive match, Serbia was sluggish in the first half. They had a shot on goal. Stojkovic therefore rolled the dice again. He made two substitutions at half-time, replacing one of the two players he left out, Tadic, as well as Luka Jovic.

Vlahovic then joined the fray midway through the second half. He and Tadic made an impact, but this is the third game in a row where Stojkovic has had to put things right at the break. In total, he made four half-time changes in the three matches. Unfortunately for him, this represents four times more than the number of goals scored by his team.

Serbia lacked any real fluidity and, once again, a talented group underperformed. They will look back on their Euro 2024 with regret, especially since they have still not made it past the group stage of a major tournament.

For a generation of talent championed by the 2015 Under-20 World Cup winners, this is a disappointment.

Peter Rützler

Do the teams in the round of 16 have anything to fear from Denmark?

If Kasper Hjulmand’s team plays like they did against England, then yes. Their central defenders are part of the best group in the tournament, and if Christian Eriksen or Rasmus Hojlund are fit, they should score goals. He is a technical midfielder who knows how to win aerial battles, while showing real creativity on set pieces.

But that said, they have only drawn their three matches. There was a lack of cutting edge – scoring two goals and failing to really dominate the opposition for any sustained period of time. Hjulmand has come under pressure for building his team too conservatively – there are parallels here with England.

Part of the problem is that their depth attack strength is relatively weak – they are left with relatively few ways to change the game if the initial setup doesn’t work. After making two substitutions at the start of the second half against Serbia, changing both strikers, Denmark’s situation took a turn for the worse.

The same problem applies at winger, where Joakim Maehle’s passes are crisp, but he now lacks the raw pace to really disrupt elite defenses.

The real battle in these round of 16 will be whether Germany’s interchangeable attack can break down their solid defence. Denmark won’t win a high-scoring game, but they will have enough threat, whether from set pieces or a moment of magic from Eriksen, to make life difficult.

Jacob Whitehead

What did Kasper Hjulmand say?

“It was a tough, emotional fight, and we knew it would be. It would have been nice to score a goal so we had a buffer, and our hearts were in our throats. I think we should be happy to be done with it. The first objective has been achieved. There are so many things about the game that I like. There are one or two things we can change on offense, but I know we can do it. We have quality. We have so many players we can use there. We can create more situations where we are dangerous.

“We must be happy. We made it through the group stage, so let’s be very happy. We represent Danish football, the thousands of volunteers from different clubs who do excellent work. We are everyone’s team (in the country), and we should be happy about that.

What did Dragan Stojkovic say?

“We are disappointed not to have taken the step we were missing. The match was balanced, we were looking for an opportunity and a goal, but unfortunately we didn’t achieve it. I am proud of my boys. Serbia was positive in a very balanced group.

(Top photo: Carl Recine/Getty Images)

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