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02.01.2016, 10:00
Denmark ready to go for third title at EHF EURO 2016
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EHF EURO COUNTDOWN #4: After having won in 2008 and 2012, the Danes are aiming to claim their third championship plate in eight years come the final tournament in Poland
 

Denmark ready to go for third title at EHF EURO 2016

Denmark enter the Men’s EHF EURO 2016 as one of the top contenders for the title. The team’s results in the test matches as well as a look at the Danish squad give coach Gudmundur Gudmundsson and the rest of the nation reason to dream of something big come January.

The team’s strengths

The most outspoken strengths of the team are the depth of the squad and its versatility. Gudmundsson can rely on a solid 6-0 defence with a particularly strong central block in front of an improving Niklas Landin in goal. No matter whether Jannick Green or Kevin Møller is picked as back-up to Landin, Gudmundsson is sure to have a reliable keeper duo.

Part of the pay-off of this strong defence should be plenty of those so-called easy goals that come from counter attacks. For that part of the game, Denmark have fast and consistent wings such as Hans Lindberg and Lasse Svan on the right and Anders Eggert and Casper Ulrich Mortensen on the left.

In the established attack, Denmark´s coach also has many options. For instance, Denmark have better options on the right back than many other teams. The trio, consisting of Mads Christiansen, Nikolaj Øris Nielsen and Peter Balling, with all three being equally good, is quite impressive

On the left back position Mikkel Hansen is a shoo-in, while Michael Damgaard has vastly improved playing at SC Magdeburg, and the rising star from Kolding Kobenhavn, Lasse Andersson, is also knocking at the door of the national team.

On the line there is also a multitude of highly qualified players to choose from: Even without the injured Rene Toft Hansen - Toft Hansen #2, Henrik, and Jesper Noddesbo are still a powerful combination.

The team’s weakness

It would probably be impossible to find a team without weaknesses, and this is also the case with Denmark, no matter how Gudmundur Gudmundsson decides to put his team together.

René Toft Hansen's injury has obviously increased Gudmundsson's problems, as he has to replace a crucial player in the central defence.

Furthermore, it may sound as a bit of a paradox, but the strong central block in the defence might involve some kind of a problem, as it takes at least two changes between attack and defence to form the right central block.

When Jesper Nøddesbo plays on the line in attack, he will probably have to be substituted by either Henrik Toft, Henrik Møllgaard or Klaus Thomsen – if he is nominated – in defence.

Substitutions between defence and attack can only be avoided in situations when Møllgaard and Henrik Toft are playing at both ends of the court.

Another possible weakness could be the lack of sufficiently qualified playmakers. Rasmus Lauge has done marvelously in that position in Denmark´s latest matches, but when he is not on the court, the position may present a problem.

Mads Mensah Larsen or Morten Olsen are the possible substitutes, but none of them has reached Lauge’s level in the national team yet.

The team’s star

It is obvious that Mikkel Hansen is the big star in the Danish team. In many people’s opinion, the 28-year-old left back from PSG Handball is the best handball player in the world right now, and it will be crucial to the Danish hopes to finish at the top that Hansen is at his best.

However, while Hansen’s shots and his ability to read the game are outstanding, the Danes do not depend as much on him anymore as they used to. Several other back court players have proven their ability to take over – Michael Damgaard in particular – so even though Mikkel Hansen is still crucial to the Danish team, he is not that crucial anymore.

The team’s hidden gem

Michael Damgaard is not only a perfect substitute for Mikkel Hansen, he is also one of the Danish players likely to make an entry with a bang at the EHF EURO 2016.

The 25-year-old left back has really benefited from his transfer from Team Tvis Holstebro to SC Magdeburg ahead of this season. Already before leaving the Danish league, he was a great shooter but he has really improved in the German Bundesliga.

Damgaard is the main reason, why the Danes are not as dependent on Mikkel Hansen, as they once were. In January in Poland, we will undoubtedly see why. Michael Damgaard may stun us all.

The outlook

While Denmark starts like all its opponents with zero points and eight matches to play in just over two weeks, if they want to top the podium, there is no doubt that Denmark will fight for the gold come the EHF EURO 2016.


TEXT: Peter Bruun / ts
 
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