Denmark dare to dream at home championship
For the first time since 2010, Denmark hosts a Women’s EHF EURO and this could be the perfect opportunity for the Scandinavian side to recapture their former glory.
The national team reigned on planet handball in the late 90s and the 2000s, winning three EHF EURO titles in 1994, 1996 and 2002 along the way, but the new generation has often lived in the shadow of Norway.
If reaching the semi-finals, for the first time since 2016 seems like a realistic goal, Jesper Jensen and his girls may secretly be hoping for something even bigger.
· Denmark have not won an international title since the Olympics in 2004. In the last 16 years, the national team only managed to grab one medal: bronze at the World Championship 2013
· Denmark won the EHF EURO title twice, and a silver medal in 2004. Since then, they played two semi-finals, in 2010 and 2016
· this competition will be the first at the helm for Jesper Jensen, who is also the coach of Team Esbjerg
· only 5 of the 16 players chosen by Jesper Jensen to start the EHF EURO play their club handball outside Denmark
Main question: Is playing at home an advantage for Denmark?
If you look at the records, you could be tempted to answer yes as Denmark won two of their three EHF EURO titles at home, in 1996 and 2002. But more recent history would tell you otherwise, as the 2015 World Championship and the EHF EURO 2010 do not feature Denmark on the podium.
Playing in an arena they know could make the difference, but they will also have to be able to live up to the expectations of a whole nation.
Under the spotlight: Louise Burgaard
The left-hander has had an up and down relationship with the national team for a couple of years, but she has transformed herself since moving to Metz in the summer of 2019 - to the point where one would not understand if the 28-year-old did not feature in the Danish squad.
Denmark’s game has always leaned to the left side of the court but with Burgaard now playing at the top of her game, danger can come from anywhere.
How they rate themselves
“There are two teams ahead of everybody at the moment, Norway and Russia. But we feature among the six, eight teams that can beat anybody,” said coach Jesper Jensen in an interview with ehf-euro.com.
You could understand that Denmark see themselves as some kind of outsiders, not having won a title for so long. But with such top names on the roster, they could very well be one of the massive surprises come the end of December.
What the numbers say
Just one player out of the 16 Jesper Jensen, picked is older than 30 - goalkeeper Sandra Toft, who turned 31 a month ago.
The majority of the squad are in their mid-twenties, giving the impression of a team which might lack some experience but can rely on youthful energy and spirit. A rarity in today’s handball as Norway feature four players older than 30 and Russia have five.
Past achievements :
EHF EURO participations (including 2020): 14
Winners: 1994,1996, 2002
2nd: 1998, 2004
Winners: 1996, 2000, 2004
3rd: 1995, 2013