Darida and co ‘ready’ for Denmark test

James Mason
July 2nd 2021, 3:54 pm
Last Updated 3 years ago
Darida and co 'ready' for Denmark test

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Czech captain Vladimir Darida is under no illusions as regards the difficulty of the task awaiting his side, as they gear up to face Denmark on Saturday evening for a place in the Euro 2020 semi-finals.

The Hertha Berlin man claims his comrades see themselves as outsiders going into the last-eight clash with fellow surprise package Denmark.

“We do not see it that we are favourites, but we want to succeed,” he announced to the media at the pre-match press conference on Friday afternoon.

Of the 20 nations who qualified directly for this summer’s tournament without the need for a play-off, only two were ranked lower than the Czech Republic at the time of the group stage draw – Wales and debutants Finland.

Yet while Wales bowed out emphatically to Denmark in the previous round – the Finns failing to progress from Group B altogether – Jaroslav Silhavy’s charges have continued to surprise.

Those inside Hampden Park on June 14 were treated to a fine display of alertness and finesse from attacking revelation Patrik Schick, whose looping lob of Scotland’s David Marshall from improbable range sealed both a brace and a 2-0 opening win.

Matching Luka Modric’s Croatia step-for-step on their second outing, the Czechs came into the final Group C clash atop the pile, crucially guaranteed qualification ahead of their date with England at Wembley.

Beaten for the first and only time in the competition, the Moravians kept themselves in a contest throughout, earning themselves progression to the knockout phase for a fourth time at the Championships since their debut as an independent entity in 1996.

Frank de Boer’s Netherlands beckoned in the round of 16, but were duly swept aside by Tomas Holes’ header and a fourth goal in as many games for Schick, the underdogs capitalising on Matthijs de Ligt’s VAR-assisted red card for handball.

But Darida is keen to keep feet on terra firma.

“When you say Denmark, it may not sound as strong as the Netherlands, France or Italy, but we are fully aware that it is a very strong opponent,” the 75-cap skipper added. “They are really strong as a team.”

Silhavy, too, was keen to downplay his side’s chances, saying: “Their style is similar to ours. We know they may miss some players like (Yussuf) Poulsen, (Simon) Kjaer and others, but they have very good replacements.”

The Danes’ successful turnaround of their double-defeat start to the campaign saw them record resounding wins over Russia and the Welsh. Their 4-1 and 4-0 victories even earned a place in European Championship history, becoming the first side to net four or more goals in successive games – though Spain would go one better just two days later.

Captain Kjaer was taken off in the latter stages of the last-16 encounter in Amsterdam, while RB Leipzig’s Poulsen was sidelined after injury against Russia.

The Czech Republic have their own fitness concerns to contend with though; Darida himself re-joined the team’s preparations fully on Friday having picked up a knock in training.

“Nothing has been 100% decided yet on who will start,” his coach informed. “Darida is fit. There is also Jan Boril available and it is a topic whether to opt for him or Pavel Kaderabek.”

The Czechs won the competition in 1976 under the banner of Czechoslovakia, while Denmark famously claimed the European title in 1992.

James Mason

James is a regular commentator / reporter on all leagues across Europe and also has a wealth of written experience covering top-level football.