After their group stage win over Norway ensuring qualification to the quarter-finals, Danish 21-year-old Stine Larsen spoke about playing back in her old home in defence and who she’d rather face in the next round.
Up against a wounded Norway side on the brink of Euro 2017 humiliation Denmark were never going to have an easy time in Deventer but a high press from the red and whites early in the game paid off with an early goal. Norway rallied and caused their fair share of problems throughout but after riding the storm Denmark emerged victorious, the team more than happy with the result.
Larsen said: “It was a tough game, we scored very quick then we just had to keep the lead and we did that. But it was a tough, Norway was close to scoring, especially the last minutes of the game but we won and we’re very happy.”
A lengthy injury break late in the second-half gave Norway time to regroup and pressurise their opposition, the word from Denmark during the stoppage was just to continue on as they had been and give the Grasshoppers as little to work with as possible.
“We just have to stay close to each other – not give them space – and keep the lead and keep doing the good work.”
Home from home
A former defender who has put in some eye-catching performances in attack for both club and country, Larsen found herself back in the heart of defence with Simone Boye after a handful of injuries and a suspension left central defenders thin on the ground.
Putting in a solid shift from the outset Larsen is pleased with her performance, able to flex her defensive muscles once again,
“It had been a long time since I played in defence but yeah, it went very well,” she laughs, “it was weird the first minutes but then I just did what I did to win when I played as a defender from one and a half years ago.”
Up against two of the best attackers in the world in Caroline Graham Hansen and Ada Hegerberg, Larsen admits she felt no pressure and she’s more than comfortable against anyone,
“Not really, I just thought about what I had to do, it didn’t matter that I was against very good players, I just did my job.”
When asked which end of the pitch she’d rather be at Larsen is coy but would clearly prefer to be in attack where possible,
“Yeah, I like to be in the attack, up front but today I was a defender and it was kind of fun to see if I could still play back there.”
Not allowing themselves to get ahead of themselves going into the last group game with a fair chance of not progressing, Denmark refused to let themselves be draw in on the idea of the knock-outs and Enschede next month rather taking each game as it comes,
“The focus was fully on this game, we go step-by-step, now we’re in the quarter-final, that’s the next step and we just have to prepare for it.”
“Maybe… Germany is always a good team but let’s see.”
She started before backtracking and surmising that she’s really not sure who she’d prefer, the main focus being that the Danes are prepared correctly for either team both Olympic finalists posing their own problems,
“Sweden and Germany are both good teams but we have beaten Sweden before so think we can maybe we’d have some chances there… I don’t know.”