After their somewhat unexpected win over eight-time European champions, Germany, we spoke to Danish coach, Nils Nielsen about the postponement and how his side overcame the most successful team in European football.
During the pre-match press conference the day before the quarter-final was originally slated to take place, a journalist posed Nielsen the question of how one team can beat Germany. Laughing, the Greenlander replied: “How do you beat Germany? Ask me again after we’ve beaten them!”
So that's just what we did.
Nielsen replied: “To believe in yourself and believe in the fact that you can play against the best because sometimes you get scared and don’t want to pass the ball around. When we started to do that after 15-20 minutes we got a head in the game, I think we were the better team for a while and that gave us a goal at the middle part of the game – not the beginning or end but the middle, we were the better team. And we scored two goals and I’m very happy with that.”
Torrential rain left the pitch looking more like a swimming pool than a football field and despite the tireless work of the volunteers at the tournament the pitch was left unplayable and the knock-out game was postponed to be replayed the following day.
With both teams in the same boat, Nielsen is happy that both him and his opposite number, Steffi Jones agreed to push the match one day, the occasion requiring a pitch not a pool,
“We just sent them home and to bed," he added. "We said we never play Germany, now we have the chance and we have to make this the best match possible.” He continued, “That match deserved a good pitch so everybody was okay with going home yesterday, it’s not that we were afraid to play them – we were ready – but we wanted a better game and the fact that we were allowed to play the next day was better for both teams.”
Sticking to the plan
To say it was a fast start for Germany would be an understatement, Issy Kerschowski opening the scoring less than three minutes in, Denmark left looking considerably off of the pace but digging in, Nielsen was pleased that the team remained calm,
He continued: “That wasn’t a good start and I was like, now the leaders have to step up. But I was very happy with Pernille Harder and Simone Boye because they took control and they managed to keep the team together and we stopped the leak because it was going very badly in the beginning and they stopped it and we got back to our own game and we (all my players) believed in the plan we made before.”
Even on their off-days, Germany are a team that can always find goals one way or another and for this Denmark was prepared,
Nielsen insisted: “And it doesn’t matter if they scored a goal because we talked about it (before) that they might… because they are so good of course they’re going to score but we can easily score two because they’re not as good defending as they are attacking.”
Just one match away from the final in Enschede, Nielsen refuses to let the side begin to dream about the show-piece occasion, the very serious matter of a semi-final against Austria still to come,
“We take it one match at a time but no matter what the semi-final we will prepare very well for it and hopefully we will win.”