Pernille Harder’s Denmark were knocked out in heartbreaking fashion by Spain who booked a spot in the quarter finals as the second seed in Group B. A fascinating clash of styles played between the two teams as Spain dominated possession but Denmark defended with rigor and found ways to hurt Spain on the counter. Both teams entered the game having the same number of points as they both lost to Germany but had beaten Finland. However, Spain needed just a draw to pip Denmark to the qualification as they had a better goal difference. As a result Denmark had a tight line to walk. Show enough ambition to score but not so much as to be exposed at the back as they were against Germany. To their credit, they put in perhaps their best performance of this tournament.
Pernille Harder playing as the lone striker was able to hold it up, lay it off to runners and carry the ball up the pitch and she often had enough support from the young and sparkling Katherine Kuhl and others when Denmark managed to get up the pitch. The middle period of the first half was perhaps Denmark’s best spell in the game as they managed to repeatedly get behind Spain’s defense. Ultimately, the first half remained goalless going with plenty of missed chances for each team to rue upon.
Denmark 0-1 Spain— The Analyst (@OptaAnalyst) July 16, 2022
It hasn't been easy, but Spain are through. pic.twitter.com/RnXyJJLnal
In the second half, Denmark found chances a little harder to come by while Spain continued knocking on the door. The best of these chances fell to veteran Nadia Nadim who was a key part of Denmark’s run to the final in the previous edition. Ultimately, Denmark conceded the goal in heartbreaking fashion in the 90th minute of the game as they attempted to show more ambition and were exposed at the back. Spain countered on a retreating and disorganized Danish backline, with halftime substitutes Olga Cardona and Marta Carmona providing the cross and the finish to break Danish hearts.
Pernille Harder finishes the tournament scoring Denmark’s only goal and having amassed an xG of 1.98 and xA of 0.54. She led them from the front and will be proud of the way they performed in a crunch game, even if the result didn’t go their way. However, she continues to look impressive, quick and sharp and has hopefully put behind last season’s niggles. This only bodes well for Chelsea.
Germany continue to steamroll opposition and won the third game of their group at a canter. They will be facing neighboring Austria who themselves knocked out Reiten and Mjelde as they recorded an impressive win against Norway. With Denmark and Norway out of the tournament, Sweden will likely be the sole representatives from the Scandinavian nations in the latter stages of the tournament.
Finland 0-3 Germany— The Analyst (@OptaAnalyst) July 16, 2022
Not all dominance ends 8-0. pic.twitter.com/RnEYasIDt3
Spain on the other hand will face off against an England team that has scored 14 goals and are yet to concede. The most recent game between the two opponents came in the Arnold Clark Cup ended in a 0-0 draw. Both Germany and Denmark have shown that the Spain backline can be gotten at and given England’s incredible attacking versatility, not to mention the running power of Hemp and Stanway, this gives them a slight edge going into the game. England have recorded the highest number of direct attacks - open-play sequences that start just inside the team’s own half, have at least 50% of movement towards the opposition’s goal and end in a shot or a touch in the opposition box. However, England have not been tested defensively so far in the tournament and in a game where they’re not likely to have the majority of possession, the defenders will have to show incredible levels of concentration.
England’s pressing game also hasn’t been put to test with them recording a middling 11.1 PPDA(opposition passes allowed per defensive action). Spain on the other hand have pressed incredibly well with a PPDA of 6.2. This will also present a challenge to Millie Bright, Leah Williamson and Kiara Walsh, who so far have been allowed to build play from the back to incredible success by their opposition.
Elsewhere standings in Group C and D remain in flux. Magda Eriksson’s Sweden will aim to finish top of the group by winning their final game by beating Portugal and thereby avoiding Group D toppers France in the quarterfinals. Netherlands have been impacted by COVID and some injuries but managed to win in a tight game against Portugal. The Swiss will present a similar challenge to Portugal but Netherlands have the reserves to pull upon and get a win to qualify.
In Group D, Iceland, Italy and Belgium have all to play for in the final matchday of the group stage of this Euro. Iceland will hope to hold France to a draw or better to go through if Belgium vs Italy ends in draw. The winner of Belgium vs Italy will most likely go through unless Iceland pull off an upset and defeat France. All three teams are well matched and qualification may hang in the balance until the final minute.
Good luck to Magdalena Eriksson and Eve Perisset in their upcoming games!