When Denmark and Belgium take the pitch on Thursday morning at Parken Stadium in Copenhagen, Denmark, it will once again be an emotional affair, and not just for the Danes. Sure Kevin De Bruyne is set to return for Belgium. The headline before the match, however, is still the absence of Denmark’s forward Christian Eriksen.
A Nod to Eriksen
In Denmark’s first match of the tournament against Finland, Eriksen collapsed on the field of play and had to be revived. Recovering now, tests at the hospital determined that the 29-year-old had suffered cardiac arrest. Denmark still battled through the shock and completed their match, a loss to Finland.
In the moments that followed the incident, the news spread across the tournament and locally, notably reaching the Belgians. Later that day, after scoring a goal against Russia, Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku went to the TV camera to wish Eriksen well. Lukaku and Eriksen are teammates at Inter Milan, and Lukaku will lead a players’ nod to Eriksen at 10’ in Thursday’s game. Belgium will kick the ball out of bounds at the time marker in a nod to Eriksen, who wears number 10 on his shirt.
Denmark vs Belgium Match Info
|What||Denmark vs Belgium|
|When||Thursday, June 16 at 12:00 p.m. ET|
|Where||Parken Stadium, Copenhagen, Denmark|
|TV Broadcast||ESPN (USA)|
|Live Stream||PremiumTV (Worldwide)|
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Belgium vs Denmark Euro 2020 preview
Belgium: They aren’t quite back to full force, but the roster is at least on the mend for Belgium as prolific midfielder Kevin De Bruyne makes his return. After suffering facial injuries when playing with Manchester City in the Champions League final, De Bruyne was able to join his team at the Euros, but not take the pitch. He’d been sidelined until receiving clearance to play at least some minutes against Denmark, according to ESPN.
The Belgians would’ve preferred his services against Russia, but they weren’t needed. The stacked roster still picked up three points in the 3-0 victory. Lukaku picked up a pair of goals in securing the win, already matching his output from the 2016 tournament. With the offense taking care of business, goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois had an easy afternoon against Russia. He faced just one shot on goal the whole match. Denmark likely won’t pose much more of a threat.
Denmark: Recovering from his heart episode, Eriksen will be with Denmark in spirit, likely watching Thursday’s match from his hospital room down the road from the stadium. Unfortunately, that won’t help much. His absence from the pitch will see Denmark compete without the heartbeat of their offense. He’s been their leader on offense at the Qualifiers, 2018 World Cup, 2018 WC Qualifiers, and 2020-2021 Nations League. He scored 21 goals across those contests.
In Eriksen’s absence, the focus of the Danes may turn to defense, just hoping to force a 0-0 draw. Should they need to score, they’ll likely look for it to come from the young Jonas Wind or Thomas Delaney. Help from anyone would be welcome, and Denmark is trying to figure out who. Ten other players attempted shots on goal against Finland. The offense is a second thought, however, as Kasper Schmeichel in goal will get the full attention of Belgium.
Group B Standings
All-time, Denmark is 0-2 versus Belgium, with both contests taking place in the UEFA Nations League in 2020. The Danes lost by two goals in both matches, first losing 0-2 inside Parken Stadium, then 2-4 in Belgium. Even with Eriksen, this match was likely to go Belgium’s way, and without him it only confirms it. Look for Belgium to pick up three more points while taking the match 3-1.