Euro 2020 players in their 16s: Kasper Dolberg

Denmark has been forced to overcome many obstacles so far at Euro 2020 – Christian Eriksen’s alarming collapse is, of course, the most remarkable of all.

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Subsequent setbacks may seem insignificant, impossible to compare with a life-threatening incident that continues to overshadow the team’s outstanding performances on the field. But in addition to fighting on without their talisman, Denmark has had to recover after losing its first two matches to advance from Group B.

An epic 4-1 victory against Russia ensured that they did, finished in second place and secured a final 16 match with Wales in the more favorable half of the draw.

Yussuf Poulsen was excluded from the initial knockout match with a thigh injury and deprived Denmark of the forward who had scored in his previous two matches.

Instead of letting that question disrupt their speed, Denmark turned to Kasper Dolberg. According to the Opta player index, the Nice striker delivered the performance in the round in a sensational 4-0 victory.

Even when Kasper Hjulmand was forced to reconfigure his attack in Eriksen’s absence, hand over a prominent role to Mikkel Damsgaard and encourage creativity from other areas on the pitch where Joakim Maehle and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg forced, Dolberg saw defeat against Finland and Belgium from the bench.

KASPER DOLBERG VALUE POST ✅ # ForDanmark # EURO2020 @Dolbergofficial

– DBU – Part Of Something Bigger (@DBUfodbold) June 26, 2021

A role as an unused substitute in a couple of narrow losses does not speak to confidence in the striker, who only got half an hour against Russia after Poulsen had scored. It was Dolberg’s second appearance at a major tournament – his first, at the 2018 World Cup, lasted for 15 minutes in a goalless draw against France.

However, he will never forget his third. Dolberg played only 70 minutes but won the match with two goals during that time, his performance ranked by Opta behind only Robert Lewandowski’s own two-goal display against Sweden.

The former Ajax man was back in familiar surroundings in Amsterdam, where he scored a career-high 16 league goals in 2016-17.

Dolberg’s career has not gone completely according to plan since, with just six goals – one every 321.5 minutes – for Nice in Ligue 1 last semester, but his obvious talent was in place when he netted with two of four attempts worth a total of 1.08 expected goals on Saturday.

And Denmark’s latest hero still has time on his side. Only 23 years old, he is the country’s youngest goal scorer in the knockout phase of a European Championship.

At the international level, Dolberg is already proven. He has eight goals since the beginning of 2019, only after Eriksen (11). With speed and a nice pull on their side, Denmark – led by Damsgaard, Maehle and now Dolberg – will be convinced that they can continue a remarkable run and ensure that a difficult tournament is remembered mainly for the right reasons.

Of course, the silverware won at Euro 1992 is still the benchmark.

Henrik Larsen’s semi-final competition helped Denmark on its way to a fantastic triumph – it was previously the former European Champions’ only tournament double until Dolberg got his big chance.

Opponents in the quarterfinals against the Czech Republic now face a man in shape.

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