In a tournament where we’ll be treated the brilliance of names like Leo Messi, Robin Van Persie, Fernando Torres and Wayne Rooney – Nicklas Bendtner has claimed he hopes to be leaving South Africa having beat the above names to the illustrious Golden Boot award.
Bendtner, 22, is no stranger to the odd, enigmatic statement which leave most of us scratching our head and wondering if the young Dane has a history of mental-illness, specifically Delusions. While in reality it’s fair to say the towering Dane’s off-the-pitch statements do not match his on-the-pitch performances and the surname Bendtner isn’t syonymous with greatness just yet – it would however be unfair to dismiss his ability and it would be a mistake to not acknowledge him as a threat to the opposition defence and key to Denmark.
In a domestic campaign which saw the towering Dane sidelined for 3 months of the season he still managed to accumulate a personal best of 12 goals including an impressive hat-trick in the Champions League. In qualifying Bendtner proved himself a key-player by scoring 4 goals in total including goals home and away against Portugal.
While Bendtner is not the most technically-gifted player in the world, his 6’4 frame and aerial ability will certainly pose threats and make him a nuisance to defend against. Denmark manager Morten Olsen will be looking to Bendtner to produce the goals that ensure Denmark’s progression from a tricky group consisting of Japan, Cameroon and the Netherlands.
Since Peter Schmeichel’s retirement in 2001, Thomas Sorenson has been an ever-present for Denmark and is no stranger to the World Cup atmosphere and pressure having being part of the Danish squad that last participated in the tournament in 2002.
The Stoke City man enjoyed a successful domestic campaign with The Potters having conceded just 35 goals in 38 league matches and was instrumental in ensuring Stoke City’s highest top-flight finish in many years
However, every Dane in the nation is now sweating on the fitness of their shot-stopper after he suffered a dislocated elbow in a collision with Solomon Kalou in Stoke’s defeat to Chelsea in April.
It’s widely believed the most important player on any football pitch is the goalkeeper and Denmark will be hoping Sorenson will be back between the sticks in time for June 14th for their Netherlands clash where his inclusion is paramount when faced with the Dutch boasting the attacking qualities such as Robin Van Persie, Ibrahim Afellay & Arjen Robben.
Christian Poulsen, a defensive midfielder with a commanding presence in the middle of the park is an important element in the Danish squad having being named as their player of the year twice in back-t0-back years. Currently at Juventus, Poulsen made 25 appearances last season for the Italian side despite having being told by Juventus manager that he would play no part in the season with the introduction of Felipe Melo, such the quality of Poulsen he persisted and was rewarded with playing-time by Juventus.
Possessing a warrior’s spirit, Poulsen would have been right at home as a Viking on a battlefield thousands of years ago and while the Viking era has long since passed, their spirit remains inside the long-haired Dane who’s presence will spark anxiety among the opposition as they will know they’re in for a difficult 90 minutes.
If Christian Poulsen has one flaw, it’s his temper. Having been recipient of more cards than the world’s eldest person and with a disciplinary record stretching as long as the boat’s the Vikings used as transport, Denmark manager Morten Olsen will need to keep the Dane on a short-leash and find the correct balance between maintaining discipline whilst allowing Poulson to play to his fiery, aggresive strengths.
Jon Dahl Tomasson
Having perfected the art of being in the right place at the right time and possessing a natural knack of scoring vital goals, a seasoned Jon Dahl Tomasson will captain his nation in South Africa this June with one eye on journeying as far as possible with Denmark and another eye on surpassing an achievement set by Poul Nielsen by becoming his nation’s all time leading goalscorer.
Tomasson, sitting on 51 goals for Denmark is trailing by one with Nielsen on 52 and the veteran striker will lick his lips at the prospect as he already boasts an impressive World Cup record having scored 4 of Denmark’s 5 goals during their 2002 campaign.