Watch: Wales used to being the underdogs ahead of Denmark clash
Gareth Bale has embraced Wales’ underdogs tag, with Euro 2020 rivals Denmark counting on support from all over Europe following Christian Eriksen’s cardiac arrest.
Inter Milan midfielder Eriksen collapsed on the pitch during Denmark’s tournament opener against Finland in Copenhagen on June 12 and is currently recovering at home.
Denmark qualified for the knockout stage on a wave of emotion and have become a lot of people’s ‘second team’ after what happened to Eriksen.
But skipper Bale, speaking ahead of Saturday’s round-of-16 clash in Amsterdam, said Wales were familiar with being underdogs.
“That’s normal anyway,” said the Real Madrid forward.
“We’re always the underdogs and used to that tag. It doesn’t make a difference to us.
“Obviously we understand the situation that happened with them and we’ve sent all our best wishes to Christian.
“What a great job the Denmark team did with that. But it won’t have any bearing on the game.
“The players have been in situations before where teams are favourites and supported more.
“Against Turkey they had 18,000 fans in the stadium (when Wales won their group game in Baku 2-0), so it makes no difference.
“When it comes to kick-off it will be just us players on the pitch focusing on the game.”
Eriksen was the star performer in both games when Denmark completed a Nations League double over Wales in 2018.
The Danes triumphed 2-0 in Aarhus and 2-1 in Cardiff and have won six of the 10 games between the two countries.
“The last time we played them we were in more of a transition and younger players were coming in,” Bale said.
“With the time that’s passed we’ve got better and improved as a team.
“We’ve got more players now and we’re more comfortable with each other.
“Hopefully we can prove on the pitch that we’re a much better team.”
Wales must attempt to claim a first-ever win in Holland without any of their fans present in a 16,000-strong crowd at the Johan Cruyff Arena.
Supporters coming from Wales are banned because the United Kingdom is not on Holland’s safe list of countries.
Denmark, as a country in the European Union, are able to have their citizens avoid quarantine in Holland by spending less than 12 hours in the country. Around 4,400 Denmark fans are expected in Amsterdam.
“We don’t have our fans in the stadium, which is disappointing,” said Bale, who confirmed that Wales had practised penalties in the event of a spot-kick contest after extra time.
“But as players that’s something we’re a little bit used to.
“We know the occasion we’re in, at a big tournament, and every game we play we feel it’s a big game.
“We just have to play the game and not think of the occasion.”
Asked if Wales were dreaming of going deep into the tournament, Bale replied: “We’re just thinking of this game.
“We don’t need to be dreaming of anything other than playing this game.
“It’s another big challenge. We know Denmark are a very good team, very well-organised and have some very good players.
“So they won’t be underestimated by us. We’ll be ready to go come kick-off and put in a big performance.”