Soccer-Denmark's attitude key to resurgence, says Tomasson

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Europa League - Round of 32 - Malmo FF News Conference
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By Philip O'Connor

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Former Denmark striker and assistant coach Jon Dahl Tomasson says the way the team has come together after Christian Eriksen collapsed on the pitch at Euro 2020 due to a heart attack shows their positive attitude.

The 44-year-old Tomasson, who is Denmark's joint record goalscorer alongside Poul Nielsen with 52 goals, has been hugely impressed by how the team has rebounded on the back of that trauma and following defeats in their first two games.

Denmark booked their spot in the last 16, where they will face Wales in Amsterdam on Saturday, with a 4-1 win over Russia in their final Group B game.

"I think it's a brilliant side, brilliant lads playing together, they want to do things together," Tomasson, who as assistant to former Denmark coach Age Hareide steered them through their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign, told Reuters.

"If you look at the way they are performing, the way they are acting as a team when things happened with Christian, it was amazing - it says a lot about their attitude.

"They have a good attitude on the pitch as well, and of course they got a good result against Russia the other day, so they're looking forward to playing the game in Amsterdam against Wales," he added.

Shellshocked following Eriksen's collapse, Denmark lost 1-0 to Finland and 2-1 to Belgium before beating Russia, thanks in no small part to captain Simon Kjaer, who has rallied the team together.

"I know Simon very well, I played with him as well. He's a tremendous boy, a born captain, he takes care of everybody, he takes care of the team, takes care of the people around the team," Tomasson said.

"He's a real good character who wants to win, but who wants to get everybody on board. A very important person for the Danish side, and he has done a tremendous job as captain as well."

Another player that has impressed Tomasson is 20-year-old Sampdoria winger Mikkel Damsgaard, who was asked to shoulder the burden of replacing Eriksen's creativity and responded with a stunning opening goal in the 4-1 win over Russia.

"He's a young lad who has already played a lot of games in Italy this season ... he left Denmark a year and a half ago, and now he's playing a European Championship," Tomasson said.

"He's performing and doing well. He's tremendous, and he has a big future -- a huge future."

Tomasson believes Denmark's tactical flexibility can be the foundation for their success at Euro 2020.

"They are playing a different system from the first game and the second and the third. I think the Danish team is solid, it's been solid for years and I think it's an interesting team to watch," he said.

"There's a lot of quality, and it's not just 11 players, it's more or less the whole squad playing in big clubs around Europe."

Tomasson, who left the Danish setup to take over as manager of Malmo in January 2020 and won the Swedish title in his first season, said Wales will hold few surprises for Denmark.

"We've already played Wales in the Nations League of course (in 2018), and won against them at that time. It's a great side with a lot of quality," he said.

Impressed by Denmark's unity and flexibility so far, Tomasson said they would need to play with intensity to make the quarter-finals.

"To be honest I haven't seen Wales (at the Euros), but I can tell you that the intensity that Denmark is playing with, it's important to play with that same intensity (on Saturday)," he said.

(Reporting by Philip O'Connor; Editing by Toby Davis)

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