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EURO 2012 Preview
Denmark dreams of another miracle
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Denmark won its only major trophy in 1992, when it did not even qualify for the European championship. Just weeks before the start of the event, Denmark replaced war-torn Yugoslavia in the finals.

Denmark escaped its group with Sweden, ahead of England and France, and then a win over the Netherlands in the semifinals and a win over Germany in the final secured a miracle title.

Goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel was the anchor 20 years ago, and the Danes head to Poland and Ukraine, co-hosts for Euro '12, with another Schmeichel, Kasper, on the roster. Kasper is the son of Peter Schmeichel, and also a goalkeeper.

This time, Kasper Schmeichel - a late addition to the squad - will likely be a spectator. But the position that anchored Denmark's run two decades ago could be the difference again this year.

But this time, it's because Denmark will be without its clear No. 1 goalkeeper in Thomas Sorensen. The 35-year-old Sorensen was pulled out of the team at the last minute, meaning he will miss out on his fifth big tournament in 11 years.

Sorensen was injured in a pre-tournament friendly against Brazil, and the back injury was too risky to keep him on the Euro roster.

Stephan Andersen, who plays for French side Evian, replaced Sorensen following the injury in the Brazil match to earn his ninth cap - more than 90 fewer than Sorensen - and could earn the nod in the finals.

"I'm ready to play," Andersen said, "if (coach) Morten Olsen chooses me."

Olsen admitted the loss of Sorensen was a "severe handicap," and Andersen - if he is the starter in Euros - will have to step up in the toughest group in the tournament. Anders Lindegaard, capped five times, is the other option.

Denmark is in Group B with Germany, the Netherlands and Portugal - three teams ranked in the top five in the world. Denmark, ranked 10th, is also a good team and will be no pushover, but there will be little margin for error.

However, in 1992, Denmark picked up just one point from its first two games in group play as it tied England 0-0 and lost to Sweden 1-0, but a 2-1 victory in the group finale over France earned second place and a knockout berth.

This time, Denmark should not be looked at as an underdog, as it won its group in qualifying over Portugal. But Denmark, which has a veteran presence in both Dennis Rommedahl and Christian Poulsen, will face a huge task.

Nicklas Bendtner needs a breakout event internationally as the Arsenal forward - with 18 goals in 47 games for Denmark - admitted "this summer is important to me." And the defense needs to be good as well, led by captain Daniel Agger, with major questions in goal.

OUTLOOK

Denmark would be the team to beat in Group A, and be in position to advance in both Group C or D, but the "Group of Death" that includes three-time World Cup winner and three-time Euro winner Germany, three-time World Cup runner-up and one-time Euro champion the Netherlands and Cristiano-Ronaldo led Portugal will be too much for the Danes to produce another miracle. Do not be surprised with a third-place finish, but the top two spots seem out of reach.

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