Denmark look for lift from return of Gronkjaer

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The Independent Online

Denmark must hope for a boost from the return to the squad of striker Jesper Gronkjaer, after they drew their Group C game against Italy 0-0. The Chelsea player landed in Lisbon yesterday after missing the opening days of the tournament following the death of his mother last week.

Denmark must hope for a boost from the return to the squad of striker Jesper Gronkjaer, after they drew their Group C game against Italy 0-0. The Chelsea player landed in Lisbon yesterday after missing the opening days of the tournament following the death of his mother last week.

The winger may play in Denmark's second Group match against Bulgaria on Friday. "We've held a place open for Jesper, and now he feels he's ready to join the squad," said Morten Olsen, the Denmark coach.

Gronkjaer's fellow striker Jon Dahl Tomasson insisted that Denmark have shown they are capable of progressing further after matching Italy in chances created during a game in which both goalkeepers, Denmark's Thomas Sorensen and Italy's Gianluigi Buffon, distinguished themselves.

"Everyone who has seen us play and people who know football should know we are a good team with good players. When you can control a match against a team like Italy clearly you are doing well," Tomasson said. "We could have won, we had the chances and we should have had a penalty."

He added that Denmark had exploited the Italy's difficulties in playing against wingers with Dennis Rommedahl, who took Gronkjaer's place in the line-up, moving wide on the right and Martin Joergensen on the left. "They're not used to playing that way [against wingers]. You can see that with Italian [club] sides, even Milan against Ajax last year," Tomasson said.

Rommedahl said: "We talked a lot about this game. We know we have good players but we knew [Francesco] Totti was crucial for them and thought we could deal with him with one man more in midfield." He added that this ploy had not hampered Denmark's attacking ambitions but rather given them an extra edge: "We were able to use that more to find a free midfielder."

Bulgaria's coach, Plamen Markov, attempted yesterday to rally his players after their heavy defeat against Sweden.

"First of all, we have to try to talk to the players and help them get over this situation," he said. "They're very, very tired and we'll be working on that.

"But we must remember we played very good football until the second goal, so hopefully our performance against Denmark will be different. It is very difficult now for us to say we can qualify after such a defeat, but while we were only 1-0 down, we were still playing well and made chances to equalise.

"We made many individual mistakes and the players are very depressed about the size of the defeat," Markov admitted. "But we still have two matches to play and the players still have their ability and their pride. I am not angry with them. We lost because we made mistakes against a better team.

"You have very little time as a coach to make big changes after a defeat once the tournament starts. We will work hard on our tactics and our fitness and try and lift ourselves. After all we are not out of it yet."

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