Diarmuid Kearney has been looking back through the Danish football records to bring you a series tracing the country’s football team’s history.
Part 4 - The fall from grace
Despite winning Euro 92 Denmark would enter another mixed period until the early 2000s. In August 1993, one year after the European Championship win, Michael Laudrup decided to settle his ongoing dispute with Richard Møller Nielsen about the team tactics and made a comeback to the national team.
The following years saw Denmark recording mixed results, as they first failed to qualify for the 1994 World Cup, but then won the 1995 Confederations Cup, beating Copa América champions Argentina 2–0 in the final.
As defending champions at Euro 1996, Denmark were not able to continue its previous success, but disappointed with a lacklustre performance after an early elimination in the group stage.
Results-wise, the tournament was not a complete disaster, as the team had achieved a respectable win against Turkey, a draw against Portugal and only a defeat to Croatia.
When Croatia faced Denmark at Euro '96... pic.twitter.com/0HfkKOCnmb— 90s Football (@90sfootball) July 1, 2018
The reason why both the coach and team faced strong criticism after the tournament was mainly because of the defensive and "boring" playing style.
With the DBU's decision to extend Richard Møller Nielsen's contract as head coach, there was a strained relationship to the press already ahead of Euro 1996. Facing a new wave of criticism, Nielsen reached a mutual agreement with the DBU to terminate his contract by the end of June 1996.
Nielsen's replacement was Swede, Bo "Bosse" Johansson, who gave the team a more offensive strategy, the 1998 World Cup saw a comeback for the Danish team, with both Laudrup brothers featuring in their last international campaign.
After defeating Saudi Arabia 1–0, drawing 1-1 with South Africa and losing 2–1 to eventual champions France in rather poor matches, the Danish team advanced to the knockout stages finishing second in the group.
In their next match, Denmark played some of the best football of the entire tournament, as they managed to defeat Nigeria 4–1 in a fantastic game. In the quarter-final against Brazil, the Danes were knocked out in a 3-2 defeat to the eventual runners up.
As the new century began, Danish manager Johansson set his sights on qualifying for Euro 2000, but would need to do so for the first time without the Laudrup brothers. When Denmark managed to qualify under Johansson, he received significant praise with the way Denmark had performed in qualifying.
However Denmark were disappointing at Euro 2000, with back to back 3-0 defeats at the hands of the Netherlands and eventual winners France, along with a 2-0 defeat to the Czech Republic dumped the Danes out in the group stage.
After the tournament Johansson was heavily criticized for his squad selection, which contained several players with injury problems and were also in poor form, Johansson was sacked shortly after.
Next up - The Olsen Gang