EURO 2012: A Fairy Tale ending when the Danes keep their cool

Yes, the Danish 'fairy tale' tournament got a happy ending!

A week ago I wrote about a ‘Nordic Meltdown’; this was after Denmark had lost against Serbia and Poland in group play, joining the other Nordic teams in having a very poor start of EURO 2012. A year ago, I wrote an article which I illustrated with a famous picture from a Hans Christian Andersen story. When Denmark today kept their cool against a strong Serbian team and surrounded by a fanatic home crowd, winning the European title, then it is again appropriate to talk about a Danish fairy tale of the best H.C. Andersen style.

Denmark deserved this victory after five straight victories in the main round, in the semi-final and today. They also played a concentrated and strong game today and they have a resourceful team: a top-rate goalkeeper, a strong defense, good wing players and several options for the long-distance shooting. Mikkel Hansen was the hero in many games, but when he had an off day, then Rasmus Lauge stepped forward. And they were able to prevail both in high-scoring shoot-outs and in defensive games like today, where the result was 21-19 after a modest 9-7 at half-time.

Serbia had Ilic, Vujin, Vuckovic, goalie Stanic and several other really impressive players. In many games they were ‘carried’ by the crowd support. But today it somehow seemed the pressure and the expectations made the Serbs more nervous than their opponents. Nevertheless, after I saw them in the World Championship a year ago, I never hesitated about predicting that they would be in the final here, and they will certainly be a team that has good chances of remaining at the very top for a while.

The bronze medal game was the kind of anticlimactic game one sometimes gets when two frustrated teams cannot mobilize the right motivation. Croatia managed slightly better than Spain and won the bronze medals through a 31-27 (13-12) victory. During the first 35 minutes, Spain managed to come back every time when Croatia tried to pull away, but later in the game the energy was not there for such come-backs.

The final was played in a very positive atmosphere, with no incidents involving the spectators and a very sportsmanlike atmosphere on the court. The player showed mutual respect, and the referees, Abrahamsen/Kristiansen (Norway), displayed a nice calm control and a good consistent judgment.

Finally, the victory for Denmark also had the implication that they are directly qualified for London and that Poland gained the remaining slot in an Olympic qualifying tournament, taking over Denmark’s slot on account of their ranking in last year’s World Championship. There will be ‘chain reactions’ in the composition of the three qualifying tournaments in April as follows: Group 1: Spain, Poland, Serbia, Algeria; Group 2: Sweden, Hungary, Brazil , FYRO Macedonia; Group 3: Croatia, Iceland, Japan and Chile.