UEFA.com works better on other browsers
For the best possible experience, we recommend using Chrome, Firefox or Microsoft Edge.

Healthy competition in Denmark defence

Morten Olsen must decide whether Simon Kjær or the in-form Andreas Bjelland will partner Daniel Agger in the heart of the Denmark defence in Saturday's Netherlands match.

Andreas Bjelland is hoping his excellent season will help him make Morten Olsen's XI
Andreas Bjelland is hoping his excellent season will help him make Morten Olsen's XI ©Getty Images

One incident which got people talking after Denmark's friendly against Australia was the introduction at half-time of Andreas Bjelland, the 23-year-old replacing Simon Kjær at the heart of the defence and scoring his side's second goal.

Many commentators believe this suggests that coach Morten Olsen is yet to decide who he will field alongside captain Daniel Agger in the heart of defence. Kjær is eight months Bjelland's junior but played seven times in qualifying while the latter appeared only twice. Yet Bjelland's confidence is sky-high having helped FC Nordsjælland to their first Danish title and earned the Danish league's Coaches' Player of the Year award for the second time.

The 23-year-old has won six caps already and, having captained Denmark in last summer's UEFA European Under-21 Championship and is relishing the chance to step up. "It's great to be here," he said. "You can feel already that this is a little bigger than the U21 championship. I hope to get the chance to play. I just have to do my very best in training and then we will see how far it takes me. Competition between players is well known in club football but here you have to be even more alert as simple mistakes could allow another player to take your place."

Kjær has played 24 times for his country and has the experience of involvement at the 2010 FIFA World Cup. "It's all positive having competition," the VfL Wolfsburg centre-back said. "I can't say who'll get the nod. I'll keep focused on my game then it's up to others to decide."

Agger, the one man guaranteed a place, told UEFA.com: "It doesn't matter who's the player next to me. Everybody knows the system. The competition is healthy, it always is." As for the man who has the final say, Morten Olsen is happy to have options. "We need more than just 11 players," the coach said. "Some are similar to one another while others are different. This might give one player the upper hand when it comes to certain opponents. Most of all it depends on a player's form."