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Denmark desperate for ice-cool edge in Iceland

Denmark are hoping for better luck "trying to push an elephant through a keyhole" as they head to Iceland keen for the edge that eluded them in their goalless play-off opener.

The Laugardalsvöllur Stadium in Reykjavik will stage the second leg
The Laugardalsvöllur Stadium in Reykjavik will stage the second leg ©KSÍ

Denmark are expecting another rigorous test of their creative edge as they head to Iceland frustrated by their failure to score in the home leg of their 2015 UEFA European Under-21 Championship play-off.

Jess Thorup's side were held to a 0-0 draw in Aalborg on Friday due to a staunch defensive performance from Iceland, with the visitors denying them a goal for the first time on the road to the finals. Denmark had headed into the play-offs as the highest scoring team in Europe, finding the net 37 times in ten games, and they will need to rediscover their touch if they are to book a ticket to the Czech Republic.

"I think Iceland underestimated how important it would be for them to get an away goal because if they keep us from scoring for 180 minutes, they'll really deserve to go through – even if they don't play the most entertaining brand of football," said Denmark midfielder Lasse Christensen.

"It was very frustrating, especially in the second half," he added. "It was like trying to push an elephant through a keyhole. It seemed impossible and, if they play like that again, the game will probably have to be decided by luck."

Denmark have called up forward Emil Berggreen in anticipation of another stiff challenge in front of goal, and defender Jannik Vestergaard is certainly expecting a similar level of defensive commitment from their opponents. "It's likely they'll use the same tactic again and hope to score from a set piece because they've shown throughout qualifying that they are dangerous from set plays."

Iceland are certainly conscious of the need to add more of an attacking edge of their own in Reykjavik, but they are reluctant to reveal how they will approach Tuesday's decider. "It's at our home ground and we have to win there, but we still have to go into the game mindful of the need to keep another clean sheet," said midfielder Orri Sigurdur Ómarsson.

"I can't guarantee that you will see a different approach from our team, or if we'll play offensively or defensively. We have to score – that's how it is. But I think we have a better chance in Iceland."

Defender Brynjar Gudjónsson agrees with that assessment, particularly if the weather conditions favour his side. "It's always different to play at home," he explained. "You have the fans behind you and don't forget the weather in the middle of October. In Iceland, you never know what you will get. I haven't seen the forecasts, but it wouldn't surprise me if it's going to be windy and snowy." Denmark will be hoping they can heat things up all the same.