The official website for European football

Denmark v Iceland U21 play-off preview

Published: Thursday 9 October 2014, 8.45CET
Denmark coach Jess Thorup is facing "an insanely difficult task" as his side take on a quietly confident Iceland for a place in next summer's U21 finals.
by Peter Bruun & Stefán Stefánsson
Denmark v Iceland U21 play-off preview
Iceland are aiming for another win in Aalborg ©Fótbolti.net
Published: Thursday 9 October 2014, 8.45CET

Denmark v Iceland U21 play-off preview

Denmark coach Jess Thorup is facing "an insanely difficult task" as his side take on a quietly confident Iceland for a place in next summer's U21 finals.

Iceland beat Denmark 3-1 in their last group game at the 2011 finals, played like Friday's first leg at Aalborg Stadion. However, the result left both teams out in a three-way tie for second place behind Belarus.

• Denmark would have been through had it not been for Hjörtur Valgardsson's strike deep into added time; Iceland also finished one goal short.

• That was the only previous time Iceland had even made the play-offs (beating Scotland); they were bottom of their 2013 qualifying group before their recovery this time.

• That was Denmark's only loss to Iceland. Previously they won a 2009 home friendly 3-2, secured a 2-0 victory in Reykjavik the previous year, and earned a 4-0 home victory and 0-0 away draw in 2002 qualifying as well as a 1-1 result at Laugardalsvöllur in 1982.

• Iceland will go into the play-off without striker Jón Dadi Bödvarsson, who has been drafted into the senior squad. Denmark are strengthened by left-back Jonas Knudsen going the other way and dropping back into the U21s.

• Under the current format, Denmark qualified in 2006, exiting in the group stage, and they made the two-legged semi-final in 1992.

Play-off record: Denmark – W1 L3; Iceland – W1 L0

©Getty Images

Action from the 2011 finals fixture

Qualifying campaign
Denmark
: W8 D2 L0 F37 A9 (Group 2 winners)
Iceland
:W5 D1 L2 F20 A11 (Group 10 runners-up)

Denmark drew their third and fourth qualifiers, both against Slovenia, but otherwise had a perfect record, topping the group with a game to spare by beating nearest rivals Russia 4-2 in Aalborg.

Iceland won their first four games but losses against France and Kazakhstan slowed their advance. After beating Armenia 4-0 in September, a 1-1 draw three days later in France thanks to Kristjan Gauti Emilsson's goal ten minutes from time ultimately ensured a play-off spot as one of the four best runners-up.

Coaches' view
Jess Thorup, Denmark: "Many would say that this is a good and easy draw for us, but those people know nothing about Icelandic football. They have some good players, many of whom play abroad in the Netherlands, Italy and Denmark, so it will be an insanely difficult task for us. That said, we have built up some confidence fron ten matches without defeat in qualifying, so we are ready for the challenge."

Eyjólfur Sverrisson, Iceland: "We are going to play a very strong Danish team who we respect, so we see this as a difficult task. However, I am pleased with how my team has been playing recently, and we can build on that for the upcoming two games."

Last updated: 04/06/15 4.07CET

http://www.uefa.com/under21/season=2015/matches/round=2000413/match=2015233/prematch/preview/index.html#denmark+iceland