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Denmark ready for Sesko challenge in Slovenia opener

Denmark ready for Sesko challenge in Slovenia opener
Denmark ready for Sesko challenge in Slovenia opener

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STUTTGART, Germany : Denmark are confident they are favourites to beat Slovenia in their opening Euro 2024 Group C match but tremain wary of the threat of young striker Benjamin Sesko, manager Kasper Hjulmand said on Saturday.

The Danes edged Slovenia in their qualifying group to reach the tournament in Germany. However, Slovenia have Sesko, 21, leading the line after a superb season with RB Leipzig, scoring 18 goals in all competitions to have major European clubs looking to sign him before he agreed a contract extension.

“In this game we are favourites but we have a lot of respect for Slovenia and they have shown great results, especially against Portugal (2-0 friendly win in March) and we have to do our very best if we want to play our game,” Hjulmand told a press conference.

“Sesko is very fast and he has a great left foot and it’s a player we know and a player we’ve analysed a lot because he’s significant for Slovenia,” the 52-year-old said.

“Sesko is a big star and a young attacker but we are ready for him. I’m happy that we played friendly games (before the tournament) because we played against players that reminded us of him.”

Denmark, European champions in 1992, have a 21-year-old striker of their own in Rasmus Hojlund, though he has made a stuttering start to his career at Manchester United and has not scored in his last four internationals.

Hjulmand, however, is confident Hojlund will make an impact in the tournament.

“Sometimes you have this period where you don’t score a lot of goals but Rasmus always makes a big impression in every game. He’s tough, he’s motivated… the goals will come and sometimes you’re going to have to fight more for the goals and sometimes they go in with every kick,” the manager said.

Hjulmand was joined by midfielder Christian Eriksen who will make his first appearance at a European Championship since his cardiac arrest in the opening game against Finland at Euro 2020.

Denmark went on to reach the semi-finals of that tournament, losing to England before Eriksen returned to playing several months later with a heart-starter device fitted.

“For me, personally, everything more than one game is improvement, but it’s been a goal since the beginning to return at this level,” Eriksen said.

“It’s been three years and a lot of things have happened in that time. It’s not something I think about on a daily basis. I just think about playing football and think about the positives.”

Denmark take on Slovenia at the Stuttgart Arena on Sunday before the other Group C game between Serbia and England in Gelsenkirchen.

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