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Watch: Denmark step up Women’s Euro 2022 preparations with Malta qualifier

Denmark need no introduction in the women’s game.

Milan’s Sara Thrige opens up about Denmark’s Women’s World Cup qualifier against Malta. Video: Gianluca Lia

The Scandinavian side is statistically one of the best 20 countries in the world and is a powerhouse in the European game.

They are the current 2017 European Championship runners-up and they are determined to go one step further when they launch their 2022 Women’s Euro campaign in England, this summer.

Coached by Lars Sondergaard, the Danes are well-placed to qualify for the 2023 Women’s World Cup which will be organised in Australia and New Zealand.

For Denmark, this would be their first appearance since the 2007 edition and their fifth overall. Their best result was obtained in their first two appearances, when they reached the quarter-finals on both occasions.

“From now onwards, every training session and every game will serve as a preparation for the upcoming European championships,” Denmark’s right winger Sarah Thrige told the Times of Malta.

“At the same time, the World Cup qualifiers remain an important commitment for us as well.”

Denmark’s squad is composed of several stars that have made a name for themselves throughout their careers such as Pernille Harder, of Chelsea, the Danes’ women’s team leading scorer with 67 goals and Reading’s Sanne Troelsgaard, who is second in the all-time appearances list with 160 caps for the Scandinavian nation.

Other players that are having a solid season at club level and are starting to breakthrough into the Denmark’s national team include Thrige herself.

Thrige has already faced Malta in the previous encounters, including in the first round of this qualification campaign where she also scored in the 7-0 victory in Viborg.

She was part of the expedition that took part in February’s Algarve Cup where Denmark was forced to play only one game due to the COVID-19 situation that hampered their schedule.

Their only fixture was a 1-0 defeat to Italy from which they want to bounce back, starting from tomorrow’s away qualifier at the Centenary Stadium.

“For us, it’s very important to bounce back and to show that we are better than we were against Italy,” Thrige said.

“At the same time, it is a World Cup qualifier so it is fundamental for us that we collect the three points.”

The last three encounters between Denmark and Malta were a one-sided affair, with the Danes scoring 25 goals in total.

Thrige collected her first international cap in 2020, when Denmark played in the Algarve Cup held in Portugal.

Since then, she made 11 appearances for the Scandinavian nation and scored two goals.

They are expected to dominate this game again but Thrige is wary about the challenges that minnows like Malta can offer on the international stage.

“We have to be cautious because if they stay compact and are aggressive, that could be a difficulty for us,” she explained.

“We must have possession so that we are in control of the ball and eventually of the game.”

Thrige, 25, is in her debut season at Milan with whom she played 13 games in the Serie A Femminile.

Serie A growth 

The Rossonere, led by former Serie A player Maurizio Ganz, sit third on 40 points.

They are five points away from the final UEFA Women’s Champions League spot, currently occupied by Roma and with two games left it seems that the Giallorosse will be making their European debut next season.

Before joining Milan, Thrige plied her trade in Denmark with Fortuna Hjorring, one of the best teams in the women’s game in Scandinavia.

She played 10 games in the Champions League between 2018-19 and 2020-21 before embarking in the Italian game.

The women’s Serie A, which is set to become fully professional as from next season, has proved to be an important challenge for the Denmark international.

“I think the women’s game in Italy has grown a lot,” she pointed out.

“One of the most interesting things that I like is that it is a very competitive league and this forces you to perform at your best every single week, because otherwise you won’t be able to beat the other teams.”

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