COPENHAGEN • Denmark hope having thousands of passionate fans back in the stands at Parken Stadium today will help them beat a Finland side making a first appearance at a major tournament.
The government has approved up to 25,000 fans for the Group B clash, but the Danish Football Association has already set the capacity, with around 16,000 expected to attend.
Coach Kasper Hjulmand expects the fans - known in Danish as "roligans" in a play on the word hooligan but meaning calm and well-behaved - to help his side maximise the advantage of playing their three group games at home.
"That boost and the margins that all these matches will be about, I believe the Danish fans in Parken can tip the balance in our favour. They are the ones who help us when we really need it, the ones who cheer when we put in a tackle and score a goal," he said.
Defender Mathias Jorgensen, who grew up a stone's throw from Parken, said: "There's something special there that can really give the home team a boost, and I'm sure we'll experience that during our home games."
Despite the lack of a big-name striker, the free-scoring Danes have netted 17 goals so far this year and conceded only once, in a recent friendly against Germany.
With top-ranked Belgium tipped to claim one of the top two spots, Finland's chances of advancing to the knockout stage rely heavily on goal-poacher Teemu Pukki, who scored 10 goals as the Finns finished second in their Euro 2020 qualifying group.
The 31-year-old Norwich City striker appeared to have fully recovered from an ankle injury after he came off the bench in their final friendly, a 1-0 defeat by Estonia last weekend.
Despite many pundits dismissing the Finns as only there to make up the numbers, coach Markku Kanerva says his side are relishing being on the big stage and want to prove that they belong against their Scandinavian rivals.
"Denmark are a really tough team and they get to play on home soil, but we have proved we can challenge even bigger countries than Denmark," he said. "Enthusiasm is increasing and we can't wait to be at Parken Stadium to make history right away."
DENMARK V FINLAND
Singtel TV Ch141 & StarHub LiveNow app, midnight