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Denmark's goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel in action during a training session in Helsingor, Denmark before their Euro 2020 championship Group B match against Russia today. Image Credit: AP

Copenhagen: Russia are preparing for a tough match today against a Danish team determined to reach the knockout stages of the European championship, Russian manager Stanislav Cherchesov said before their final Group B game in Copenhagen.

Russia, who have not reached the latter stages of the European championship since 2008, need either a win against Denmark to get into the last 16 or a draw if Finland fail to beat Belgium in the other Group B match today.

“We think that this will be a difficult match,” Cherchesov told a news conference, highlighting Denmark’s explosive play and Yussuf Poulsen’s early goal in their 2-1 loss to Belgium, the world’s top-ranked side.

Danish manager Kasper Hjulmand has pledged that Denmark, who will benefit from home advantage, will beat Russia in honour of Christian Eriksen, who collapsed after suffering a heart attack during their opening game against Finland.

To grab the second qualifying spot, Denmark must beat Russia by two or more goals and rely on Belgium, who have reached the last 16, to beat Finland.

Difficult opponents

AS Monaco midfielder Alexander Golovin, one of the few Russians who plays in a top European league, said Russia would be facing difficult opponents.

“They are a very powerful team and play at a high tempo,” Golovin said. “Even the Belgians had trouble with them the first half... They cannot be underestimated.” Cherchesov would not disclose whether midfielder Mario Fernandes, who was cleared of a spinal injury after a heavy fall in Russia’s 1-0 win over Finland, would be fit to play.

He also declined to say who would start in goal after turning to 22-year-old Matvei Safonov against Finland after a sub-par performance by Anton Shunin against Belgium.

Cherchesov is not happy that Denmark is not allowing Russian fans into the country due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

“We regret that our fans won’t be able to be at the stadium,” he said. “In one sense it’s unfair. But the situation in the world is complex. The situation here in Denmark doesn’t permit them to come and there is nothing we can do about that.”

After all that’s gone wrong for Denmark, a win could still set a lot of things right. Despite two losses - and the emotional trauma of Christian Eriksen’s collapse - Denmark could still finish second in Group B with a victory.

“I think we go into the game with the mentality that we have to get there,” Denmark captain Simon Kjaer said. “After everything that we’ve been through I think we deserve it.”

Denmark is also hoping the atmosphere at Parken Stadium will give it the advantage. The crowd of 25,000 was raucous and loud against Belgium and helped the Danes take an early lead before the game stopped after 10 minutes so the whole stadium could pay tribute to Eriksen with a minute’s applause.