Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp paid tribute to Simon Kjaer ahead of Wednesday's clash with Milan, saluting the defender for his composure and humanity in response to Christian Eriksen collapsing at Euro 2020.

Eriksen collapsed during Denmark's European Championship opener against Finland in June, with Kjaer the first on the scene to place his team-mate in the recovery position before leading the rest of the team in the formation of a protective shield around the Inter man as he received treatment.

The 29-year-old midfielder was subsequently taken to hospital and it was later confirmed he had suffered a cardiac arrest on the pitch, but medics were able to resuscitate him.

Eriksen was fitted with a pacemaker before returning home, though it remains unclear if he will ever play again.

Kjaer received widespread praise for his quick-thinking at such a crucial juncture, with he and the eight medics involved hailed the "true heroes of Euro 2020" and presented with the 2021 UEFA President's Award by UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin last month.

Kjaer is expected to be in the Milan team that will play the club's first Champions League match in seven-and-a-half years at Anfield, and Klopp hopes Liverpool fans recognise the defender's exploits.

"I am usually more keen to focus on my own players rather than an opponent, but tonight I must make an exception," Klopp wrote in his programme notes.

"This evening it is possible that Simon Kjaer will line up against us and this is a person who I think has the respect of the entire football and sporting world.

"You recognise true leadership in a crisis. I think the world acknowledges this now more than ever with everything that goes on around us.

"Like millions of others, I was rocked by the scenes that unfolded at the European Championship in the summer when Christian Eriksen fell ill during Denmark's opening group game.

"There were many heroes that night, not least of all the remarkable medical professionals for the Danish national team, in the stadium and subsequently at the hospital. But Simon shone that traumatic day for his own conduct.

"The image of the Danish players shielding their team-mate as he was cared for will, in my opinion, forever be one of the most iconic in sporting history. It showed the best of humanity. Compassion, care and love for their friend.

"Honestly, I have no idea how he managed to not only keep his own composure in that situation, but to have the clarity of mind to make the decisions he did in that moment. His conduct humbles us all.

"I'm told that Simon's dad is an LFC fan – and if that is the case, he must be bursting with pride that his boy is now recognised worldwide as the epitome of our anthem, 'You'll Never Walk Alone'.

"I know our supporters are knowledgeable and generous of spirit and therefore I am sure Simon will feel the gratitude of the home crowd tonight, but for the 90-plus minutes of the game he is again the opponent."

Wednesday's contest will be Liverpool's first Champions League match in front of a home crowd since March 11, 2020, when the Reds lost 3-2 to Atletico Madrid after extra-time and were dumped out of the competition at the last-16 stage.

Klopp feels Liverpool were always lacking something in the absence of supporters through the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, but in his opinion that was always exemplified during Champions League games.

"It will be so cool just before kick-off to hear that Champions League anthem and see the players lined up in front of a full Anfield," he continued. "We missed supporters for every second of every game during the pandemic, but I must admit it was most acute on the European nights.

"Let's have all the noise, all the colour, all the positive energy and all the passion and intensity that is our trademark. Let's give this fixture the stage it deserves. I honestly cannot wait."

Wednesday's match will be the first meeting between the two historic clubs that is not a European final, with their only prior clashes being in the Champions League deciders in 2005 and 2007, winning once each.

Simon Kjaer insisted he is "not a hero" for his quick-thinking actions to save Christian Eriksen, who collapsed after suffering a cardiac arrest in Denmark's Euro 2020 opener.

In concerning scenes in Copenhagen against Finland in June, Eriksen received CPR on the pitch with his team-mates forming a protective screen around him.

The Denmark midfielder has subsequently been fitted with a pacemaker and encouragingly returned to Inter's training ground in August – Eriksen's health being "the only thing that matters" to Kjaer.

Kjaer was one of the first to the scene and prevented Eriksen from swallowing his own tongue as he placed his team-mate into the recovery position.

The centre-back was hailed as a saviour but he told Corriere della Sera: "I'm not a hero, I just did what I had to do, without thinking, like anyone else would.

"Then what happened, happened. I was ready to remain lucid, like all my team-mates. It was a team effort, obviously we would have done the same if he had been an opponent.

"Instinct guided me, and I did what I had to, automatically. It was the first time this happened to me, I hope it’s the last, too.

"That’s all. The only thing that matters is that Christian is fine now. That's the only important thing. I did it without thinking."

It remains unclear if Eriksen will be able to play in Italy again due to the national restrictions on people playing with ICDs – a device connected to the heart to regulate abnormal rhythms.

However, Eriksen could feature in other European countries, as seen by the example of Daley Blind, who still features for Ajax despite an ICD fitting in 2019.

Kjaer's focus remains firmly on Serie A with Milan and, after Stefano Pioli credited the Denmark international as a leader, the Rossoneri fans want the defender to take the armband.

"We already have a captain and his name is [Alessandro] Romagnoli," the 32-year-old responded to questions over the captaincy.

"There is great harmony and sportiness between us. I don't care about the armband. I do my best always and in any case.

"There is harmony, unity [at Milan]. But above all there is a desire to work. Because without work, there is no improvement.

"A team like Milan has the duty to aim for the maximum. This is the only way to grow. I've never won a championship and I'd like to do it with Milan. [It] would be a dream."

Christian Eriksen has returned to Inter's training ground for the first time since his cardiac arrest at Euro 2020 in Denmark's opener against Finland.

In worrying scenes in June, Eriksen was given CPR after collapsing on the pitch, while his team-mates formed a protective screen around him, before subsequently receiving successful heart surgery.

Eriksen, 29, was then fitted with a pacemaker before going home to recover in Denmark, where he has undergone a host of further medical tests to discover why the cardiac arrest happened.

The former Tottenham midfielder visited Inter's training ground on Wednesday and the 2020-21 Scudetto winners said he was in "excellent physical condition".

A statement released on the club's official website said: "Eriksen, who greeted managers, coaches, team-mates and all the staff present, is fine and in excellent mental and physical condition.

"Eriksen will follow the recovery programme proposed by the Danish doctors in Copenhagen, who will coordinate all the clinical follow-up and will always keep the Inter Milan medical staff informed."

If Eriksen did want to return for Inter, however, he would have to have his ICD – a device connected to his heart to regulate abnormal rhythms – removed due to Italian restrictions preventing people playing contact sport with such devices in operation.

Other European countries, though, do not follow the same protocols as seen in the example of Daley Blind, who continued to regularly feature for Ajax after he had an ICD fitted in 2019.

Eriksen joined Inter, who open their new campaign against Genoa on August 21, in January 2020 and made 26 appearances in their title-winning season.

Inter director Beppe Marotta is bullish about retaining the bulk of the Italian champions' squad for the 2021-22 season, saying "90 per cent will be confirmed".

Title-winning head coach Antonio Conte was replaced by Simone Inzaghi already this off-season, with reports his departure was due to the club's need to cut operating costs.

That situation has also led to questions about Inter's transfer business this off-season and ability to retain their squad, with Achraf Hakimi already being sold to Paris Saint-Germain for €60m while Ashley Young has left for Aston Villa.

“We start from a squad that won the Scudetto and will 90 per cent be confirmed for this season, so that is a very important foundation to build on," Marotta told DAZN.

“We’ll now work to complete the squad in relation to Hakimi’s departure by being creative, as it’s difficult for any club right now to get involved in economically expensive deals.”

Inter have been linked with PSV Eindhoven talent Denzel Dumfries along with Arsenal's Hector Bellerin.

"There are many names, it’s too early to try predicting what will happen now," he said on the speculation.

The Nerazzurri have added Matteo Darmian, Zinho Vanheusden and Hakan Calhanoglu this off-season, with the latter joining as a free agent from rivals Milan.

"It was not an insult towards Milan, he was just a player who was a free agent," Marotta said. "Maybe next time it’ll be Milan who take a player when his contract with Inter expires."

Marotta was pressed on Christian Eriksen after his cardiac arrest at Euro 2020, creating doubts about his club career.

The Inter director said the situation would be analysed as the Danish midfielder recovers.

Denmark's squad are constantly thinking of Christian Eriksen as their Euro 2020 adventure continues, so says Kasper Hjulmand.

The Danes beat the Czech Republic 2-1 on Saturday to progress to their fourth European Championship semi-final – and their first since they won the tournament in 1992.

Hjulmand's side, whose tally of 11 goals in the competition trails only Spain, will face Ukraine or England at Wembley on Wednesday after Thomas Delaney and Kasper Dolberg saw them through in Baku.

Denmark – the first team to qualify from the group stage despite losing their first two games – have become the story of the tournament following Eriksen's cardiac arrest on the pitch in Copenhagen in their opener against Finland.

 

Eriksen has subsequently recovered and is in regular contact with his team-mates, who have gone from strength to strength, garnering a wave of support not just at home, but across the continent.

"I think the whole world of football understood that second, and the days after, the fundamental things in life and in football, the fundamental values of football came through right at that moment," Hjulmand told a news conference.

"There are so many other agendas in football, but we all remembered why we started to play football, what values football is based on and we had a reminder of this.

"I am still thinking of Christian every single day. He should have been here.

"We are happy that he survived, we carry him all the way to this match and all the way to Wembley. I think about him all of the time.

"We all understood maybe that the values of football came through – and maybe we are a symbol of it. I could not be more happy than that.

"We are just happy and proud we can maybe just remind ourselves why we love football and what football can do in the world."

 

Denmark's first-half display ultimately did the damage against the Czech Republic, who dragged one back through Patrik Schick early in the second half.

Schick joined Cristiano Ronaldo at the top of the Euro 2020 scoring charts, but will not get the chance to add to his tally as Denmark held firm.

Delaney got things started for before Dolberg joined a host of Denmark legends on three goals at European Championships, and the Borussia Dortmund midfielder added of Eriksen: "It is still something we are struggling with, but making him proud makes me happy."

Denmark know a thing or two about winning against all odds. While their 4-0 victory over Wales on Saturday may not fall into that exact category, it's fair to say their Euro 2020 campaign is very much built on such a platform.

After all, the Danes' greatest moment on the international stage, winning Euro 92, only occurred because of Yugoslavia's disqualification that came about to the breakup of the country.

This year they've had to cope with the stress of Christian Eriksen's health emergency in their group opener against Finland, the Inter midfielder suffering a cardiac arrest.

While Eriksen is on the mend, there's no doubt Denmark's inner resolve and desperation to honour the efforts of their team-mate have played a role in their performances – even if their second group game after the incident saw them suffer a slender defeat to Belgium.

The 4-1 win over Russia that followed saw Denmark become the first team in Euros history to lose their first two games but still qualify for the knockout phase. Qualification against all odds?

While Wales wanted to embrace a similar kind of 'nothing is impossible' attitude, just as they did when reaching the semi-finals of Euro 2016, they were always going to be up against it versus Denmark – who essentially had a home crowd behind them in Amsterdam.

"We're playing at Christian's old home and we're so excited to give it our all against Wales," coach Kasper Hjulmand said in the build-up. "There is a huge connection between Amsterdam – and especially Ajax – and Danish football."

Wales defender Connor Roberts had suggested "99 per cent of the world" would be cheering on Denmark, a situation that Danny Ward said helped in creating a "siege mentality" in the Welsh ranks.

And there was certainly evidence of that fired-up attitude throughout, such as Wales' promising start that had them 7-1 up on the shot count (even if several were blocked) after the 18th minute, the fact Chris Mepham and Joe Rodon looked to be picking scraps wherever possible, and then there was the late red card for Harry Wilson.

Yet Wales seemed unable to tap into that adrenaline for long and Denmark began to look every inch a home side, with the fans – whether they were Danish or Dutch – seemingly responding to Hjulmand's request for the Johan Cruijff ArenA to be more red-and-white than orange.

It was only fitting, then, that Kasper Dolberg was the man to take the match by the scruff of the neck.

 

The former Ajax prodigy was considered one of the world's biggest young talents after coming through the academy in Amsterdam. While his career probably hasn't hit the heights some would have expected during his breakout in the Netherlands, there's no doubt he will have made plenty sit up and take note on Saturday.

He opened the scoring in the 27th minute, receiving a pass inside from the left courtesy of Mikkel Damsgaard, taking a touch to his right to open up a little space before rifling a gorgeous effort into the bottom-right corner from 20 yards.

The Nice forward almost certainly wouldn't have started were it not for an injury to Yussuf Poulsen, but here he was, back where he made his name, doing it all over again.

His subsequent celebration, as he stood where he shot with his arms stretched outwards at his sides, reminiscent of Russell Crowe in Gladiator. "Are you not entertained?"

Well, as it happened, he would get another just after the break.

Neco Williams' clearance from Martin Braithwaite's low cross summed up much of Wales' play – panicked and utterly lacking in conviction.

Dolberg was on hand to slam an unstoppable effort into that bottom-right corner again, and from there it never looked like being anything other than a comfortable Denmark win.

In truth, Wales' setup in the group stage provided little inspiration that they would've been able to chase any kind of deficit. They only forced six high turnovers, the joint-fewest of any team, while their expected goals against of 4.8 was only lower than four other teams, all of whom finished bottom of their groups.

To maintain that level and succeed against a Denmark side who were among the most-effective sides in terms of pressing (37 high turnovers, second only to the Netherlands) and also capable of mixing up their play (more 'direct attacks' than anyone else but also only bettered by Spain and Italy in terms of 'build-ups) was going to be a tall order.

While Wales made some desperate forays forward towards the end, late goals from Joakim Maehle and Braithwaite were just rewards for Denmark's excellent game management. 

But as good as Atalanta star Maehle was (again), the day belonged to Dolberg.

Back in Amsterdam, where both he and Eriksen set out on their journeys, Dolberg's brace sent Denmark on their way to a first quarter-final at a major tournament since 2004.

 

Kasper Hjulmand said Denmark after thinking about Christian Eriksen "all the way" as the head coach revelled in the nation's magical night at Euro 2020.

Denmark remarkably booked their place in the last 16 of Euro 2020 with a stirring 4-1 win over Russia in Copenhagen on Monday, setting up a showdown against Wales.

After losing 1-0 to Finland – a game overshadowed by the cardiac arrest suffered by star midfielder Eriksen – and 2-1 to star-studded Belgium, Denmark's hopes of making the knockout stages were slim before the clash at the Parken Stadium. 

But Denmark produced a devastating performance to open their account at Euro 2020 and seal second spot in Group B thanks to goals from Mikkel Damsgaard, Yussuf Poulsen, Andreas Christensen and Joakim Maehle.

Denmark became the first team in European Championship history to reach the knockout stages of the competition having lost their first two group-stage games, while it also marked the first time Denmark had scored four goals in a major tournament game since a 4-1 victory over Nigeria at the 1998 World Cup.

"What a night. We hoped that it would be a magic night at Parken," Hjulmand told reporters. "I want to start by saying thank you to all the people who have been supporting us and have shown so much love.

"I don't think it would have been possible without all the support. I could feel that it really affected the players, so thank you so much for all the support. It means the world to us.

"The motivation, the team spirit and the friendship among the players were amazing. We played three games at a very high level, and if anyone deserves this, it's our players. I can't imagine how they managed to come back from what they went through, so a big credit to the boys. Thanks a lot for the support we've got from the whole of Denmark.

"I think it helps the team and hopefully it gives the country some good moments. It's something we all love, so thank you and a huge congratulations to the boys. It's really awesome."

Hjulmand added: "I have to say that the team spirit we have, and how everyone contributes, is amazing. And then mixing it up with amazing performances is just fantastic.

"AC [Andreas Christensen] is one of the best defenders out there. He has everything that a player needs. Joakim [Maehle], I don't know if he is still running out there. He just runs. He's very, very strong. He runs a lot. I don't know what he's taking, but he runs a lot. He manages the left side, but that's of course with more players. That's part of the team spirit, and people who didn't get to play today, I respect them a lot. I respect the people who did contribute on the pitch, the technical staff.

"It's hard to describe what this team has been through in the past four weeks. We're thinking about Christian [Eriksen] all the way, and Wales are a very tough opponent. They came very far last time. They have really great players, so I think it's going to a very equal game. They're very flexible, they change their strategies and their positions, so it's going to be hard to know what to expect from that time.

"It's just like with ourselves. We started a little weakly, but we moved AC and changed a few positions, and that's what Wales do a lot. It's going to be a very interesting and equal game."

Russia boss Stanislav Cherchesov said: "I thanked the guys for what they've done. They were up for this game but it just didn't go our way. We could have taken our chances in the first half but didn't, then conceded a goal from a half-chance and couldn't get back in the game. We have to think about all of this and move forward."

Christian Eriksen has been discharged from hospital following successful heart surgery, with the Denmark midfielder thanking the football world for the "incredible" support he has received.

Eriksen was given CPR on the pitch during last Saturday's match between Denmark and Finland having suffered a cardiac arrest during the first half.

It was confirmed he would be fitted with an implant to help regulate his heart rhythm and the Danish Football Association (DBU) announced on Friday that the operation was a success.

"Christian Eriksen has been through a successful operation and was today discharged from Rigshospitalet," a short statement read.

"Today he also visited the national team in Helsingor - and from there he will go home and spend time with his family."

An outpouring of public support followed the worrying scenes in Copenhagen after Eriksen collapsed on the pitch and Denmark's 2-1 defeat to Belgium on Thursday was stopped for a minute's applause 10 minutes into the contest.

"Thank you for the massive number of greetings - it has been incredible to see and feel," Eriksen said.

"The operation went well and I am doing well under the circumstances. It was really great to see the guys again after the fantastic game they played last night.

"No need to say, that I will be cheering them on against Russia on Monday."

Having lost their first two games, Denmark need to beat Russia in their final Group B match to have any chance of progressing to the last 16.

Belgium planned to kick the ball out of play after 10 minutes against Denmark to pay their own mark of respect to Christian Eriksen. The world's top-ranked football nation were perhaps not anticipating, however, that they would be chasing the game – and indeed Danish shadows – at that early stage in the match.

In the end the referee, Bjorn Kuipers, seemingly had to remind the Belgium players to bring the contest to a temporary halt, sparking emotional scenes as supporters and players - Eriksen's current and former club-mates Romelu Lukaku, Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld among them – applauded in unison.

It was that type of occasion and that type of start for Denmark as they produced a fitting tribute to stricken team-mate Eriksen, who was likely to have been watching on from his hospital bed barely 400 yards away, where he continues to recover from a cardiac arrest.

Football was put into perspective the moment Eriksen went to ground in the Danes' opening Group B defeat to Finland – he was "gone", in the words of team doctor Morten Boesen – but thankfully updates in the five days since the incident have been largely positive.

Whether we will see the Inter playmaker on a field again remains to be seen; that he is able to smile and laugh once more with his colleagues is a huge victory in its own right. A bigger victory, indeed, than Denmark were on course for against Belgium until the Kevin De Bruyne show ensued.

 

Long before the Manchester City playmaker's half-time arrival, just 99 seconds into the game at a raucous Parken Stadium, Yussuf Poulsen finished expertly into the bottom-left corner for the second-quickest goal in European Championship history.

Poulsen profited from a Jason Denayer error, the Lyon defender looking rusty in the early stages after returning to the side in place of Dedryck Boyata at the back following a rare day off in the 3-0 win over Russia.

Roberto Martinez's Belgian charges lived up to their tag as the world's number one side in their previous match against Russia, and the professionalism of this performance – as bad as they were in the first half – will arguably heighten expectations that they can go all the way when at full strength.

Belgium mustered just one attempt in the first half – a flicked effort from Dries Mertens on his 100th cap.

The last time they managed only one effort in the opening 45 minutes was in a 2-0 loss to Spain in September 2016, Martinez's first at the helm, which preceded a run of just three defeats in their next 56 matches.

Denmark could not quite add their name to that rare list of nations to have conquered the Red Devils over the last five years, with the visitors' quality eventually shining through. Make that De Bruyne's quality.

Still recovering from a facial injury sustained in Manchester City's Champions League loss to Chelsea last month, the playmaker was introduced for the start of the second half and made an instant impact.

Against the run of play, Lukaku turned his marker and pulled the ball back for De Bruyne to tee up the unmarked Thorgan Hazard. The finish from six yards was simple, the build-up to it anything but.

That assist made De Bruyne the only European player to set up a goal in each of the last four major international tournaments and he added his own name to the scoresheet 16 minutes later.

Another flowing team move culminated in De Bruyne driving a low shot past Kasper Schmeichel. A broken nose and a broken eye socket for De Bruyne; broken dreams for Denmark as their tournament hopes are now perhaps as good as over.

This game was never solely about the result, though – one that ensures safe passage through to the knockout stages for Belgium with a game, against Finland, to spare.

The defining moment was not Denayer's error, De Bruyne's match-changing introduction or Martin Braithwaite skimming the crossbar at the end, but rather the moment when all within the stadium united to pay respect to the popular Eriksen.

"All of Denmark is with you, Christian," a banner in one of the stands read. And boy did Denmark's players show that as they gave Belgium's hugely talented squad a run for their money.

Denmark and Belgium paused play after 10 minutes of their Euro 2020 clash to applaud stricken Christian Eriksen.

The Inter midfielder was given CPR on the pitch during the first half of Denmark's Group B opener with Finland last Saturday after suffering a cardiac arrest.

Eriksen remains in hospital in Copenhagen and assured fans on Tuesday that he is "fine – under the circumstances" as he continues to be monitored.

Denmark were in action on Thursday for the first time since that shocking incident and opponents Belgium wanted to celebrate Eriksen's survival and improved health.

Romelu Lukaku revealed ahead of the match at Parken Stadium that the Red Devils intended to bring the game to a halt after 10 minutes – 10 being Eriksen's shirt number.

Lukaku plays at Inter alongside Eriksen and appeared emotional as the players turned their thoughts towards Eriksen.

 

Both sets of players stopped the game for a minute as they and supporters inside the ground clapped in unison in an emotional tribute.

Denmark held a 1-0 lead at that point in the match thanks to Yussuf Poulsen's goal after just 99 seconds – the second-quickest in European Championship history.

The Danish Football Union announced earlier on Thursday that Eriksen will be fitted with an implant to help regulate his heart rhythm in future.

Specialists recommended he be fitted with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD), a device that uses electrical pulses to regulate potentially dangerous heart rhythms.

Christian Eriksen is to be fitted with an implant to help to regulate his heart rhythm after suffering cardiac arrest during Denmark's Euro 2020 match with Finland.

The midfielder was given CPR on the pitch during the first half of the match in Copenhagen last week before being taken to hospital, where he is stable.

Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel said on Monday that Eriksen was "smiling and laughing", while the Inter player himself thanked fans for their messages of support as he underwent tests.

On Thursday, the Danish Football Association confirmed specialists had recommended he be fitted with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD), a device that uses electrical pulses to regulate potentially dangerous heart rhythms.

A tweet from the FA's official account said: "National team doctor Morten Boesen has been in contact with the cardiac specialist at Rigshospitalet and Christian Eriksen and this is the latest status.

"After Christian has been through different heart examinations it has been decided that he should have an ICD (heart starter). This device is necessary after a cardiac attack due to rhythm disturbances.

"Christian has accepted the solution and the plan has moreover been confirmed by specialists nationally and internationally who all recommend the same treatment.

"We encourage everybody to give Christian and his family peace and privacy."

Professor Sanjar Sharma, an expert in sports cardiology, explained to Stats Perform the nature of the implant and the discussions Eriksen is likely to have over whether he will be able to continue his career.

"The question is, the aim is, this must never happen again," he said. "To do this, they will probably be considering putting in something called an implantable defibrillator, which is a small device that lives under the collar bone with a lead in the vicinity of the heart. That lead monitors the cardiac rhythm day and night and should the heart go into a very dangerous rhythm called ventricular tachycardia, this lead detects it at the shock box and delivers a shock to restore a normal rhythm. That would be their main goal.

"Of course, their main goal would be to ensure he has another fifty or sixty years, which is what he should have at his age. Clearly, there will be discussions about where he goes from now as far as his career goes. And that will be determined from what they find.

"If they find something that is incurable such as a scar, if you have a lot of scarring, you can't get rid of that, that's there permanently. Or let's say that they don't find anything and his cardiac arrest remains an enigma, something clearly happened, we just haven't been able to identify [it], it may be [it] happened in the spur of the moment, we haven't found what caused it. In that particular situation, it's very unreliable so you would have to tell him, this happened already once and it could happen again. The outcome may not be the same.

"You'll probably find the medical fraternity would now be advising him, I would say probably not to compete. But in the United Kingdom certainly, we really do respect the autonomy of the athlete. The athlete has a massive say in their career. It's not just that the doctor says 'you will not train again or compete again', the athlete gets involved.

"There will be a meeting certainly with the athlete, next of kin, and a club representative, talking about the possible scenarios, and then it may depend also on what Christian feels about his ongoing career, how his wife feels, how he feels about clearly bringing up the two children with this unpredictable risk. Lots of factors will come into this."

Denmark will use some tips from their stricken team-mate Christian Eriksen as they look to thwart Romelu Lukaku in Thursday's Euro 2020 Group B match against Belgium.

Kasper Hjulmand's side are back in action for the first time since the ordeal of witnessing Eriksen's sickening cardiac arrest on the turf at Parken Stadium just before half-time in last Saturday's 1-0 defeat to Finland.

The Inter playmaker thankfully pulled through and is feeling "fine, under the circumstances" as he continues to recuperate in hospital.

But Hjulmand told reporters that Eriksen's insight into his San Siro team-mate Lukaku could prove invaluable.

Lukaku scored twice in Belgium's 3-0 win over Russia, dedicating his opening goal to his close friend Eriksen.

That made him the second Belgium player to score in at least two European Championships after Jan Ceulemans in 1980 and 1984.

"Due to Eriksen's absence, we will have to do things differently, but Belgium will have to be top to beat us." Hjulmand said. "We have to make sure that Lukaku is as uninvolved as possible. 

"Once he's on the ball, he can't be stopped. Eriksen – his team-mate at Inter – also pointed out that danger to us." 

Belgium will be without Timothy Castagne after the wing-back suffered a fractured eye socket against Russia, although Kevin De Bruyne is back in training after a similar injury and Axel Witsel (Achilles) is expected to take a place on the bench.

Aside from Eriksen, all members of Hjulmand's squad trained on Wednesday, although the coach conceded he would check on whether each felt available to play.

"It will undoubtedly be an emotional evening for us, but also for Christian," he added. 

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Denmark – Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg

Hojbjerg's tame second-half penalty against Finland was a moment to forget but the Tottenham midfielder will have to be on his game to shut down Belgium's lavishly gifted creative department. He won possession more times than any other Premier League player in 2020-21 (296), while he was second only to Manchester City's Rodri in terms of passes made (2,785).

Belgium – Kevin De Bruyne

If De Bruyne can instantly relocate the form that won him a second consecutive PFA Footballers' Footballer of the Year award then it could spell trouble for Denmark and joy for the prolific Lukaku. In 25 Premier League games this season, De Bruyne delivered 12 assists – an average of one every 167 minutes.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Denmark and Belgium's only previous meeting at a major tournament was in the group stages of Euro 1984. Denmark won 3-2, having been 2-0 down.
- Indeed, it is best to expect goals when these two come together. The only 0-0 draw between the countries came in their first meeting, back in 1922. They have averaged 3.7 goals per game since.
- Belgium have won four of their past five matches at the European Championship, as many as they had won across their first 13 games in the competition.
- The Red Devils have lost just one of their past 24 matches in all competitions, winning 20.
- Dries Mertens could make his 100th appearance for Belgium. He would join team-mates Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld, Eden Hazard and Witsel on the century mark.

Finland coach Markku Kanerva appreciates what happened to Christian Eriksen will remain with his players long after Euro 2020, but he hopes they can focus as they prepare to take on Russia.

Denmark midfielder Eriksen was given CPR on the pitch after collapsing with no other players around him in the first half of Saturday's Group B game against Finland in Copenhagen.

It was later confirmed the 29-year-old had suffered a cardiac arrest, with Morten Boesen - the team doctor for Denmark - revealing he was "gone" before being resuscitated on the field.

After a lengthy delay, the two nations returned to the pitch to complete the game. Finland went on to win 1-0, Joel Pohjanpalo grabbing the goal with his team's only attempt during proceedings.

While Eriksen is undergoing further tests in hospital - he posted an update on his condition via the Danish Football Union on Twitter on Tuesday, including a picture of him smiling while giving a thumbs-up gesture, Kanerva knows what unfolded will linger in some of his players' minds.

"It is hard to estimate how what happened to Eriksen is affecting different people. Of course we all have it in our minds and we are very glad that he's doing better," he told the media.

"I hope that with regarding the difficult situation, we will be able to concentrate on our next match. Certainly, it will remain in our minds, even after the tournament.

"It's not an easy task all of a sudden to concentrate only on football, because there were bigger things than football in play. Hopefully, we can concentrate fully and do our best."

Russia lost their opening game 3-0 to Belgium but will hope to bounce back against Finland, a team they have beaten in all four previous meetings since the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

They have scored at least three goals in each of those matches, though coach Stanislav Cherchesov is taking nothing for granted.

"It was a somewhat surprise result (against Denmark), but Finland's attitude towards the game did not surprise me," Cherchesov, who revealed the injured Yuri Zhirkov could miss the rest of the tournament after coming off against Belgium, told the media.

"Their team is a strong one and they showed it. The game could have worked out differently, but we have known from the beginning that they are a strong opponent."

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Finland - Joel Pohjanpalo

Pohjanpalo will forever have a place in history after scoring Finland's maiden goal in the tournament. He will be hoping to help them become the first team to win their opening two European Championship matches since Croatia back in 1996. The 26-year-old spent the 2020-21 season on loan at Union Berlin from Bundesliga rivals Bayer Leverkusen, scoring six times in 19 appearances.

Russia - Aleksandr Golovin

Russia endured a tough start on home soil, managing just one on-target attempt as they were soundly beaten in St Petersburg. Aleksandr Golovin did his best in attack, supplying seven crosses and creating one chance. Back in action at the same venue, the playmaker can expect to see far more of the ball after the Russians had just 33.6 per cent of possession against the Belgians.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Finland have only scored one goal in their four previous games against Russia, back in November 1995. That goal, scored by Kim Suominen, was netted past goalkeeper Stanislav Cherchesov, now Russia's head coach.
- Finland's 6-0 defeat to Russia back in August 1995 remains the last time they were beaten by that margin in an international match – current boss Markku Kanerva made his 58th and penultimate appearance for the national side that day.
- Russia are without a win in their last six matches at European Championships (D2 L4), losing each of their last three in a row. They have never lost four consecutive matches in the competition. 
- Since 1980, Finland became just the fourth team win a match at the European Championships while having 21+ shots fewer than their opponents, after Turkey in 2000 (v Belgium), Denmark in 2012 (v Netherlands) and Greece in 2012 (v Russia).
- Pohjanpalo scored his 10th international goal, in what was his 43rd cap for his country – becoming one of only two players in Finland's Euro 2020 squad to have netted 10+ goals for the national side (also Teemu Pukki, 30).
- Yuri Zhirkhov (37 years, 296 days) became the oldest player ever to make an appearance for Russia at the European Championship, overtaking Sergei Ignashevich from 2016 (36y 342d). However, his appearance against Belgium lasted only 43 minutes owing to injury, while only Ignashevich (10) has made more European Championship appearances for Russia than Zhirkhov (9). 

Christian Eriksen has said he feels "fine – under the circumstances" after medics saved his life when he collapsed during Denmark's Euro 2020 clash with Finland.

Inter midfielder Eriksen was given CPR on the pitch during the first half of Saturday's game in Copenhagen after collapsing with no other players around him.

Denmark team-mate Kasper Schmeichel reported on Monday that Eriksen was "smiling and laughing" in hospital, while team doctor Morten Boesen confirmed the 29-year-old suffered a cardiac arrest.

Boesen said Eriksen "was gone" before being resuscitated on the field.

Now Eriksen has revealed the first picture of him in hospital, giving a thumbs-up gesture.

He wrote in a message posted to the Danish Football Union (DBU) Twitter page: "Hello everyone. Big thanks for your sweet and amazing greetings and messages from all around the world. It means a lot to me and my family.

"I'm fine – under the circumstances. I still have to go through some examinations at the hospital, but I feel okay. Now, I will cheer on the boys on the Denmark team in the next matches.

"Play for all of Denmark. Best, Christian."

The DBU on Monday described Eriksen as being in a "stable and good" condition.

In a statement issued by his agent, also on Monday, former Ajax and Tottenham midfielder Eriksen thanked those who assisted him and vowed to get to the bottom of what caused the cardiac arrest.

Denmark skipper Simon Kjaer has been widely praised for stopping Eriksen from swallowing his tongue and placing his stricken team-mate in the recovery position.

UEFA originally suspended the fixture, but it was agreed the match would resume from where it left off less than two hours later, with Finland winning 1-0.

Kylian Mbappe needed clear-the-air talks with Olivier Giroud, but their argument is now in the past, according to France captain Hugo Lloris.

Les Bleus' preparations for Euro 2020 have been overshadowed by an apparent spat between two of their forwards, which stems from the friendly win over Bulgaria last week.

Giroud indicated he was unhappy with some of the service he received in the 3-0 victory, comments that were perceived to be aimed specifically at Mbappe, who exchanged passes with the Chelsea forward just three times in 43 minutes.

The Paris Saint-Germain star admitted last weekend that he had been "a little affected" by Giroud's remarks, while coach Didier Deschamps held a discussion with both players.

Lloris said Mbappe felt the need to speak his mind, but insisted the problem was overblown.

"It made more noise outside than inside," he said on Monday ahead of France's Euro 2020 opener with Germany. "The two explained things the next day.

"There were some small differences, but these things happen. It didn't affect the group. Kylian needed to speak out. It's behind us now."

Giroud is expected to start on the bench in Munich, with Deschamps more likely to keep faith with the front three of Mbappe, Karim Benzema and Antoine Griezmann, who all started against Bulgaria.

Lloris thinks the thought of facing such an attack is likely to give the Germany defenders some sleepless nights, even if France's collective performance will be more important.

"They are players of a very high level, who have been regulars for many years," he said.

"Mbappe is younger than Benzema and Griezmann, but he has already done great things.

"I understand there is some fear among our opponents, but if we want to achieve a big result, we'll need to have great collective strength and be well balanced on the pitch."

Lloris also praised the actions of Denmark and Finland players and fans during Saturday's match in Copenhagen, in which Christian Eriksen collapsed on the pitch and required emergency treatment before being taken to hospital.

The midfielder, a former Tottenham team-mate of Lloris, was confirmed by Denmark's doctor as having suffered cardiac arrest. He was said to be awake and stable in hospital and issued a statement on Monday to thank those who looked after him.

"We learned about him after training," Lloris said. "There was a lot of concern and stress, but we were quickly assured of his condition.

"These are pictures you don't want to see on the pitch. I want to highlight the personality of the Danish and Finnish players and the supporters. They were able to handle the incident with dignity and solidarity.

"What happened affected the world of football. The most important thing is that Christian is in good condition."

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