Rob Page says there will not be any emotion attached to their clash with Denmark and admits his Wales side will face “a very good outfit” in Amsterdam on Saturday.
Denmark endured a difficult group phase after Christian Eriksen suffered a cardiac arrest just before half-time in their opener against Finland at the Parken Stadium in Copenhagen. The former Tottenham midfielder was taken to hospital but has now been discharged after a successful operation to fit a defibrillator implant.
Kasper Hjulmand’s team qualified for the knockout stages in dramatic fashion by beating Russia 4-1 to claim second spot in Group B and carry momentum into their showdown with Wales, who performed impressively against Switzerland and Turkey but fell to a 1-0 defeat against in-form Italy in Rome.
Caretaker boss Page sent his best wishes to Eriksen for a speedy recovery but is adamant that Wales are focused on the job in hand as they look to finish in the latter stages of the Euros for the second consecutive time.
He told Sky Sports News: “We haven’t got time to praise ourselves too much, there’s a job in hand again on Saturday, a tough game and we’re looking forward to the challenge.
“Both aspects came together against Turkey, I thought we defended well and showed we’ve got a goal in us, we were a constant threat.
“We could have kept the ball a little bit better against Italy, and that’s being really picky because they’re a really good team but at times we’ve just got to trust in ourselves. Did we get the right people on the ball at times? Probably not so that’s an area we can work on.
“Any opposing manager looks at our teamsheet and respects what we’re all about and the threat that we’ve got in the team.
“We’ve done our homework on them already, we spent all day in the analysis room yesterday going over it and what we are up against is a very, very good outfit.
“First and foremost we’re glad that Christian Eriksen is recovering really, really well. Ben Davies is a close friend of his and he was cut up the night it was all unfolding. Football comes and goes for coaches, managers, players but your family is there for life and he’s back with them and that’s the most important thing.
“With regards to business on Saturday, we’re there to beat them, there’s no emotion from us with regards to that we are there to do a job and we will absolutely be ready for it.”
‘Music is a big part of team bonding for Wales’
A club-like team spirit evolved among Chris Coleman’s players when Wales embarked on an unprecedented run to the semi-finals at Euro 2016.
Page thinks a similar atmosphere has been created by his squad this time around and says music plays a big part of team bonding behind the scenes to cultivate that togetherness, which could help them advance to the quarter-finals.
He said: “We’ve got a great senior group, I’ve said that all along since I’ve stepped up. We need them to lead and they have done throughout.
“Music is a big part of what’s going on, I’ve just had to turn the music down a bit to do my first interview! They’re a great group to have together, if they’ve not got the kitman up singing, then they’re making someone sing because it’s their birthday.
“If you’re late then you get to sing, it’s always a song of their choice we’re not that cruel! Music is a big part of that changing room but it is a big part of that team spirit and camaraderie.”
Captain Gareth Bale has 33 goals in 95 caps for his country to date but is yet to score at the Euros this summer.
The 31-year-old scored in each of Wales’ group games at the tournament five years ago, but his manager is unfazed by talk surrounding his lack of goals at Euro 2020 and instead highlighted the Real Madrid forward’s contributions elsewhere to the team.
When asked if it is crucial that Bale is scoring regularly for Wales, Page replied: “No, of course not. He set two up the other day so without his assists we aren’t stood here talking about the knockout stages.
“There’s more to Gareth’s game than scoring goals, he’s brought a lot to the changing room.”
With Wales not on the Netherlands’ safe countries list, supporters have been banned from travelling to Amsterdam under current coronavirus protocols and First Minister Mark Drakeford has warned fans not to make the journey for Saturday’s game.
Wales supporters were severely outnumbered in Baku for their second Group A tie against Turkey and having triumphed in that game, Page says his team will try and use a stadium of Denmark fans to their advantage.
He added: “It’s all a little bit political isn’t it but at the end of the day it is what it is we can’t influence it, we’ve got to control what we can and all we have to worry about is the game.
“Yeah they will have supporters but Turkey had 30,000 fans and we beat them so we’ll use it to our benefit and we can’t wait.”
Christensen: Denmark united after what happened to Eriksen
Reflecting on Denmark’s progression to the knockout stages, Chelsea centre-back Andreas Christensen, who scored with a stunning strike from 25 yards out against Russia, says the whole country has united in their support for Christian Eriksen and the national team after the midfielder was hospitalised following his collapse on the pitch in their game against Finland.
He said: “We have been through a terrible thing. We’ve done it together. We are at home at the Euros and it means a lot to us. To get that start, it was very tough, not just for us as a team but for the whole country and we are missing our best player.
“But at the same time because of this, we have come even closer than we were and we have played with a lot of emotions. I think that the energy level, we have hit another level. We are looking forward to every game, and we are trying to show our emotions and how much it means to us.”
Looking ahead to their game with Wales, defender Daniel Wass has warned his Denmark team-mates over the threat posed by Bale and insists Hjulmand’s team will need to ensure he has a quiet evening on Saturday.
Wass said: “He is a fantastic football player. He showed that in Spain and as well in England. So he is going to be tough to stop. Wales have a good team and I think that the X-Factor is Bale. So we’re going to have our eye on him.
“Of course it is going to be different not to have our fans with us from Parken. But again, we knew that was going to happen if we got through from the group. But, we’re going to go to Amsterdam with the same intensity as we have played the last two games.”
Striker Kasper Dolberg was in more confident mood ahead of their last-16 tie, saying: “No, I don’t really fear anything to be honest when it comes to Wales. I’m very confident in the whole team and very confident in that we are going to do well and that is what it is all about.”