Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand will prepare his side for the threat of Finland frontman Teemu Pukki as if they were coming up against Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo in their Euro 2020 opener in Copenhagen.
Norwich forward Pukki, now recovered from ankle ligament damage suffered at the end of the Sky Bet Championship campaign, scored 10 of Finland’s 16 goals as they qualified for a first appearance at a major tournament in second place behind Group J winners Italy.
The fitness and form of Pukki, who returned to action as a substitute for the closing stages of last week’s friendly defeat to Estonia, will be key to the hopes of the Eagle Owls making an impact this summer.
Hjulmand, though, is confident Denmark have done their homework on every key man they are likely to face at Euro 2020.
“We know Pukki. With the analysis we all work with, no-one can be surprised and we are prepared.
“We are not going to ignore all his qualities, just like you would not ignore Messi or Ronaldo’s qualities.
“We know what is coming. He is good at what he is doing, we have talked about it and are prepared for it.
“All the teams in the Euros know each other so well – we have been analysing each other for months and we are well prepared.”
“We have been waiting for this day,” the Norwich forward said.
“There is a football fever in Finland at the moment, and it is good to see, with a lot of support messages and supporter songs.
“We do not need any extra motivation. Finnish football has been waiting for this moment for a long time.
“I feel in normal shape and am ready to play as much as the coach will allow me to.”
Denmark, who memorably won the tournament in 1992 as late replacements for Yugoslavia, will have home advantage in all of their Group B games, with Belgium and Russia also set to head to Copenhagen.
“We do dare to dream big, but also know there are bigger countries out there to win it,” said Hjulmand, who is hopeful of having midfielder Robert Skov fit for Saturday’s fixture, which will see English referee Anthony Taylor take charge.
“Our first aim is to get out of the group, then in a one-off game, anything can happen.”