Tottenham Hotspur star Pierre-Emile Højbjerg was a bright spot for Denmark in Euro 2020, showing fans he is more than solid in the tackle.
When Denmark lost Christian Eriksen in the first half of their first game at Euro 2020, many likely suspected it was the end of the run for the Danish side. However, plenty of players stepped up for the Danes, including Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Pierre Højbjerg, who showed he is more than just a defensive midfield for his homeland.
Højbjerg did more for Denmark
Assisting goals for his country is nothing new for Højbjerg, who now has more assists– five – in 12 games for his country in the last 18 months, than he did for Tottenham – four – in 38 league matches. It is not that Højbjerg suddenly learned how to pass in the final third, a big part of the change was how the Danish deployed their Viking destroyer.
Tottenham should notice the Denmark formation
Following the loss of Eriksen for the tournament, the Danish switched from a 4-3-3, which saw Højbjerg beside Thomas Delaney in the middle of a 4-4-2, Denmark had a second physical presence in the middle of the pitch, allowing Højbjerg to venture more forward.
As a result of Højbjerg spending more time in the attacking half, he was recovering the ball more in dangerous places which resulted in scoring opportunities. Højbjerg makes things happen when he is able to wrangle the ball in the attacking half. Højbjerg is not a creative force but he is a force and that ability to recover the ball is vital.
Højbjerg leveraged his nose for the ball and his team’s need for more forward thrust with Eriksen out to his advantage and had a spectacular tournament. Playing every minute of every match and providing three assists. No surprise there.
Højbjerg was not perfect, he had a penalty saved in the first match loss to Finland and is likely disappointed in the semi-final loss to England. However, even against the Three Lions, it was Højbjerg who took Denmark’s first shot and it was his seven tackles and numerous ball recoveries which kept Denmark hanging around the full 120 minutes.
While Højbjerg’s effort was not enough to get past Harry Kane and England, he did himself, his country, and our Spurs proud.
Time for rest, recovery, and Tottenham
With the Euro tournament over for Højbjerg, it is now time for some much-needed rest. Just as it was with the Spurs, Højbjerg played essentially every minute of every game for Denmark. After playing nearly 50 matches for Tottenham last season, even a Viking needs some time off.
After some well-deserved R&R, we should expect to see an even better Højbjerg next season. WIth Tottenham potentially finally moving from their 4-2-3-1 formation, we may get to see Højbjerg in a true midfield pairing or as the middle of a midfield three.
Either way, what we know is Højbjerg is more dynamic than what we saw at times for Tottenham last season and new Head Coach Nuno Espirito Santo has to find a way to get the most out of Højbjerg, just as Denmark did.
While we can all feel a bit sorry for the loss in the semi-final, we should all be excited we are going to get back a better, more complete, and confident player after the summer run he just went through. The question is, can Tottenham use Højbjerg as effectively as Denmark?