Pekka Mantyla’s Denmark v Finland preview: Pukki fitness boost ahead of opener


Our Matchday Squad journalist will be covering Finland throughout Euro 2020

After waiting over 80 years for a Finland’s men’s national team match in a major tournament, the whole nation seems to be swarming with excitement this week.

Huuhkajat [The Eagle Owls], as their nickname goes, lowered the Finns’ expectations and hopes this week, though. More than the results – defeated by Sweden and Estonia – the general performances in these two friendlies were anything but promising.

Finland played a very successful qualification campaign with 4-4-2 formation. However, in the matches against stronger opponents, head coach Markku Kanerva has chosen 5-3-2 or 3-5-2. Kanerva has been consistent with this, overruling dubious comments not only from the fans but reportedly also from the players. Since Finland will be clear underdogs in all of their Group B matches, they are expected to continue with more passive 5-3-2.

There has been a big concern about Teemu Pukki’s ankle. The Norwich striker was unexpectedly able to play a half an hour in Finland’s last friendly against Estonia, so everything seems promising now. Also the other striker, Bayer Leverkusen’s Joel Pohjanpalo, seems to have recovered too. The only question marks are over captain Tim Sparv and wing-back Nikolai Alho, but if they were to stay on the bench, that wouldn’t hurt Finnish team dramatically.

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