Kasper Schmeichel has ended an 11-year association with Leicester City after joining Nice for an undisclosed fee.

The Denmark goalkeeper spent more than a decade at Leicester after arriving from Leeds United, winning a Premier League title, an FA Cup and a Community Shield during his time at the King Power Stadium.

Schmeichel made 479 appearances in all for the Foxes, featuring in more Premier League games for Leicester than any other player (276), and, barring injury, will be a part of the Denmark squad for the World Cup in Qatar later this year.

Speaking to Leicester's official website on the announcement of Schmeichel's departure, Chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha said: "Throughout his time with us and particularly as a captain and vice-captain, Kasper has always been a player willing to stand up and take responsibility, leading the team with distinction.

"His influence and his leadership on and off the pitch speak volumes about him as a professional, as a football player and as a human being.

"I know Leicester City supporters share the respect we all have for a player of Kasper's standing after all his accomplishments as a footballer and captain and will join me in wishing him the very best for the next stage of his career in France with OGC Nice. 

"It's clear to everyone who has watched him perform that Kasper has given everything to Leicester City every time he has played and the experiences shared between him, the club and our supporters over the last 11 years mean he will always remain a part of this family."

Schmeichel sits behind only West Ham's Lukasz Fabianski (284) and Manchester United's David de Gea (283) for appearances in the Premier League since the start of the 2014-15 season.

Nice also announced the signing of young centre-back Mattia Viti from Empoli earlier on Wednesday, adding to other new arrivals in the transfer window Aaron Ramsey, Alexis Beka Beka, Rares Ilie and Badredine Bouanani.

Timo Werner has only managed 23 goals in his first two seasons with Chelsea after joining from Leipzig in mid-2020.

The new Blues owners are open to allowing Werner, who signed on a five-year contract, to depart on loan.

The 26-year-old scored 95 goals in 159 appearances with Leipzig from 2016 to 2020.

TOP STORY – LEIPZIG LEAD RACE FOR CHELSEA'S WERNER

Leipzig are leading the race to sign Chelsea striker Werner ahead of Juventus, claims Fabrizio Romano.

The Bundesliga club met with Chelsea on Sunday, proposing a swap deal for Werner, who is Leipzig's main target.

Juventus and Newcastle United have also shown an interest in the Germany international. 

ROUND-UP

Barcelona are considering a move for Leipzig defender Angelino should they miss out on Chelsea full-back Marcos Alonso, claims Diario Sport.

Everton could make a move for forgotten Chelsea forward Michy Batshuayi, according to talkSPORT. The Toffees lost Richarlison to Tottenham last month and will turn to Batshuayi, who scored 14 goals on loan at Besiktas last season.

– Portuguese forward Diogo Jota is set to be rewarded for his strong second season at Anfield, with Liverpool to offer him a lucrative pay rise as part of a new deal, despite having three years to run on his contract, claims The Telegraph.

Napoli and Chelsea are in talks on a loan deal for Spanish goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, according to Sky Sports.

– Football Insider reports that Leicester City have informed Newcastle that midfielder James Maddison will cost them £60million as they circle for his signature.

– Leicester City are set to farewell goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel,  who is on the cusp of joining French Ligue 1 club Nice, reports the Mail.

Brendan Rodgers insisted Leicester City would not be selling Wesley Fofana to Chelsea and derided Newcastle United's reported offer for James Maddison.

Leicester are the only Premier League club yet to make a new signing with less than a week to go before the start of the season.

With finances said to be tight at the King Power Stadium, a number of key players appear to be of interest to rival clubs.

Chelsea are reportedly considering a move for centre-back Fofana, having lost Antonio Rudiger to Real Madrid and Andreas Christensen to Barcelona while missing out on top targets Matthijs de Ligt to Bayern Munich and Jules Kounde also to Barca.

Reports suggest Leicester would only countenance the sale of one of Fofana or Maddison, and Rodgers ruled out the possibility of his top defender departing.

"Naturally, he's a top talent," Rodgers said following Sunday's 1-0 friendly win over Sevilla. "He's not for sale.

"He still has lots of improvements to make. He's very happy here, he really enjoys being here.

"Naturally, he will attract the interest of other clubs. Our job, in not signing anyone so far, is to at least keep the players we have. I know that's the intention of the club."

Rodgers was slightly less firm on Maddison's future, although he suggested the £40million fee Newcastle were said to be willing to pay fell well short of the midfielder's value.

Newcastle have also been linked to Maddison's team-mates Youri Tielemans and Harvey Barnes, while they last season targeted Rodgers himself before appointing Eddie Howe.

"He's still very much a player here," Rodgers said of Maddison. "Naturally, the players are sought after because they are talents.

"You see his performance, you see how happy he is, and he's not a player we want to sell.

"It's not for me to put valuations on the players, it's not my side, but [£40m] might just cover three-quarters of his left leg, that price. He's a top player."

Another player who could leave Leicester is captain Kasper Schmeichel, who has held talks with Nice.

Lucien Favre, coach of the Ligue 1 club, said over the weekend a potential move was "a real lead" but "not yet done".

Rodgers added: "There's been a little bit of interest over the summer.

"Kasper has earned the right to have a think about the next chapter of his career and where that's going to be. When there's something concrete, we'll sit and discuss it and take it from there."

The tense Frenkie de Jong transfer saga continues with uncertainty on his Barcelona future.

The 25-year-old Dutchman has two years to run on his Barcelona contract, having postponed part of his deal during the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

De Jong is unwilling to accept another pay cut to remain at Camp Nou, though, amid the club's hefty off-season transfer spending.

 

TOP STORY – DE JONG DECISION OVER ENGLISH SUITORS

Decisions will be made on Frenkie de Jong's future at Barcelona after their United States tour, with interest from Chelsea alongside Manchester United, reports Sport.

De Jong is reluctant to leave Camp Nou, particularly for a move to Old Trafford, despite ending last season out of favour.

However, the Dutchman is more open to Chelsea's advances, but the Blues are unwilling to pay as much as United, leaving the Blaugrana in a bind.

 

ROUND-UP

– Leicester City have placed a £70million asking price on Wesley Fofana, who is being courted by Chelsea, reports CBS Sports.

Newcastle United are considering a move for Chelsea's Germany international forward Timo Werner, claims Bild. Juventus are also interested in Werner according to Sky Sports.

– Fabrizio Romano reports that ex-Chelsea midfielder Oscar is pushing for a move from Shanghai SIPG to Flamengo, with talks ongoing.

– L'Equipe believes that Danish goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel has agreed to a deal with Ligue 1 club Nice, although Leicester City are yet to approve the move.

– Arsenal and Fulham are in talks over an £8m deal for goalkeeper Bernd Leno, claims Sky Sports.

Roma head coach Jose Mourinho is trying to woo Manchester United defender Eric Bailly to the Italian capital, reports The Daily Mail.

Christian Eriksen's best performances for Denmark could well be yet to come, according to coach Kasper Hjulmand. 

After scoring when Denmark faced the Netherlands last week – his first international outing since suffering a cardiac arrest on the pitch last June – Eriksen took the captain's armband for his return to the site of his collapse in Tuesday's friendly against Serbia at Parken.

The Brentford midfielder marked the occasion with a lovely curling finish from the edge of the box, adding to strikes from Joakim Maehle and Jesper Lindstrom to complete a 3-0 victory. 

Eriksen was greeted by a banner reading "Welcome back, Eriksen" as led his team-mates out in Copenhagen and was given a standing ovation when he was substituted in the second half. 

"It was Christian Eriksen's comeback at Parken – it was magical," Hjulmand said. 

"We can see the blueprint for a relaxation and lightness in Christian's game, which is fantastic. He is so clear and calm, and he plays a lot of deep balls with his right and left feet, he keeps the game going when he needs to. It is a pleasure to see the way he makes himself comfortable on the pitch. 

"I think we can get something even better out of Christian for the next few years." 

Jannik Vestergaard believes Eriksen, who only returned to competitive action last month, has a new outlook on life and his career that is enabling him to perform to a high level. 

"You have to be careful what you say, but he was almost better than ever," said Vestergaard. 

"He played with ease … it may have really dawned on him how happy he is to play football. The pressure on him as our best player for many years then takes second place. 

"I think Christian enjoys every moment. Football is not everything in life, but for us football players it takes up quite a lot. He looks like someone who loves to be back, loves to play football and loves to play for Denmark. 

"I think there were many people who looked forward to getting Christian Eriksen back at Parken, and we had that too. 

"It was also great for us. It was a way to really put an end to some experiences we have had." 

Christian Eriksen made a memorable return to Parken by scoring while captaining Denmark to a 3-0 friendly victory over Serbia on Tuesday. 

Brentford midfielder Eriksen was playing at the stadium in Copenhagen for the first time since suffering a cardiac arrest there during the Euro 2020 game against Finland last June. 

The 30-year-old, who had an implantable cardioverter defibrillator fitted, only returned to competitive action in February and was handed the captain's armband for the game by Kasper Schmeichel. 

Eriksen was welcomed to the pitch with a banner that read "Welcome back, Christian" and followed up his goalscoring comeback against the Netherlands last week with a fine curling effort from just outside the box in the 57th minute. It rounded off the win after goals from Joakim Maehle and Jesper Lindstrom. 

A rapturous standing ovation met the former Inter and Tottenham playmaker when he was withdrawn by head coach Kasper Hjulmand in the 80th minute, bringing an emotional comeback to a close. 

Eriksen began speaking to the media after the final whistle but was pulled away by Schmeichel so he could take part in the celebrations with his team-mates. 

"This evening ranks high. And that reception gave me chills. Yes, it's hard to describe," Eriksen said to Discovery, before Schmeichel interrupted the interview so they could enjoy the occasion together.

Christian Eriksen will captain Denmark when he returns to Parken in a friendly against Serbia on Tuesday. 

It will be the first time Eriksen has played in the stadium since he suffered a cardiac arrest during Denmark's Euro 2020 group game against Finland last June. 

The 30-year-old had to have an implantable cardioverter defibrillator fitted, which made him ineligible to play in Italy and resulted in him leaving Inter for Brentford.

He returned to competitive action in the Bees' 2-0 loss to Newcastle United in February, and scored within two minutes of being introduced as a half-time substitute on his international comeback against the Netherlands in Amsterdam last week. 

Eriksen will now have the honour of captaining his country when he steps back onto the pitch at Parken. 

"It will definitely be very special because I have not been to Parken since it happened," he said. "Now, I'm really looking forward to being back on the pitch and being a football player again. 

"That's what it's about for me. But, I also look forward to the fact that after the match, we can put it behind us. 

"It will be very emotional and very special, but I am looking forward to it because it is something positive we are talking about." 

Denmark boss Kasper Hjulmand revealed that Kasper Schmeichel, who has skippered the side in the absence of the injured Simon Kjaer, approached him to ask that Eriksen be given the armband. 

"It's great to have him back. We've missed him," Schmeichel added. "It's not only on the pitch - we all saw what he can bring in the second half against the Netherlands – but also off the pitch. Something was missing."

Leicester City eased into the last 16 of the Europa Conference League as a scarcely deserved 3-1 win at Randers secured a 7-2 aggregate victory. 

Despite a difficult season to this point, Leicester are considered to be among the favourites for a competition they had hoped not to be in when their Europa League campaign began. 

Moments of quality from Harvey Barnes and James Maddison ensured there would be no nerves for Brendan Rodgers' men in their knockout round play-off, although this was far from a convincing performance. 

On the balance of play, Randers – beaten 4-1 in England – could well have threatened a dramatic second-leg turnaround in Denmark, but they passed up a series of chances and allowed Leicester to emerge with a one-sided final score. 

Light snow and a poor pitch contributed to tricky conditions for flowing football – not that Barnes was slowed inside two minutes as he raced away and shaped a low finish around Patrik Carlgren into the bottom-right corner. 

Randers were far less clinical from a similar opportunity at the other end soon afterwards. Kasper Schmeichel saved from Stephen Odey and Jakob Ankersen in quick succession when both dallied in front of goal following a four-man breakaway. 

Chances continued to come and go for the home side, who had Bjorn Kopplin poke wide, Vito Hammershoy-Mistrati prod across the face of goal and Simon Piesinger blast over the crossbar before half-time. 

Odey drew an instinctive stop from Schmeichel following the restart and had a shot blocked on the line from the subsequent corner. 

The forward found time to miss the far post when well placed too, before further ruthless contributions from another of Leicester's key men saw Maddison pick out the top-left corner with a fine free-kick and then the top-right in open play four minutes later. 

Odey at least had the final say, pouncing on a Schmeichel error to deny the Denmark international a hard-earned clean sheet. 

Liverpool suffered a major blow to their title hopes when they stumbled to a 1-0 defeat at Leicester City.

Ademola Lookman scored, netting in consecutive Premier League appearances for the first time in his career, having grabbed a goal in the 6-3 Boxing Day defeat at Manchester City.

The former Everton player's contribution, after a rare penalty miss from Mohamed Salah, means City's lead in the title race stands at six points at the halfway stage in the season.

West Ham and Crystal Palace also won on Tuesday, while Southampton battled for a point against Tottenham.

After a big result in the context of the title race, Stats Perform takes a look at the pick of Tuesday's Opta data.

Leicester City 1-0 Liverpool: Salah miss hurts as ex-Everton man Lookman sinks Reds

After converting 15 consecutive Premier League penalties, Salah missed at Leicester, and it was that kind of frustrating game for Liverpool.

It was just Salah's second ever miss from the spot in the English top flight and his first since October 2017 against Huddersfield Town. From then on, he had been immaculate, so when Kasper Schmeichel pulled off a save at the King Power Stadium it was a major surprise. Having said that, since the start of 2020, Schmeichel has saved more penalties in the Premier League than any other goalkeeper, with the latest stop his third in this period.

The result was also a major turn up, Leicester winning consecutive league matches against Liverpool for the first time since April 1999, thanks to Lookman's second-half strike.

Liverpool failed to score for the first time in 29 Premier League games and for the first time in 28 away fixtures across all competitions, as Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers celebrated a big win against one of his former clubs.

The Reds had been unbeaten in 35 December games since a 4-3 loss to Bournemouth in 2016, but their year ends on a negative note.

Southampton 1-1 Tottenham: Kane scores again but Spurs denied a winner

Tottenham's Harry Kane has made a habit of getting the better of Southampton's defence during his stellar career, but this time he had to settle for a penalty equaliser at St Mary's Stadium. By firing past Fraser Forster to level up after James Ward-Prowse's opener, Kane ensured Antonio Conte became the first Tottenham manager to go unbeaten in the first seven league games of a Spurs career.

Kane has now been directly involved in 17 goals in 12 Premier League starts against Southampton (11 goals, six assists), and he was only denied a winner by a controversial VAR offside call.

A fine early strike from Ward-Prowse gave the Saints midfielder a goal for a third successive game. The last time he scored in three straight matches was back in March 2019, and the third goal in that run also came against Spurs.

Perhaps Southampton fans were not expecting their team to hold on. After all, the last time they won their final game of a calendar year was all the way back in 2010, when they beat Huddersfield Town 4-1 in a League One fixture.

The dismissal of Mohammed Salisu, who fouled Son Heung-min to give away the penalty that Kane tucked away, certainly hurt Southampton. Indeed, since Ralph Hasenhuttl’s first Premier League game in charge of Southampton in December 2018, only Arsenal (13) have been shown more red cards in the competition than Saints (11).

Crystal Palace 3-0 Norwich: No Zaha, no Gallagher, no problem for Eagles

Wilfried Zaha was suspended and Conor Gallagher was also absent, but Palace were three goals to the good by half-time against bottom side Norwich.

It was Odsonne Edouard who stepped up to shine, scoring the home side's opening goal from the penalty spot before claiming assists as Jean-Philippe Mateta and Jeffrey Schlupp boosted the lead.

His three goal involvements followed the former Celtic striker having just four (three goals, one assist) across his previous 15 games in the Premier League.

Palace finished the day in 10th place and have impressed many under the leadership of manager Patrick Vieira, losing just once and scoring 18 goals in their 10 Premier League home games since the Frenchman came in, taking 17 points from those fixtures.

This was just Palace's fourth win in their last 25 games without star man Zaha (D3, L18), but they have not lost in their last five when he has been absent.

Norwich have conceded a league-high six penalties this season and have only scored eight goals in 19 games – the joint-lowest tally in a top-flight season after as many matches, alongside Leicester in 1977-78.

Watford 1-4 West Ham: Worrying times for Ranieri

Despite impressive wins over Everton and Manchester United early in Claudio Ranieri's reign, the Italian's Watford team are in trouble now after a fifth consecutive defeat.

An early opener here from Emmanuel Dennis was a red herring. Watford were mauled as Tomas Soucek, Said Benrahma, Mark Noble and Nikola Vlasic scored for the Hammers.

The result means West Ham won 22 Premier League games in 2021, and only in 1959 (23) have they enjoyed more top-flight league wins in a calendar year.

West Ham have also clawed back 12 points from losing positions this season, more than any other side.

Captain Noble netted the Hammers' third from the penalty spot, his first Premier League goal for 706 days since he scored in January 2020 against Leicester.

It was Noble's fifth successful penalty against Watford in the competition, with only the Premier League's record scorer Alan Shearer having put away more spot-kicks against a team in the competition, netting seven against Everton.

Leicester City goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel confessed he is at a loss to explain the club's poor defensive record.

The Foxes came from behind to claim a point against Spartak Moscow in Europa League Group C on Thursday after Daniel Amartey cancelled out Victor Moses' opener.

Leicester had a chance to secure victory when Moses gave away a penalty but substitute Jamie Vardy saw his spot-kick saved.

Moses' goal meant Brendan Rodgers' side have failed to keep a clean sheet in each of their last nine games in all competitions, and have only managed one in their last 15.

Schmeichel told BT Sport: "We are conceding too many goals at the moment but had enough chances to win it.

"Why are we conceding? If I knew it wouldn't be happening. It is something we are working on every single day but is not working too well at the minute.

"The game was there to be won. We dominated most of the game and they had a couple of chances and scored. We are conceding too many goals at the moment but had enough chances to win it.

"When you are not getting the luck you have to dig in and work harder. We have to look at ourselves, we cannot blame anyone else and have a massive Premier League game coming up against Leeds United."

Leicester have won just one of their last six games in the Europa League (drawn three, lost two), while failing to keep a clean sheet in each of the last five.

They were poor in front of goal against the Russian side, with just three of their 13 attempts on target despite enjoying 76.9 per cent of possession.

Group C is wide open, though, with third-placed Leicester a point behind second-placed Legia Warsaw and two behind leaders Napoli.

The Foxes play both sides in their remaining two fixtures which means their fate is in their own hands.

Kelechi Iheanacho acknowledged Leicester's forward players were equally culpable as their defensive colleagues for the draw with Spartak and they must improve in front of goal to qualify for the knockout phase.

"It was a frustrating game, we conceded a sloppy goal but got back into the game," added the Foxes striker.

"We were on them for the last 10 minutes, tried every means to score but we have to focus on the next two games now. Hopefully we will win and go through.

"The first half we kept the ball well and moved it quickly, in the second half we came out well but it was one of those games. We have to do a bit more.

"We missed a couple, we need to do more in the offensive side. It didn't come tonight.

"Everyone is down at the moment, we need to now focus on the next games. The Premier League first then look to progress in the Europa League."

The dark horses fell at the penultimate fence.

Wembley Stadium on Wednesday was one step too far for Denmark. From that awful moment when Christian Eriksen collapsed, through two group defeats, a battering of Russia and Wales and Joakim Maehle's magic against the Czech Republic, Kasper Hjulmand's men have captivated fans at Euro 2020 more than any other side.

Against England, the brutal truth of football took over. Denmark were good, but just not good enough. The standout individual performances, the critical moments, the game management – they belonged to the Three Lions.

Fans should commiserate, of course, but they should celebrate, too, for what their team have produced in these past few weeks.

England had been the most resolute of all sides at these finals. Five games, five clean sheets – their best return at a major tournament. They had not let in a goal since March. Midway through the first half against Denmark, Jordan Pickford broke Gordon Banks' record of 720 minutes without conceding.

It was likely to take something special to break that run. Barely 60 seconds later, it duly arrived.

Mikkel Damsgaard, 21 years old, unleashed a sensational, dipping free-kick from more than 30 yards out that flew past Pickford's despairing grasp. It was the first direct free-kick scored at these finals and the eighth direct goal involvement the Sampdoria man – who is sure to attract interest from across the continent – had managed in seven starts for his country.

Damsgaard served up a moment worthy of the stage, of the exceptional tournament Hjulmand's men have had.

It was unfortunate then to concede an equaliser via captain Simon Kjaer, his desperate lunge to stop Raheem Sterling scoring a tap-in only sending the ball into the unguarded net. Perhaps Schmeichel could have done more to cut out Bukayo Saka's cross, though Sterling would have scored a minute earlier but for a mighty block from the Leicester City goalkeeper.

 

Schmeichel has enjoyed trips to Wembley this year. On May 15, Leicester lifted the FA Cup thanks to two moments of stupendous quality against Chelsea: Youri Tielemans' goal, and Schmeichel's fingertip save from Mason Mount. He repeated the trick here, flying to his right to claw away a Harry Maguire header and stopping Kane's goalbound low strike on the stretch in the second half.

You began to sense that, if penalties came, Schmeichel might prove the hero. When he finally faced one, he did indeed keep it out – but the rebound fell at Kane's feet for the easiest Wembley goal he will ever score. He still made a last-second save to deny Sterling at the end of extra time, as if to remind us of his real quality.

There is never a good way to lose a semi-final, but this 2-1 loss felt cruel on Denmark. England deserved to win the match, that's certainly true, but Schmeichel did not deserve to lose. Captain Kjaer, a hero in the truest sense when Eriksen's life was in danger, should never have been the man to score an own goal in his country's biggest game in 29 years.

When it comes to results, elite football can be a harsh place. But events like these are also about the journey, and Denmark's at these finals has been one to remember.

Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel is hoping to turnaround a wretched individual record against England captain Harry Kane in Wednesday's Euro 2020 semi-final.

Kane has put a slow start to the tournament behind him during the knockout stages, following his game-sealing header in the 2-0 last-16 win over Germany with a brace in last weekend's 4-0 quarter-final demolition of Ukraine in Rome.

Leicester City keeper Schmeichel knows all about Kane's lethal qualities from their duels in the Premier League.

Indeed, Kane's 14 goals past Schmeichel are more than he has managed against any other goalkeeper across all competitions.

One of those was in a 4-2 win for Spurs at the King Power Stadium on the final day of the Premier League season that denied Leicester a Champions League place.

On the other hand, Schmeichel went unbeaten by Kane or any other England player when Denmark drew 0-0 at home with the Three Lions in last season's Nations League before winning 1-0 at Wembley, where their semi-final will also take place.

"He's a world class striker, someone who can always guarantee you a lot of goals during the season," Schmeichel told a pre-match news conference.

"He's a very dedicated and professional player. He knows where to position himself, he's very instinctive.

"I would say that he is among the top three or top five strikers in the world."

 

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, who shares a club dressing room with Kane, ranks him even more highly.

However, the Denmark midfielder insists he will have no special tips for his defensive colleagues.

"I don't need to introduce Harry Kane for anyone," he said.

"Behind closed doors he is very professional. He's good at what he does, he's very dedicated.

"He's just an incredible football player. So, for me, Harry is the best player in that position.

"It is an honour to play with him every day but I'm sure that, with the defence we have, it's going to be tough for him."

 

Denmark head coach Kasper Hjulmand does not see his team as underdogs and hopes the pressure of having 60,000 expectant home supporters can work against England.

"There are some psychological factors in the game," he said. "They have a lot of supporters, but we also have to remember that they have a lot of pressure and expectations.

"I don't think it is going to be so easy for them. We believe that we can take advantage of the pressure that England feel."

The prize for England would be a first major final appearance since their 1966 World Cup triumph, with the prospect prompting plenty of excitement across the country.

The hopeful refrain of "It's coming home" from the Euro 96 song 'Three Lions' has become something of a rallying call, although Schmeichel – whose father Peter helped Denmark to a shock success at Euro 92 – could not resist poking a little fun at his adopted country's expense.

"Has it ever been home?" he chuckled.

"I don't know, have you ever won it? Was [1966] not the World Cup?"

Schmeichel added: "To be honest, I haven't given any thought to what it would mean to stop England, rather than what it would do for Denmark – the joy it would bring to a country of five million people, competing with the nations we're competing with.

"I've not really thought much about England's feelings on this."

Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey took the glory, but Wales would not be through to face Denmark in the Euro 2020 last-16 stage on Saturday without the saves of Danny Ward.

On Saturday, Ward will line up for Robert Page's side, with the man who is keeping him out of the Leicester City team, Kasper Schmeichel, in the Denmark goal.

The 28-year-old Wales shot-stopper made 13 saves across his team's three group games, which is a total that was only bettered by Finland's Lukas Hradecky (15) and Turkey's Ugurcan Cakir (18).

He made on average 6.5 saves per goal conceded, the best record of all goalkeepers who were beaten at least once (Gianluigi Donnarumma and Jordan Pickford both kept three clean sheets), with Wales shipping just twice in three games.

That tight defensive record came despite Wales having an expected goals against (xGA) total of 5.47, and it meant Wales had the largest differential (3.47) between their goals-against tally and their xGA. Opta tallies expected goals figures on a formula that looks at variables including the type of assist, angle of the shot and its distance.

Bale and Ramsey unpicked Turkey to impressive effect in the second group game, but Ward's overall importance cannot be overestimated.

Now Ward and Schmeichel will be on show in Amsterdam in the opening knockout game, with Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers sure to be taking an interest.

Ward said this week: "Kasper's a good goalie and Denmark are a good team. It's going to be tough, you have to respect people, but we've got to believe in what we want to do. We fancy ourselves against anyone."

Bale, stuck in a 14-game goal drought for his country, may fancy facing Schmeichel, having scored twice against him when Tottenham beat Leicester 4-2 on the final day of the Premier League season.

Denmark have come through a testing first fortnight in the tournament, enduring the horror of seeing Christian Eriksen suffer a cardiac arrest in their opening game against Finland.

Eriksen's steady recovery – to the point where he has been able to leave hospital – has been uplifting, and coach Kasper Hjulmand is now able to focus firmly on matters on the pitch, with an emotional 4-1 win over Russia seeing the Danes through to this stage.

Hjulmand says too much emphasis has been placed on who starts games for the Danes, insisting their squad depth is a major plus point.

"We have been so strong in the second half in many matches," Hjulmand told UEFA.com. "We have been so strong in the last 20 minutes of every match. And it's just as important who is on the field when the match ends as who starts."

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Wales - Aaron Ramsey

Driving runs from midfield behind opposition lines are such a strength of Ramsey's game, and Denmark will be wary of the Juventus man. Indeed, he has had 16 of Wales' 97 shot attempts across their Euro 2016 and Euro 2020 campaigns to date, beaten only by Bale's 33.

Denmark - Mikkel Damsgaard

The Sampdoria youngster shot into the spotlight with his supreme strike against Russia. Damsgaard has been directly involved in six goals in his five appearances for Denmark in all competitions, scoring three and assisting three. The goal against Russia made him Denmark's youngest goalscorer in a World Cup or European Championship, at the age of 20 years and 353 days.

KEY OPTA FACTS

– None of the 10 previous meetings between Wales and Denmark in all competitions have finished level, with Wales winning four to Denmark’s six. This is the first meeting between the sides since November 2018, with Denmark winning 2-1 in a Nations League match on that occasion.
– Denmark have won each of their last three competitive meetings with Wales in a run stretching back to June 1999. This is the first meeting between the sides in a major tournament.
– Denmark became the first team in European Championship history to reach the knockout stages of the competition having lost their first two group games.
– Wales have only lost two of their last 16 competitive matches in all competitions, although those two defeats have arrived in their last five games, including last time out against Italy. They have not suffered consecutive competitive defeats since June 2019.
– Denmark recorded 59 shots in the group stages, with the average of 19.7 shots per game their highest on record in a major tournament (Euros and World Cup).
– Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg has three assists in his three games so far at Euro 2020, with no Denmark player recording more at a single edition of a World Cup or European Championship before.

Denmark's decision to resume their Euro 2020 clash with Finland following Christian Eriksen's cardiac arrest "was the least bad one", according to forward Martin Braithwaite.

Inter midfielder Eriksen was given CPR by medics late on in the first half of Saturday's Group B match after collapsing with no other players around him.

The fixture was suspended while Eriksen received life-saving treatment on the field, but it resumed a little under two hours later after the midfielder was confirmed to be "awake".

Tournament organisers UEFA said it agreed to restart the match "following the request made by players of both teams".

However, Denmark boss Kasper Hjulmand said on Sunday that the game should never have resumed from the 41st minute, with his side going on to lose 1-0 in Copenhagen.

The Danes also had the option of coming back the following day, but Braithwaite believes the decision they made was the best on offer.

"None of the options were good. We took the least bad one," Braithwaite said at a news conference on Monday. 

"There were lots of players who were unable to play. We were in a bad place. We made the least bad decision."

Joel Pohjanpalo scored a famous winner for major tournament debutants Finland from their only attempt of the match, with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg missing a penalty for Denmark 14 minutes later.

Kasper Schmeichel was also on the field at the time of the horrific incident involving Eriksen and agreed with Braithwaite that Denmark were put in a difficult spot.

"We have been put in a position where, on a personal level, I think we should not have been placed," he told reporters.

"We had two options: either come back the next day [Sunday] at noon or resume the game. 

"Someone higher up than us would have had to tell us that this was not the time to make such a decision, and that we should probably wait until the next day to decide.

"But what happened has happened, and let's hope they learn from it."

In the latest update provided by the Danish Football Union on Monday, Eriksen is said to be in a "stable and good" condition as he continues to be monitored in hospital.

Schmeichel revealed at the same news conference that Eriksen was "smiling and laughing" when he visited his team-mate in hospital on Sunday.

Denmark return to Group B action on Thursday with another home match against Belgium.

Kasper Schmeichel has revealed stricken Denmark team-mate Christian Eriksen is "smiling and laughing" in hospital after being kept alive by the "miracle" work of quick-thinking medics.

Inter midfielder Eriksen was given CPR on the pitch during the first half of Saturday's Euro 2020 clash with Finland in Copenhagen after collapsing with no other players around him.

Denmark's team doctor Morten Boesen confirmed on Sunday that the 29-year-old suffered a cardiac arrest and "was gone" before being resuscitated on the field.

In the latest update provided by the Danish Football Union on Monday, Eriksen is said to be in a "stable and good" condition as he continues to be monitored in hospital.

Eriksen also released a statement on Monday via his agent Martin Schoots, thanking those who assisted him and vowing to get to the bottom of what caused the cardiac arrest.

The former Ajax and Tottenham midfielder now appears to be on the mend, with Schmeichel allowed to visit him in hospital on Sunday.

Speaking at a news conference alongside Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Martin Braithwaite on Monday, Schmeichel said he is "grateful" his colleague is still alive.

"It was damn nice to see him smile and laugh and be himself, and just notice that he is there," Schmeichel said.

"Visiting him was a wonderful experience and something that has helped me see that he was okay after lying there.

"We talked about nothing and everything. As long as he is well, that has to be the most important thing. He has experienced something that we have not experienced. 

"He has a completely different experience of the situation. It was great to talk to him, and now we have a lot of work to try to navigate."

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.

Medics were on the field within seconds and provided the playmaker with life-saving treatment, while Denmark's players formed a ring around their team-mate in an attempt to preserve his privacy.

Opening up on the horrific incident for the first time, Schmeichel added: "It's a violent experience. But he is here today, and I am very grateful for that.

"The only heroes there are the doctors who saved him. We are professional football players, but these people dedicate their lives to saving people. 

"That they could do it under that pressure... I cannot describe how much admiration I have for them. That they could bring him back is a miracle. 

"I even think about how I would have my team-mates react if I was lying there. Then we have some amazing people on this team. A captain and a coach who knows how to act.

"It characterises us as a team and country that we stand together until the very end.

"I knew Christian's wife, children, and parents were there, so at one point I tried to look for them. It is an inhuman situation for them to go through.

"I have chosen to say to myself that this has had a happy ending. It's not the end yet, but it could have been so much worse."

Hojbjerg was also on the field at the time of the incident and was left shaken by the experience of watching his close friend receive CPR.

"I saw Christian lying there and looking towards the field. His eyes were white and I thought it looked very strange," Hojbjerg said.

"I saw Simon Kjaer rush off, and then you start thinking what it is. I walked slowly across. More and more first aiders came over, and I could see Simon waving his arms.

"I stood for a long time with the coaches and talked, and I could see that there are some arms that move with the first aid. That was creepy."

Barcelona forward Braithwaite added: "We were all about to lose a friend and a team-mate. 

"I do not remember exactly what I said in the prayer. But it has strengthened my faith, that's for sure."

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 the Group B match 1-0.

Denmark are back in action on Thursday with another home game against Belgium.

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