World Cup 2018 Preview - Denmark

Thu, Jun 14 2018

Christian Eriksen celebrates scoring against Ireland during the play-off in Dublin last November. Credit: Eddie Lennon

Team: Denmark

Manager: Age Hareide

Group: C

Other teams in group: France, Australia and Peru

 

THE SQUAD

Throughout their history the Danes have been renowned as prolific travellers. This is certainly true of their current squad. Only three ply their trade at home with a total of eight other leagues currently being represented. Some of them may be in the lower leagues, particularly in England, but the core of their team is well established at the top end. A change also occurred during the qualifying campaign to lessen the emphasis on possession and become more attacking, moving away from their notorious long ball antics. 

The squad in full:

Goalkeepers: Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester), Frederik Ronnow (Brondby), Jonas Lossl (Huddersfield).

Defenders: Simon Kjaer (Sevilla), Mathias Jorgensen (Huddersfield), Andreas Christensen (Chelsea), Henrik Dalsgaard (Brentford), Jannik Vestergaard (Borussia Monchengladbach), Jens Stryger Larsen (Udinese), Jonas Knudsen (Ipswich).

Midfielders: Christian Eriksen (Tottenham), Lasse Schone (Ajax), Michael Krohn-Dehli (Deportivo La Coruna), Thomas Delaney (Werder Bremen), William Kvist (FC Copenhagen), Lukas Lerager (Bordeaux).

Forwards: Andreas Cornelius (Atalanta), Kasper Dolberg (Ajax), Martin Braithwaite (Middlesbrough), Nicolai Jorgensen (Feyenoord), Pione Sisto (Celta Vigo), Viktor Fischer (FC Copenhagen), Yussuf Poulsen (RB Leipzig).

 

HOW THEY GOT HERE

Denmark qualified through the play-offs, defeating the Republic of Ireland over two legs. A scoreless encounter took place in Copenhagen on 11th of November. Three days later in Dublin, an early Shane Duffy header gave the home side the advantage, but this was quickly cancelled out by Andreas Christianson and Christian Eriksson before half-time. Eriksson then completed his hat-trick in the second-half with Nicklas Bendtner completing the rout late on.

This had come as a result of finishing second in Group E behind Poland. An opening day win against Armenia was followed by successive defeats to Poland and Montenegro at home. Romania further dented their hopes by drawing with them in Bucharest. Victory away to bottom side Kazakhstan, sparked them back into life. They did infact inflict Poland’s sole defeat on them (4-0), they also won away to Armenia (4-1) and got revenge on Montenegro (1-0). This put them on the brink of finishing second which they secured with a one all draw at home to Romania.

"Thank you very much for giving him space," Hareide told reporters after the comprehensive win in Dublin, admitting he was surprised at the space star man Eriksson was afforded in the middle of the pitch. “Today he was fantastic. Always fantastic player on the ball, works hard for the team, inspiration for all the lads around him. That’s the difference between the sides."

KEY PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR

Christian Eriksson

Christian Eriksson was one of the top scorers across the European groups. Indeed, only Robert Lewondowski and Cristiano Ronaldo finished above him. From being somewhat of a peripheral figure under Morten Olsen, he has become the main figurehead. The Tottenham Hotspur play-maker is currently one of the main targets for a host of top European clubs this summer. His ability to drift in between defensive lines along with his deadly accuracy from set-pieces make him a player to fear.

Simon Kjaer

The Sevilla defender impressed many as the Spanish club progressed to the quarter-finals of the Champions League. And the captain is a mainstay at the heart of their rear-guard. Indeed, he is expected keep Andreas Christianson on the bench, despite decent showings for Chelsea. The Danish young player of the year for 2009, has played over fifty times for the national side. Strong in the tackle, his long passing helps keep his side on the front foot. He is one of few players to survive from the 2010 World Cup and 2012 Euros squads.

Thomas Delaney

The midfielder, who is set to join Borussia Dortmund, is a key part of the setup. He gives a physical presence, especially from free-kicks and corner-kicks. There are more strings to his bow than size however. The controlled passing and tackling helped reverse the play-off game in Denmark’s favour. His partnership with William Kvist is critical to their hopes of progression

 

WHERE THEY ARE PLAYING AND STAYING

16/06: Denmark v Peru: Mordovia Arena, Saransk

21/06: Denmark v Australia: Cosmos Arena, Samara

21/06: Denmark v France: Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow

They are staying at a complex in Beton Brut, Anapa. The resort is by the Black Sea, over 900 miles away from Moscow. This means they might have a chance to work on their tans but journeys are likely going to be quite arduous.  

 

THREE INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT THE TEAM

Save for a spell during the nineties, this is the first tournament in which Morten Olsson has not featured as either a player or manager. He was a defensive platform in the flamboyant attacking side of the seventies and eighties who gained international attention. This was particularly true of the 1986 squad. Age Hareide attracted a certain amount of suspicion due to being a former Norwegian coach and an indifferent spell in club manager. He did become one of a select few managers to win the league in three different countries.

Nicklas Bendtner scored the final goal in the humiliation of the Republic of Ireland back in November. An injury means that he is unable to make an appearance on the biggest stage of all but that did not stopped a petition to allow him to be included – as to whether he commissioned it, remains to be seen.

Thomas Delaney may sound like he is originally from Cork’s North-side, however, It is down to his American born father. He allowed him duel citizenship and could have led to him playing for USA but instead he decided to play for the country in which he had grown up in.

THEIR RECENT FORM

Hareida’s men have been in decent form in both of their warm-up games. They drew away (0-0) to Scandinavian rivals, Sweden, before defeating Mexico at home (2-0). They are currently unbeaten in competitive games since a qualifying group loss back in October 2016.

First game: The Danes play Peru in their opening Group C fixture on 16th June in Saransk.