Ahead of their World Cup play-off with Republic of Ireland, we provide the full lowdown on Denmark.
With a few extra days to prepare, the Republic of Ireland head to Copenhagen to take on Denmark, live on Sky Sports Football, on Saturday, with Martin O’Neill’s side avoiding the likes of Italy and Croatia in the play-off draw.
But are Denmark being underestimated ahead of the first leg in the Danish capital? Will they break Irish hearts and make a return to World Cup finals competition after missing out in 2014? Here, we look at the strengths, weaknesses and key players to look out for…
Denmark vs Rep Ire
November 11, 2017, 7:30pm
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Denmark lost two of their opening three qualifiers but rallied to finish second behind Poland in Group E.
Ireland must be wary of the momentum that Age Hareide’s side have under their belts. An impressive 4-0 demolition of Poland – a team ranked sixth in the world – in September was followed by 4-1 rout of Armenia, away from home, three days later.
Those two victories proved to be enough for Denmark to secure second spot, meaning they could afford to take their foot off the gas and draw with Romania in the final match.
With only eight out of nine second-placed sides making the play-offs, there was no guarantee Denmark would have one final shot at a summer in Russia, but only two nations who came second in their respective groups finished with a better qualification record than Denmark.
Eriksen wrapped up an impressive performance for Denmark with a stunning strike to seal a 4-0 win over Poland
One, rather familiar, asset stands out in this Denmark squad. It is no secret that Christian Eriksen reigns supreme in the Premier League assist-making charts, but for his country, he is very much the goalscoring marksmen.
Eriksen scored eight goals and provided three assists for Denmark in qualification- scoring more goals than any other midfielder in the UEFA standings.
Denmark’s direct style of play certainly helps Eriksen, who arrives onto knockdowns and picks off the scraps to devastating effect, with his long-range shooting a potent weapon. If it gets physical up front, Andreas Cornelius of Atalanta and Feyenoord’s Nicolai Jorgensen won’t mind one bit.
Lack of a Plan B. Take out Eriksen’s goals, and a hat-trick that Thomas Delaney scored against Armenia, and Denmark netted just nine more goals in qualification.
Rep Ire vs Denmark
November 14, 2017, 7:30pm
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Cornelius and Jorgensen have two each, which when you consider four of the qualifiers were against Armenia and Kazakhstan, who conceded 52 goals between them in qualification, is not exactly the most impressive record.
Defender and captain Simon Kjaer suffered an injury while in action for Sevilla against Barcelona on Saturday night and while he will be assessed by Denmark, meaning a Chelsea youngster, whose stock rose on our shores after impressing against Manchester United on Sunday, could be set to deputise.
Calm and composed, Andreas Christensen is starting to look like one of the revelations of Chelsea’s season, and clearly isn’t fazed by the big stage.
Celta Vigo’s Pione Sisto is also one to watch, offering the perfect foil to the imposing Danish forward-line.
Manager and style of play
It has been an interesting period for the Danish team. After the years of possession football under Morten Olsen, Hareide changed to a more direct, physical style for the last four games and it worked.
Hareide has used three strikers in these recent games with two big men, Cornelius and Jorgensen becoming key players for the coach along with the much smaller Sisto. The three have worked well in tandem, with Eriksen capitalising on the space created by the triumvirate.
Hareide will be familiar to British and Irish fans of a certain generation. The former defender played 64 times for Manchester City and Norwich in the 1980s before returning to his native Norway.
The 64-year-old has managed a variety of clubs in Scandinavia, as well as the Norwegian national team between 2003 and 2008.
What they’ve said
Former Ireland striker Clinton Morrison: “I’ve been speaking to a lot of players and ex-players and I think they’ll be happy with Denmark. To get them away in the first leg is big too, you want to go away first. Ireland are very good defensively, they can shut them out away and bring them back to the Aviva. It’s the best possible draw.”
Martin O'Neill is hopeful Jeff Hendrick will be fit for the first leg of the Republic of Ireland's World Cup play-off against Denmark
Hareide: “He [Erisken] is a world class player and if you have a world class player in your side you have to give him the freedom and space to work and use his skills. When I came in I spent a lot of time watching him playing at Tottenham, and I tried to get him into more or less the same role as he has there because that is important, that is where he has his daily work. He has a fantastic attitude, he really wants to be at his best for Denmark, and I think the way we play has brought Christian into a good position.
“I lost a play-off with Norway against the Czech Republic in 2005. This time I want to go to the World Cup.”