Group C: Christian Eriksen can carry Denmark into last-16
Åge Hareide’s side reliant on Spurs star but have developed other strings to their bow
Christian Eriksen can carry Denmark into the last-16 in Russia. Photograph: Michael Regan/Getty
Who are they?
Of all the sobering nights for Irish football, last November’s 5-1 playoff trouncing at the hands of Denmark is up there as one of the worst. Martin O’Neill’s men – and much of the nation – headed into that fixture with genuine hope they were on the verge of making it to a first World Cup since 2002. Belief Ireland were equal to the Danes was boosted by a first leg 0-0 draw in Copenhagen – before the illusion was comprehensively shattered in Dublin three days later. That Christian Eriksen-inspired evisceration provided a glimpse of what Denmark are capable of – demonstrating a serious goal threat and a ruthless streak which could see them progress beyond the group stages in Russia.
Age Hareide’s side is, understandably, built around Tottenham playmaker Eriksen, who scored 11 goals in 12 games during qualification. Possession of a bonafide world-class player raises Denmark’s stock above some of the tournament’s other lower-middle tier sides, but they are slightly more than a one-man band. The Danes are defensively solid – captain Simon Kjaer is a 76-cap veteran at 29, and his excellent range of long passing from the back facilitates a more direct style of play, with Nicolai Jorgensen and Andreas Cornelius leading the line. The Danes are not just long-ball merchants however, and it would be interesting to see Ajax starlet Kasper Dolberg add to his four caps this summer.