Denmark are quietly confident about their chances at this World Cup, and so they should be: last month they beat France 2-0 to complete a home-and-away double of victories over the world champions in the Nations League. It followed a peerless World Cup qualification in which the Danes racked up goals against decent sides like Austria and Israel, winning their first nine games and conceding only once until losing a dead rubber against Scotland in their final match.
In amongst that spell fell the rescheduled Euro 2020, where they made a deep run to the semi-finals galvanised by the national trauma of Christian Eriksen’s collapse, and the togetherness brought about by that experience has only make the Danish team stronger heading to Qatar.
Kasper Hjulmand’s squad is full of quality: the centre-back pairing of captain Simon Kjaer and Barcelona’s Andreas Christensen; wing-back Joakin Maehle who shone at the Euros; the complementary midfield duo of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Eriksen behind the forward threat of Sevilla’s Kasper Dolberg and rising star Mikkel Damsgaard. Young attacking players like Frankfurt’s Jesper Lindstrom and Brugge’s Andreas Skov Olsen have been gathering international experience and could have an important part to play. The only question mark is whether there are enough goals in the team to make a deep run in the tournament.
Group A will not be easy but Denmark would not expect to lose to either Tunisia or Australia, and they will not be scared of facing world champions France after recent success against them. There is the potential to face Argentina in the round of 16, a team trying to win Lionel Messi the World Cup one final time, but after all they’ve been through, this group of players are unlikely to be overawed by anything or anyone they come up against.
“I think this team has the potential to reach another level,” Hjulmand said recently. “When I think back to that Euro semi-final against England at Wembley, we know we can play a lot better than we did that day.”
Here is everything you need to know:
Group fixtures (all times GMT)
Tuesday 22 November: Denmark vs Tunisia – 13:00
Saturday 26 November: France vs Denmark – 16:00
Wednesday 30 November: Australia vs Denmark – 15:00
Goalkeepers: Kasper Schmeichel (Nice), Oliver Christensen (Hertha Berlin), Frederick Ronnow (Union Berlin)
Defenders: Simon Kjaer (AC Milan), Joachim Andersen (Crystal Palace), Joakim Maehle (Atalanta), Andreas Christensen (Barcelona), Rasmus Kristensen (Leeds United), Jens Stryger Larsen (Trabzonspor), Victor Nelsson (Galatasaray), Daniel Wass (Brondby), Alexander Bah (Benfica)
Midfielders: Thomas Delaney (Sevilla), Mathias Jensen (Brentford), Christian Eriksen (Manchester United), Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Tottenham Hotspur), Christian Norgaard (Brentford)
Forwards: Andreas Skov Olsen (Club Bruges), Jesper Lindstrom (Eintracht Frankfurt), Andreas Cornelius (FC Copenhagen), Martin Braithwaite (Espanyol), Kasper Dolberg (Sevilla), Mikkel Damsgaard (Brentford), Jonas Wind (VfL Wolfsburg), Robert Skov (Hoffenheim), Yussuf Yurary Poulsen (Leipzig)
Ones to watch
Star – Christian Eriksen: The Manchester United midfielder will return to a major tournament stage for the first time since collapsing on the pitch at Euro 2020 in an incident which shocked the football world. Eriksen now plays with the aid of a cardioverter-defibrillator and has rebuilt his career, first and Brentford and now at Old Trafford where he has quickly become a mainstay in Erik ten Hag’s midfield. The 30-year-old has amassed 117 caps for his country, scoring 39 goals, and his vision, creativity and dead-eye delivery will be crucial to Danish success at the World Cup.
Breakout talent – Jesper Lindstrom: The attacking midfielder came through at boyhood club Brondby, helping them to the Danish title in 2020-21, before heading south of the border to Eintracht Frankfurt where he has continued to impress. A talented dribbler and sharp passer with an eye for goal, Lindstrom was named Bundesliga Rookie of the Season in 2021-22 and started the Europa League final which Frankfurt won in May. He missed out on Denmark’s Euro 2020 squad but will certainly have a role to play in Qatar.
Odds to win the World Cup (taken from Betfair)
Denmark will be second favourites in Group A but they won’t be intimidated by the defending champions France, who were beaten twice by the Danes in their recent Nations League campaign. The Danes have talent all over the pitch and a togetherness few other nations can rival. They can certainly progress from the group, but whether they can go further than the round of 16 may require some luck of the draw. Defeated in the quarter-finals.
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