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World Cup 2018: Denmark

 

You must go back to South Africa and the 2010 World Cup to find the last time Denmark played in the tournament.  Many neutral fans will not remember them at the event as the Danes bowed out at the group stages.

Having last reached the knockout stages of the World Cup in 2002, Denmark will be hoping to progress to the Round of 16 in Russia from a group containing France, Peru and Australia.

Denmark required a playoff to reach the 2018 World Cup finals having finished second in a qualifying group to Poland.  They were paired with Republic of Ireland and despite being held to a 0-0 draw in the first leg of the tie, Denmark dismantled the Irish in the away leg, defeating them 5-1 in Dublin.

The draw for the tournament has been kind and although France are the favourites to win Group C, Denmark have a great chance of finishing second and qualifying for the Round of 16.

Looking at Denmark’s squad, they have arguably their strongest team since the class of ’86 and while the current team must go some way to emulating the likes of Michael Laudrup and Preben Elkjaer they have one man who will key throughout the tournament and his name is Christian Eriksen.

It was the Tottenham Hotspur man who led his team to the World Cup with a fantastic hattrick in the second leg of the playoff against Republic of Ireland.  Having been in the playoff, it appears as though the Danes struggled to qualify for the tournament and they started slowly but their form has picked up at just right time.

 

The 4-0 victory over group winners Poland highlights just how Denmark have grown as a team in recent months and while Eriksen will need to be at his best in Russia, other players are stepping up to the plate.

 

Thomas Delaney has had a good season with Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga.  Another German based player, Leipzig’s Yussuf Poulsen, will be hoping to lead the Danish attack and get the goals which will see them remain in Russia beyond the group stages.

The key to Denmark’s chances will be the first two games of the group against Peru and Australia and if they win them, which they are favourites to do, the final match against France will be to see who tops the group.

Aage Hareide did well during his time at Malmo, leading them to the Swedish title and the Champions League group stages.  If he can take Denmark into the knockout stages of the World Cup, Hareide will receive the plaudits once more and although winning the tournament is out of the question, topping the group is not.