Fifa World Cup 2018: Denmark's success depends on Eriksen's dynamite effect

Christian Eriksen
The past decade or so hasn't been the best of periods for Denmark football team. The national team missed out on qualifying for two of the past three FIFA World Cups and needed to beat Ireland in a playoff to book a ticket for 2018 Fifa World Cup in Russia.

 

However, coached by Age Hareide, Denmark will command respect when football's biggest tournament gets underway on June 14.

 

Danish football team manager, Age Hareide succeeded Denmark’s longest-serving coach in Morten Olsen after the Scandinavian country’s failure to qualify for UEFA EURO 2016. A former Norway international defender and coach, his decades of top-level experience helped the Denmark football team to reach Russia 2018 via a qualification play-off victory over Republic of Ireland.

 

The squad boasts depth and, in Tottenham Hotspur playmaker Christian Eriksen, world class talent, even if there are question marks over the team's attack. In addition, the 'Danish Dynamite', as the team is affectionately known by local fans, have the luxury of a relatively tame draw. Victory in the first game against Peru on June 16 will go a long way to guaranteeing the Scandinavian side's place in the knockout phase.

 

Another win five days later against an unheralded Australia will ensure Denmark's progress, regardless of the result of the final group match against France.

 

 

What will be Denmark’s manager strategy in Russia 2018?

Hareide is likely to adopt a 4-3-3 formation, continuing the formula used in his team's 5-1 thrashing of Ireland last November in the playoff game for 2018 Fifa World Cup. On that occasion, Eriksen was the star of the show, bagging a hat-trick as the team secured a place in Russia.

 

Key Denmark player to watch out in Russia 2018

The Spurs No 23 will be joined in Denmark's midfield by Werder Bremen's Thomas Delaney, who enjoyed an impressive 2017-18 season in the Bundesliga. Celta Vigo's Pione Sisto is another ace up Hareide's sleeve. The 23-year-old was something of a revelation in La Liga last season with nine assists and can be used as an attacking midfielder, winger or second striker. The defence also looks solid with a center-back pairing of Andreas Bjelland and captain Simon Kjaer. In goal is Kasper Schmeichel, the son of Manchester United great Peter Schmeichel. Kasper stepped out of his father's shadow by helping Leicester City to the 2016-17 Premier League title, the club's first top-level trophy.

 

However, Denmark's attack does not look quite as impressive. Options include Nicolai Jorgensen, Niklas Bendtner, Andreas Cornelius and Kasper Dolberg. Hardly an inspiring group, although 20-year-old Dolberg has shown promise for Dutch side Ajax.

 

How was Christian Eriksen performance in recent times

Without a doubt this is Eriksen. The 26-year-old had another superb season in the Premier League in 2017-18, with 14 goals and 11 assists across all competitions. Denmark’s play-off hero was in inspired form throughout his team’s qualifying campaign. Only Robert Lewandowski and Cristiano Ronaldo could better the midfielder’s remarkable goal haul of 11 in Europe’s Russia 2018 preliminaries. His performance in the November playoff in Dublin also showed that he is capable of performing when the stakes are highest. That effort took his tally in Denmark's World Cup qualifying campaign to 11 goals. Eriksen's fine range of passing, calmness in possession and ability to shoot from distance make him a nightmare for opposition defences. At 26, the former Ajax player is arguably in, or at least approaching, the best years of his career. A strong showing at 2018 Fifa World Cup in Russia would confirm the Dane's place as one of the finest midfielders of his generation.

 

Denmark’s Road to Russia 2018

 

After a slow start to their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign, Denmark won four of their last five fixtures before their rout of Ireland over two legs. They have since played two international friendlies at home, recording a 1-0 victory over Panama and a goalless draw against Chile in March. More stern tests await in the coming days, with World Cup warm-up friendlies against Sweden and Mexico.

Key game

Denmark-France, (26 June 2018, Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow)

The match between two highly fancied European sides will likely be given top billing during the third round of games in Group C. The countries know each other well, having gone head-to-head on the World Cup stage on two previous occasions, both times in the final match of the group. On the road to their sole triumph in 1998, France secured a 2-1 victory, but in 2002 it was the Denmark who emerged victorious, 2-0, when the reigning world champions flattered to deceive.

 

While Denmark's recent form can hardly be described as consistent, they have been able to deliver when it matters most. And in Eriksen, they have a player who could just make the difference between a poor or average tournament and a memorable one.

 

Squad news:

Coach: Age Hareide

Star player: Christian Eriksen

 

World Cup best: Quarter-finals 1998

 

Goalkeepers: Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester), Jonas Lossl (Huddersfield), Frederik Ronow (Brondby), Jesper Hansen (FC Midtjylland)

 

Defenders: Simon Kjaer (Sevilla), Andreas Christensen (Chelsea), Mathias Jorgensen (Huddersfield), Jannik Vestergaard (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Andreas Bjelland (Brentford), Henrik Dalsgaard (Brentford), Peter Ankersen (FC Copenhagen), Jens Stryger (Udinese), Riza Durmisi (Real Betis), Jonas Knudsen (Ipswich), Nicolai Boilesen (FC Copenhagen)

 

Midfielders: William Kvist (FC Copenhagen), Thomas Delaney (Werder Bremen), Lukas Lerager (Bordeaux), Lasse Schone (Ajax), Mike Jensen (Rosenborg), Christian Eriksen (Tottenham), Daniel Wass (Celta Vigo), Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Southampton), Mathias Jensen (FC Nordsjaelland), Michael Krohn-Dehli (Deportivo La Coruna), Robert Skov (FC Copenhagen)

 

Forwards: Pione Sisto (Celta Vigo), Martin Braithwaite (Bordeaux), Andreas Cornelius (Atalanta), Viktor Fischer (FC Copenhagen), Yussuf Poulsen (RB Leipzig), Nicolai Jorgensen (Feyenoord), Nicklas Bendtner (Rosenborg), Kasper Dolberg (Ajax), Kenneth Zohore (Cardiff)