Denmark v Australia: Danish Dynamite to step up a gearby Gabriel Sutton / 20 June 2018, 21:39Tweet
Denmark could be safely through to the last-16 of the World Cup come Thursday night, if they see off Australia and Peru fail.
If Age Hareide’s side are to qualify though, they must improve on their performance in Saransk, even if it was enough to beat Peru 1-0 though Yussuf Poulsen’s goal.
The clean sheet was largely down to factors that Hareide would not necessarily have included in his pre-match plan: last-ditch defending from centre-backs Simon Kjaer and Andreas Christensen, as well as a string of fine saves from Kasper Schmeichel.
Christian Eriksen’s world-class quality enabled him to provide the telling pass for the winner, but he was largely a peripheral figure; his teammates must be more assertive with their passing here and bring him into play more effectively.
It could be difficult for the Tottenham playmaker to find space, especially against a tenacious Australia outfit, who showed in their 2-1 defeat to France that they are unlikely to be out-fought in any game in Russia.
Hareide said of his opponents:
“They look solid as a team and the Australians always work hard. They fight with their heart and they are brave. I think Australia has been looking better day by day after van Marwijk came in,’’
Aaron Mooy, known for his passing ability but who showed the more aggressive side to his game recently, will patrol the midfield alongside bearded-battler Mile Jedinak and neither will allow the Tottenham man an easy ride.
Denmark therefore, must find alternative sources of creativity. Pione Sisto was pinpointed as somebody who could provide that before the tournament but the wide man, normally a speedy runner for Celta Vigo, was anonymous against Peru.
The Danes need him to take on Australia’s no-nonsense right-back, Josh Risdon, so that Mooy and Jedinak are forced closer to their own box, thus giving Eriksen an extra yard or two to hit the deliveries he is capable of.
When the balls do come in, the Danish Dynamite need target man Nicolai Jorgensen to be more dominant in the opposition box; the Newcastle target is 23/10 with Marathon Bet to score any time.
Socceroos centre-backs Mark Milligan and Trent Sainsbury, 5’10” and 6’0” respectively, were able to quickly snuff out France attacks when the opposition had short forwards on the pitch, but found it much harder to handle the power of Olivier Giroud in the final 20 minutes.
Jorgensen must do something similar; at 6’4” he has the physical minerals to bully those centre-backs, but for that to happen, he needs to first improve his first touch from the opening game and he also needs more support from the midfield, which dropped very deep in the second half against Peru.
While Australia showed in Kazan that they can be awkward opposition – and Mooy’s quality makes them a threat from set pieces – they are unlikely to create too much in open play.
Bert Van Marwijk’s side managed just six shots against France and one on target. They could play the mobile Andrew Nabbout up top or the more powerful Tomi Juric who is just coming back from injury; both are selfless workers but neither necessarily have the goalscoring pedigree to strike fear into Kjaer and Christensen.
If, in the absence of the injured William Kvist, Thomas Delaney can shackle strong runner Tom Rogic, therefore, then the stage will be set for the more creative Lasse Schone to step up into the opposing half and take control.
Although Denmark were below-par in their opener, we back them to go up another gear in Samara.
Prediction: 2-0 to Denmark (8/1 with Betstars)