Denmark v France Preview - Can Didier Deschamps' side to secure top spot?by Gabriel Sutton / 26 June 2018, 09:57Tweet
The table alone would suggest that France and Denmark, on six and four points respectively, are the two stand-out teams in Group C, but the matches themselves show things have been a little more complex. After a fortuitous 1-0 win over Peru, Denmark then drew 1-1 with Australia despite rarely threatening in the second half.
Aage Hareide’s side started strongly and we saw – for the first time in the tournament – a glimpse of what Nicolai Jorgensen and Christian Eriksen can do when they combine, with the latter scoring a neatly-worked opener.
The way forward for the Danes must be to maximize that partnership and bring talented wide man Pione Sisto, who himself had a couple of decent efforts in Samara, into play. Instead, they have not been able to sustain that pressure and Hareide puts the second half against the Aussies down to fatigue:
“My players looked tired. You could see them tiring as the match went on. We tried to get our substitutes on to inject some energy but our game was restless. We lost the ball too often, faced too many counter-attacks and had to do too much running,"
The fact they have managed to attain a win and a draw is down to two factors. Firstly, they have a fine goalkeeper in Kasper Schmeichel, who has made seven stops from penalty-box efforts, more than anyone at Russia 2018.
Secondly, they have not faced the highest quality of opposition: when Australia and Peru played France, they only managed a combined three shots on target, which would imply that their lack of ruthlessness was a continual issue for both teams, more than a result of Denmark’s defending.
France are yet to hit their peak themselves, even if they were more deserving of a 1-0 win over Peru than Denmark were.
Even if they aren’t on top for long periods of their games, the combination of Paul Pogba’s passing, Kylian Mbappe’s movement, Antoine Griezmann’s guile and Olivier Giroud’s goal threat means that they can create clear cut chances during on short spells of pressure.
Pogba and Griezmann in training just messing about. pic.twitter.com/uZcfhxmCwD— Footy Vines (@Footy_Vines) June 25, 2018
Blaise Matuidi, controversially picked on the left side of midfield last time out, helped nullify the opposition threat and he is pleased with the start:
“Our attitude was right and we all worked hard. It’s important in this competition to stand together. We also created some great chances and there were times when we could have killed off the game. It’s satisfying, and the adventure continues.”
On paper, a draw would suits both teams: it would enable France to top the group and Denmark to join them in the last-16. It wouldn’t necessarily though suit either manager, both having been criticized for defensive football.
Deschamps knows he needs a convincingly dominant performance to improve national belief going into the knock-out stage and this might be the day his side show their full potential.
The Sack Race’s Prediction: 3-0 to France (35/1 188Bet)