Why Denmark’s best chance lies in playing ugly football
Danes face a tough test against Croatia
Age Hareide’s Denmark have reached the round of 16 for the first time since 2002, at this summer’s World Cup. But the Scandinavians now face a very difficult fixture against Croatia.
Vatreni have played some of the tournament’s best football, topping Group D with maximum points. Along the way, they chalked up a 3-0 rout of Argentina.
On paper the Danes look like firm outsiders. But there’s a chance they can pull off an upset.
The Coral News Team explain how they can, and why it won’t be pretty…
They’re most dangerous on the counter-attack
Even the most ardent Denmark fan would struggle to say their side were the better team in their 1-0 opening game defeat of Peru. But they implemented a gameplan that ended up working to perfection.
The Danes sat deep and soaked up the pressure against a good passing side who struggled to break them down. Their patient approach eventually paid dividends, with a superb breakaway move leading to Yussuf Poulsen’s 59th-minute goal.
With the crisp long-range passing of Cristian Eriksen, and the pace of players like Poulsen, Pione Sisto and Kasper Dolberg, they’re built for counter-attacking.
As for Croatia, if they have one weakness it’s their backline. Domagoj Vida and Vedran Corluka are hardly the paciest, and Dejan Lovren has a mistake in him.
Eriksen himself netted against Australia in game two, and is 7/2 to Score Anytime in this last-16 tussle.
They know how to frustrate and grind it out
Tuesday’s 0-0 draw with France secured second spot in Group D for the Danes. It was almost certainly the worst game of the tournament for the neutral. But fans of Hareide’s side won’t have minded.
While the French had 68% possession and 11 shots, they couldn’t break the deadlock. It marked the first time in 12 games that Les Bleus had failed to score.
Despite fielding the likes of Antoine Griezmann, Olivier Giroud and Thomas Lemar, the tournament second-favourites (at time of writing) were left frustrated.
The Danes were well-organised in defence, tough-tackling in midfield and frequently slowed down the play when they did get the ball, to kill any French momentum. It wasn’t great entertainment, but it proved they can keep out the tournament big guns.
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