Welcome to Yahoo Sports’ team-by-team 2018 World Cup previews. With less than a month to go until this summer’s tournament, it’s time to get familiar with each of the 32 teams participating in Russia. Next up in Group C is Denmark.
For more analysis, lineup projections and predictions, head to our World Cup preview hub, bookmark it, and return as all 32 team previews and eight group previews roll in.
Our writers say: The Danish have not been so dynamite of late, missing two of the last three World Cups and two of the last three Euros. This entirely Christian Eriksen-centric team won’t set the world alight either. But its 5-1 destruction of Ireland in the qualifying playoffs demonstrates an ability to outperform its talent on the day. And a weak group improves Denmark’s chances of advancing – and likely crashing out in the Round of 16. — Leander Schaerlaeckens
(Odds via BetOnline, converted to percentages – and therefore slightly exaggerated)
World Cup appearance: 5th
Best World Cup finish: Quarterfinals (1998)
2014 finish: Did not qualify
Qualifying: Finished 2nd behind Poland in UEFA Group E, won playoff against Ireland
Schedule: Peru (Saturday, June 16, Noon, FS1), Australia (Thursday, June 21, 11 a.m., Fox), France (Tuesday, June 26, 10 a.m., Fox/FS1)
Manager: Age Hareide
Captain: Simon Kjaer (D)
Top players: Christian Eriksen (M), Kjaer, Pione Sisto (M), Thomas Delaney (M), Andreas Christensen (D)
Full 23-man (or preliminary) squad
Why they’ll win games: Eriksen is world-class, and is right at home at the heart of Denmark’s attack. Whether it’s from dead balls or open play, he is a constant threat. And the central defensive triangle – Kjaer, partner Andreas Bjelland, and goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel – is so in tune with one another that Chelsea’s Andreas Christensen hasn’t been able to break into the team very often.
Why they’ll lose games: Striker is a problem position. There’s no other glaring weakness, but the squad beyond Eriksen is rather ordinary. And there’s a question to answer in midfield – more on that two paragraphs below.
How they’ll play: They can play some stylish soccer. But the better the opponent, the more reliant they become on Eriksen. Around the Tottenham star, the attack is a bit unbalanced, with Sisto a true winger and creative force off the left, and Yussuf Poulson more of a second forward off the right.
Projected lineup (4-2-3-1): Kasper Schmeichel; Jens Stryger Larsen, Simon Kjaer, Andreas Bjelland, Riza Durmisi; Andreas Christensen, Thomas Delaney; Yussuf Poulson, Christian Eriksen, Pione Sisto; Nicolai Jorgensen.
The question pertains to Christensen. Hareide announced his intention to try the Chelsea center back in midfield prior to two March friendlies. But Christensen then had to pull out of those friendlies with a minor injury. Will a few World Cup warmups be enough of a window for the experiment? On one hand, the 22-year-old is undoubtedly one of Denmark’s better players. On the other, an Eriksen-Delaney-William Kvist midfield trio is seasoned and adequate, and therefore the safer play.
Up front, the options are Jorgensen, Niklas Bendtner, Andreas Cornelius and perhaps 20-year-old Kasper Dolberg.
What makes them unique: Uh … not much?
Why to root for them: Eriksen. Eriksen. And Eriksen.
Why to root against them: See two sections above.
If you’re going to watch one game … Watch the opener against Peru, because it’s the most important game of the group. If there’s a winner, it’ll probably decide the group.
Group A: Russia | Saudi Arabia | Egypt | Uruguay
Group B: Portugal | Spain | Morocco | Iran
Group C: France | Australia | Peru | Denmark
Group D: Argentina | Iceland | Croatia | Nigeria
Group E: Brazil | Switzerland | Costa Rica | Serbia
Group F: Germany | Mexico | Sweden | South Korea
Group G: Belgium | Panama | Tunisia | England
Group H: Poland | Senegal | Colombia | Japan
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More World Cup from Yahoo Sports:
• 2018 World Cup preview hub
• FC Yahoo Mixer: The Ronaldo vs. Messi debate
• How Vladimir Putin can use the World Cup to his benefit
• Ramadan dilemma for World Cup-bound Muslim players: faith or football?
• USMNT’s qualifying failure, as told by the two coaches responsible