The Republic of Ireland welcome Denmark to the Aviva Stadium on Saturday evening determined to gain revenge for their World Cup heartache.
Eleven months ago, the Danes made the same journey knowing Ireland held the upper hand in the the race to Russia after a 0-0 play-off, first leg draw in Copenhagen, but left with a thumping 5-1 victory and a ticket to this summer’s finals firmly in their grasp.
Here, Football Paradise takes a look at the Republic’s Nations League rivals.
Denmark made it to the second round at the World Cup finals courtesy of a 1-0 victory over Peru and draws with Australia and eventual winners France in the group stage. However, their involvement thereafter was short-lived as Croatia, who would also go on to make the final, beat them 3-2 on penalties after a 1-1 draw in Nizhny Novgorod. A dispute over commercial rights saw the Danes field a team comprising largely of third division and futsal players in a 3-0 friendly defeat by Slovakia last month, but the big guns were back in harness to beat Wales 2-0 in the Nations League four days later.
Age Hareide and Martin O’Neill are old friends as well as old foes. The pair were on the books together at Norwich and the Norwegian once rented a house from the Northern Irishman. Former Molde, Manchester City, Canaries and Norway defender Hareide has won league titles as a coach in Sweden, Denmark and his native country, who he took to the play-offs for the 2006 World Cup finals.
Hareide employed four and three-man defences during World Cup qualification, but has settled on a 4-3-3 formation in the last year or so. That system is designed to get the best out of playmaker Christian Eriksen and although the Tottenham midfielder is currently injured, the manager is likely to change personnel rather than formation to accommodate a replacement.
Eriksen is undoubtedly Denmark’s star man and his absence for what Hareide fears could be an extended spell would come as a blow. However, he is not alone with keeper Kasper Schmeichel a Premier League winner with Leicester a little more than two years ago, defender Simon Kjaer playing his football in LaLiga at Sevilla and midfielder Thomas Delaney in Germany at Borussia Dortmund.
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