Denmark in focus

Wales welcome Denmark to the Cardiff City Stadium on Friday night with a first-place finish in their Nations League group up for grabs.

A win for either side would secure top spot, while a draw would leave Denmark needing to beat the Republic of Ireland in Aarhus on Monday to secure promotion to the top tier of European football.

Here, Football Paradise puts the spotlight on Wales’ rivals Denmark.

Form

Denmark v Wales – UEFA Nations League – League B – Group Four – Ceres Park
Christian Eriksen (left) scored twice in Denmark’s 2-0 Nations League victory over Wales in September (Tim Goode/PA)

Denmark reached the last 16 of the World Cup before losing to beaten finalists Croatia on penalties. The Danes had previously drawn 0-0 with eventual winners France in the group stage.

Denmark’s first post-World Cup game was shrouded in farce as a dispute over commercial rights saw a team comprising largely of third division and futsal players feature in a 3-0 defeat to Slovakia.

With the row resolved, Christian Eriksen scored twice in a 2-0 win over Wales. Denmark have since drawn 0-0 away to the Republic of Ireland in the Nations League and beaten Austria 2-0 in a friendly.

Coach

2018 World Cup Package
Denmark manager Age Hareide has won league titles in three Scandinavian countries (Niall Carson/PA)

Age Hareide showed himself as much an astute politician as a shrewd coach during Denmark’s damaging dispute over the players’ commercial rights. Hareide took no part in the Slovakia friendly in September, but he was back in charge for the Wales game four days later.

The 65-year-old counted Manchester City and Norwich among his clubs as a player, and a successful career in management has brought titles in Denmark, Sweden and his native Norway. Hareide spent five years as Norway boss and took them to play-offs for the 2006 World Cup finals. He was appointed Denmark manager in 2016.

Tactics

Hareide employed four and three-man defences during World Cup qualification, and often settled on a 4-3-3 formation in the last year or so. But star man Christian Eriksen can be freed up with Lasse Schone and Thomas Delaney sitting behind him, and this was the plan Hareide employed successfully in September’s win over Wales.

Eriksen scored both goals, one of them from the penalty spot, as he constantly drifted unmarked into space. Denmark’s strikers are not prolific, but Pione Sisto and Yussuf Poulsen provide width and pace.

Players

Denmark v Wales – UEFA Nations League – League B – Group Four – Ceres Park
Leicester’s Kasper Schmeichel is Denmark’s number one goalkeeper (Tim Goode/PA)

Tottenham playmaker Eriksen sprinkles the stardust to a team regularly described as functional. A solid base is provided by Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel and Sevilla defender Simon Kjaer, the captain. But Kjaer has had to sit out the trip to Cardiff and his absence will be felt.

Delaney has played his part in Borussia Dortmund’s rise to the top of the Bundesliga and will be key in the midfield battle. Poulsen is also enjoying a profitable season in Germany with six goals for RB Leipzig, already his best return in a Bundesliga campaign.

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Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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