Denmark boss Age Hareide admits that his players hate facing Ireland – but insists that should be taken as a mark of respect.
The two sides will meet at the Aviva Stadium on Monday night with Euro 2020 qualification at stake in the final round of Group D fixtures.
It is the sixth clash between the pair in two years and several Danish players, most notably Thomas Delaney and Christian Eriksen, have appeared to be less than complimentary about their opponents in the wake of a run of games which has yielded four draws and a 5-1 World Cup play-off win for the Danes in Dublin.
However, Hareide is adamant that their dislike of lining up against the Irish is a measure of how difficult they are to play against.
He said: “Our players have respect for Ireland, I have said it myself: the team looks good, they are well organised, they are hard to beat.
“You know they have a big heart. I played against them myself in the 80s and there were a lot of great players in that team.
“I played with them in my career at Manchester City and Norwich and they were really good team-mates. They were always there in the matches and they always gave 100 per cent.
“All our players say they don’t like to play Ireland, and that means respect when players say that because if you said you love to play Ireland, there would be a difference.”
Both countries are among the host nations for next summer’s finals and are desperate to be involved on the pitch as well as off it, and while he knows the game in Dublin will be a tense affair, Kasper Schmeichel is confident the visitors will come out on top.
The Leicester goalkeeper said: “It’s a massive game, qualification for a massive tournament. For me personally, it would only be my second major tournament, so it’s a huge game and a game that we’re going to win.”
A draw will be enough to see the Danes through, although Hareide has no intention of playing for a point on a night when there are sure to be twists and turns.
Whether or not teenage starlet Troy Parrott gets a chance to make an impact remains to be seen, but Denmark midfielder Christian Eriksen has seen enough of his Tottenham team-mate to know exactly what he can do if he does.
Asked about his chances of first-team football at Spurs, Eriksen said with a smile: “He has a tough one to beat, though. If he’s going to beat Harry Kane, it’s going to be tough, but he’s done very well.
“He’s trained with us for a while now and he played a few games in pre-season. He’s a good player. It’s bad to say he’s like Harry Kane because he’s not, but he is similar. He’s good on the ball, good finishing and makes some good runs.
“He’s still young, so he has a lot to learn, but he’s a good lad.”
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