MX23RW : Thursday, July 29 08:39:55| >> :600:1280910:1280910:
Jun 21, 2018 at 1pm UK at Samara Arena (Samara)
Attendance: 40,727
Eriksen (7')
FT(HT: 1-1)
Jedinak (38' pen.)

Preview: Denmark vs. Australia - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole provides team news, predicted XIs and a full match preview for the World Cup Group C clash between Denmark and Australia in Samara.

Denmark could put one foot firmly into the last 16 of the World Cup when they take on Australia in Samara on Thursday afternoon.

A 1-0 victory over Peru in their opening match has left the Danes joint-top of Group C, while Australia's defeat to France means that they are playing catch-up from the off.


Yussuf Poulsen celebrates scoring during the World Cup group game between Peru and Denmark on June 16, 2018© Reuters

Denmark rode their luck at times during their first World Cup outing since 2010, but ultimately held out for a vital victory over Peru on Saturday which leaves them in control of their own destiny in Group C.

A VAR-awarded penalty was squandered by Peru, who also had 17 shots during a dominant but toothless performance, and in the end Yussuf Poulsen's goal proved to be the difference as he atoned for giving the earlier spot kick away.

Manager Age Hareide will know that his side may not be let off by the likes of France, or other teams later in the tournament, but victory is all that matters at the World Cup and the Danes have made a very encouraging start to their hopes of reaching the knockout rounds for the first time since 2002.

Indeed, a win over Australia on Thursday - coupled with victory for France against Peru later in the day - would guarantee a place in the last 16 with a game to spare, taking the pressure off for their most difficult match on paper, against the French on Tuesday.

That said, Denmark's recent form - and the nature of some of the results already at this World Cup - could take them into that match full of confidence, providing they can extend what is already a 16-game unbeaten streak against Australia.

Not since October 2016 have Denmark been beaten, and most impressive of all has been their defensive record in recent months. Hareide's side have not conceded a single goal in five matches this calendar year, most recently being breached in their 5-1 playoff win over Republic of Ireland last November.

Continuing that streak against Australia would see Denmark keep back-to-back World Cup clean sheets for the first time ever, while they are also looking to win their opening two group games for the first time since their debut World Cup campaign in 1986.

Should they manage that then they surely must begin to be regarded as candidates to be one of the surprise packages of the tournament, with their defensive solidity coupled with attacking creativity helping them boast the third-longest unbeaten streak of any team at the World Cup, behind only Spain and Belgium.

Recent form: W
Recent form (all competitions): WWDDWW


Mile Jedinak celebrates equalising from the spot during the World Cup group game between France and Australia on June 16, 2018© Reuters

There have been upsets galore at this summer's World Cup so far and, while Australia fell agonisingly short of producing their own, it was their display in their opening match against France which arguably set the tone for those that followed.

The Socceroos were every bit a match for the much-fancied French on Saturday, but a controversial VAR-awarded penalty and a gut-wrenchingly unfortunate late own goal saw them fall to a heartbreaking 2-1 defeat.

Such is the unforgiving nature of the World Cup that, despite such an encouraging display, Australia could now find themselves just 90 minutes away from elimination after only two games; victories for Denmark and France on Thursday would wrap up the two qualifying spots in Group C.

However, Bert van Marwijk will have seen enough in both his side's defeat to France and Denmark's win over Peru to suggest that Australia could kickstart their campaign with a win in Samara.

The gap certainly looks smaller than the FIFA rankings might suggest, putting Denmark 24 places above Australia, despite the Socceroos losing just one of their nine games prior to the France defeat.

However, the solitary loss in that time did come against Scandinavian opposition when Norway came from behind to run out convincing 4-1 winners in March - a result which does not bode well ahead of taking on a Danish team with significantly more attacking threat than Norway.

Even more worryingly ahead of meeting Christian Eriksen and co is the fact that Australia have only kept one clean sheet in their 14 previous World Cup matches, and that was all the way back in 1974 in a goalless draw with Chile.

The Socceroos have now lost their last four matches at the World Cup, and have lost seven of their last nine outings against European opposition in the tournament, with their only victory in that time coming against Serbia in 2010.

History points towards a Denmark win on Thursday, then, but should Van Marwijk's side produce a similar performance to the one they put in against France then that might just be enough against Denmark.

Recent form: L
Recent form (all competitions): WLDWWL

Team News

Christian Eriksen in action for Denmark on June 9, 2018© Reuters

Denmark will once again be hoping that Eriksen is able to wield his usual influence, having assisted the winning goal in their opening group game against Peru.

The Tottenham Hotspur midfielder has been directly involved in 17 goals from his last 14 appearances for Denmark, scoring 12 and assisting five more, and is undoubtedly the star man on show on Thursday.

Leicester City's Kasper Schmeichel will hope to extend a run of clean sheets which now stands at five for Denmark, last conceding an international goal 534 minutes ago.

The win over Peru was not all good news for Denmark, though, as they lost William Kvist to injury, although the midfielder is hopeful that he will have recovered from his broken ribs in time for the knockout rounds.

Lasse Schone is expected to replace him in the starting lineup for this match, while Jonas Knudsen is also available after flying home to see his baby daughter following the opening game.

Australia have no new injury concerns and so could name an unchanged lineup, which means that the tournament's youngest player Daniel Arzani may be forced to settle for a sub appearance once again.

Mile Jedinak's goal in the defeat to France means that he has now scored twice in World Cup finals matches for his country, with only Tim Cahill (5) having managed more than that.

Denmark possible starting lineup:
Schmeichel; Larsen, Christensen, Kjaer, Dalsgaard; Schone, Delaney, Eriksen; Sisto, Jorgensen, Poulsen

Australia possible starting lineup:
Ryan; Behich, Milligan, Sainsbury, Risdon; Mooy, Rogic, Jedinak, Kruse; Juric, Leckie

Head To Head

This will be the fourth meeting between these two sides, with Denmark narrowly edging the head-to-head record so far courtesy of two wins to Australia's one.

All of the previous meetings have come in friendlies, making this the first competitive contest between the two nations.

The most recent of their previous games came in June 2012 when Denmark ran out 2-0 winners, with Australia's only victory in this fixture coming almost exactly two years prior to that when they won 1-0.

Sports Mole Logo

We say: Denmark 1-1 Australia

Denmark will go into this game as favourites - and rightly so - but if Australia can play like they did against France then they should be able to hold their own. The Danes certainly have the quality to win this game, but we're backing a score draw.

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Yussuf Poulsen celebrates scoring during the World Cup group game between Peru and Denmark on June 16, 2018
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