Denmark will go head to head against Australia in the third Group C match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. THT looks at three players who could have a major impact on the outcome of the game.
Denmark will look to make it two wins out of two at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, when they take on Australia in their second Group C encounter at the Samara Stadium on Thursday.
The Danes got off to a winning start in the tournament, beating Peru 1-0 in their first game this past weekend. And another win on Thursday will mean their qualification to the Round of 16 will be all but guaranteed. Currently on a 16-match unbeaten streak, dating back to October 2016, Age Hareide’s troops will be optimistic of their chances heading into the game.
Australia were dealt an unlucky 2-1 defeat by France in their tournament opener and the Socceroos, staring down the barrel of a group stage exit, will be under pressure to get a win against Denmark at the Samara. Manager Bert van Marwijk, who led Netherlands to the final of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, will be hoping to inspire the Australians to come back strongly from the loss and take home all three points.
Ahead of the match, here at The Hard Tackle, we take a look at three players who could prove to be the difference makers on Thursday.
The 26-year-old, without a doubt, is the MVP of this Denmark side. Eriksen has been at the centre of the immense rise in stature that the Danish National Team has undergone in recent years and was their leading man during the World Cup qualifiers as well, contributing with 8 goals and 4 assists, before netting a hat-trick against Republic of Ireland in the playoff second leg to fire his team to the main tournament.
The attacking midfielder has been capped 79 times so far by the Danish Dynamites, in which he has managed to score 22 goals – sitting ninth on the all-time leading goalscorers’ chart for the nation. His performance in the opener against Peru might not have been exceptional, but he still made a difference, setting up the only goal of the game for Yussuf Poulsen with a lovely through pass.
The Tottenham Hotspur playmaker possesses immense quality and will hope to lead Denmark to a victory against the Socceroos to take them a step closer to safe passage through the group stage. With Barcelona reportedly watching, an outstanding performance could see the Catalans step up their interest.
The man who Australia will rely on to thwart the dangerous Eriksen at the Samara Stadium, captain Mile Jedinak will be extremely key for the Socceroos, heading into the crunch clash on Thursday.
The 33-year old has been around for ages now and has accumulated 77 appearances on the international stage for the Aussies. Last weekend, he scored his 19th goal for the country, when he netted from the penalty spot in the defeat to France.
Given the difficult situation that his men find themselves in, it will be up to Jedinak to keep the motivation levels high and ensure that the team steps up to the task against the Danes.
More importantly, the Aston Villa defensive midfielder will have to make sure the threat of Eriksen is neutralized. Given how effective the Danish playmaker can be when exploiting the spaces between the lines in the final third, Jedinak will have to be at the top of his game in order to nullify the 26-year-old’s impact on the proceedings.
The 31-year-old goalkeeper might not have attained the legendary status that his father did for club and country, but is an integral part of Age Hareide’s side and has constantly proven his worth to the team with some consistent displays on the international stages.
Schmeichel, heading into Thursday’s encounter, has kept five consecutive clean sheets and has conceded just three goals in his last 12 appearances for the Denmark National Team. He has played a huge role in the Danes’ unbeaten 16-game streak and was instrumental in their victory over the Peruvians in their World Cup opener as well.
The Leicester City shot stopper made a total of six saves on Saturday, making sure that his team walked away with all three points from the game. Set to make his 37th international appearance at the Samara, Schmeichel will be hoping to put in another strong display between the sticks against the Socceroos.