Denmark will host the Republic of Ireland in a UEFA Nations League B dead rubber at Ceres Park on Monday, with the final positions in Group 4 decided
Monday will be the penultimate day of action in the UEFA Nations League group stage, with the final standings across the four divisions starting to be identified. In Group 4 of League B, Denmark and the Republic of Ireland will lock horns at Ceres Park in Aarhus, with nothing left to play for in their group.
Indeed, the final Group 4 standings have been set in stone following Denmark’s 2-1 win over Wales, a result which took the hosts to the top of the standings. While Denmark secured promotion to UEFA Nations League A, the result also meant that Republic of Ireland have been relegated to League C.
Denmark have picked up form over the last two international breaks following two successive losses, including one in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Round of 16 at the hands of Croatia. Age Hareide’s men are unbeaten in the UEFA Nations League, with two wins and a draw from their three games so far.
Republic of Ireland, on the other hand, are in turmoil, with no wins in their last five games. Three of these winless results have come in the UEFA Nations League. And, with just a solitary point from their three games, the pressure continues to grow on Martin O’Neill, who is at his lowest ebb as the head coach of the national side.
The reverse fixture, played at the Aviva Stadium on Matchday 3, ended in a goalless stalemate, with neither side managing to impress much. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the UEFA Nations League encounter.
Team News & Tactics
With a place in the UEFA Nations League A secured, Age Hareide could ring in the changes to give some of his regular players a night off to get some much needed rest. Some of the changes though, would have been forced anyway, if the match was going to have some high stakes.
Kasper Schmeichel and Thomas Delaney are suspended, and the duo have returned to their respective club sides earlier than scheduled as a result. Hareide has also allowed Nicolas Boilesen to return to FC Copenhagen, while Christian Eriksen could be rested against the Republic of Ireland on Monday.
In Schmeichel’s absence, Frederik Ronnow is likely to start between the sticks for the hosts, with Jonas Lossl pulling out of the squad due to an injury. The back-four should bear a brand new look, with Hareide likely to give the quartet of Peter Ankersen, Andreas Bjelland, Jannik Vestergaard and Jonas Knudsen lining up in defence.
In the middle of the park, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Lukas Lerager will form a narrow midfield pivot that will be aiming to provide solid cover to the backline while also recycling the ball quickly. In Eriksen’s stead, Lasse Schone should start in the no. 10 role, don the armband for Denmark and take set-piece duties as well.
Meanwhile, Kasper Dolberg, who has been in fine form at the start of the season should lead the line for Denmark. Martin Braithwaite should retain his place after scoring the promotion clinching goal against Wales, while Pione Sisto is expected to be deployed on the left flank.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Ronnow; Ankersen, Bjelland, Vestergaard, Knudsen; Hojbjerg, Lerager; Braithwaite, Schone, Sisto; Dolberg
Republic of Ireland
Martin O’Neill is feeling the heat due to a string of winless results, and it is being speculated that the UEFA Nations League encounter against Denmark could be his last in-charge of Republic of Ireland. The head coach though, could make a few changes as well, albeit those who will still keep the level of the side high. O’Neill, like Hareide, is also missing a number of players due to injury and suspension.
John Egan suffered a calf injury during Thursday’s goalless draw with Northern Ireland, while Sean Maguire could last just 12 minutes after coming on a substitute due to a hamstring issue. Alan Browne is also out of the trip to face Denmark due to a shoulder injury, while James McClean is suspended.
In McClean’s stead, Robbie Brady, who made his first start for Republic of Ireland after a year, should move to the left wing-back slot, with Cyrus Christie taking Seamus Coleman’s spot on the opposite flank. Behind them, the back-three could be changed completely, with Richard Keogh, Shane Duffy and Kevin Long coming into the side.
In goal, Darron Randolph should retain his place, and the Middlesbrough goalkeeper will be a key figure for the visitors. In the middle of the park, Harry Arter will be the workhorse for Republic of Ireland, while Jeff Hendrick will be hoping to make his presence felt in the final third. Scott Hogan will be hoping to start while Callum Robinson will be aiming to break his duck for the national side.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Randolph; Keogh, Duffy, Long; Christie, Hendrick, Arter, Hourihane, Brady; Hogan, Robinson
- Republic of Ireland are winless in their last seven competitive meetings with Denmark (D4 L3) since a 2-0 win in a Euro 1980 qualifier in May 1979.
- In fact, Republic of Ireland have not beaten Denmark in a competitive match away from home since their first ever visit in October 1957.
- Denmark have not lost any of their last 10 matches at home across all competitions (W6 D4), since a shock 0-1 defeat to Montenegro back in October 2016.
- Republic of Ireland have kept four clean sheets in their last five meetings with Denmark (W2 D2 L1), losing 5-1 in the other in November 2017.
- Republic of Ireland have won only one of their last ten internationals (D3 L5), winning 2-1 against USA in June thanks to a 90th-minute goal from Alan Judge.
Player to Watch
It has been a tough year for Robbie Brady, who has spent much of 2018 on the sidelines due to a horrific knee injury. Back to full fitness finally though, his return will be key to lift some pressure off the underperforming Republic of Ireland side, especially at a time when Martin O’Neill is under intense pressure to improve the results.
The Burnley midfielder is likely to start out wide for the visitors, an area of the pitch where he does the most damage. While Ireland are set to drop down to UEFA Nations League C, a spectacular showing from Brady could ease some of the frustrations.
Denmark 0-0 Republic of Ireland
Goals have come at a premium for both Denmark and Republic of Ireland, more so for the visitors. And, with Martin O’Neill’s future hanging by a thread, the Irish could produce another determined showing at the back, especially with Denmark set to be missing a number of game changers.
The match should still be a keenly contested affair. But, there should be very little to separate Denmark and Republic of Ireland on the night. The Hard Tackle predicts another goalless stalemate between the two sides on Monday, with this possibly being O’Neill’s last match in-charge of the national side.