The step back of the European team that came as the 9th candidate and stumbled against Tunisia

Posted 2022/11/22 33 0

The drawing of the first of April had given him a group more than favorable to Denmark. On that occasion he knew that he would share zone D with two teams with which he had coincided in Russia 2018France and Australia or Peru, plus a “new” opponent, Tunisia. A potential win against the Africans on the first date of the Qatar World Cup it would leave the Scandinavians in an excellent position to face the meeting against the defending champions, whom they beat twice in their Nations League group this year, and the chances of finishing top of the zone were high.

However, the Tunisians set out to surprise their own and others. When they were expected to be lesser rivals, against whom the European “powers” could obtain easy victories, the team he leads Jalal Qaderi he was in charge of turning the party into a martyrdom for the Danes. It would be wrong to describe it merely as a defensive play: Tunisia undoubtedly did a great job of covering space and frustrating attackers, and even in the first half they created the most dangerous chances with their fast, stabbing counter-attack. The 0-0 final ended up sowing many doubts in the coach Kasper Hjulmandand the second duel, against Blues, Now it takes on a much greater importance.

Aissa Laïdouni, one of the figures of the surprising Tunisia who got a good result against Denmark.
Aissa Laïdouni, one of the figures of the surprising Tunisia who got a good result against Denmark.

It is worth remembering what the expectations were about Denmark in the run-up to the World Cup. In last year’s Eurocup he suffered the shock of cardiac arrest of his top star and football leader, Christian Eriksenbut as the tournament progressed, he covered his absence in a great way, reaching the semifinals of the tournament at the hands of new figures, such as Joakim Maehle y Mikkel Damsgaard, before being eliminated by England in extra time and in controversial circumstances. They carried those good impressions through to qualifying for Qatar, where they were one of the first teams to secure their place: winning 9 of their 10 games in a row, scoring 30 goals in the process. And even when he secured his presence, being tested against more threatening adversaries (France, Austria and Croatia) in Group A of the Nations League, just one point difference from the Croatians kept him out of the Final Four.

best danish chances

The squad that Hjulmand chose also allowed, a priori, to get excited about a historic campaign. To the base of historical leaders like the archer Kasper Schmeichelthe central and captain Simon Kjaer and the talisman Eriksen (he made a miraculous return to his best version in 2022, forming Manchester United’s midfield), several youngsters joined who established themselves as solid options, such as the aforementioned Maehle and Damsgaard, Andreas Skov Olsen, Rasmus Kristensen y Jonas Wind. This was also reflected in the bets on the opening day of the World Cup: Denmark he was the ninth candidate for the title of championabove Uruguay and the world runner-up, Croatia.

Christian Eriksen marked his surprising return to elite football by playing in his third World Cup, but the debut was not the best.
Christian Eriksen marked his surprising return to elite football by playing in his third World Cup, but the debut was not the best.MIGUEL MEDINA – AFP

But at the premiere in Qatar, he was far from that electrifying and voracious team that he proved to be in that great continental campaign. Given the lack of space provided by Tunisia, Denmark was forced to have the ball for long periods of time, lateralizing the game and trying to skip lines, without much success. The shortcomings in generating chances, and eventually in finishing, exposed again the only apparent problem of the Danish squad, the Lack of a box striker. Kasper Dolberg He is not characterized by self-sufficiency or by being an extremely prolific scorer: only once in his career did he exceed 12 goals in a season, when he scored 23 at Ajax in a dream 2016/17. At 19 minutes into the second period he was replaced by Andreas Cornelius, who suffered the same fate, missing a header with an empty bow in the clearest opportunity of the game. Eriksen was once again the most effective weapon in the attack, and a mid-distance shot of his was saved in a great way by the goalkeeper Aymen Dahmen, one of the figures of the meeting. But these were isolated and rare situations.

Now, Hjulmand and his team are waiting for the most important game. In theory France is the most “known” opponent, and the Danes have beaten them twice this year with the base of footballers now traveling to Qatar. If Denmark wants to revalidate their credentials and dream of another memorable performance at an international tournament, pulling out a win over such an opponent would be the best way to go about it.

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