Danish journalist Klaus Egelund says the Socceroos are past their prime and pointed to an ageing Tim Cahill and Mile Jedinak.
After Denmark was drawn in Group C along with the Socceroos, FourFourTwo spoke to Danish journalist Klaus Egelund to get the insiders view of Australia’s Scandinavian World Cup opponents.
Denmark finished second in the 2018 World Cup qualification UEFA Group E and, like Australia, qualified for Russia via a play-off after they beat Ireland 5-1 over two legs.
Many in the Danish media have rated the Socceroos as the weakest team of group C and Egelund, who writes for Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet, predicates the same view.
“After the draw the general feeling is that Denmark will make it into the knockout phase,” he said.
“Nigeria and Serbia were the teams to avoid so from that perspective it was a relief to see Australia drawn. But the manager question makes it hard to judge what Australia will bring.
“Maty Ryan is obviously a world class keeper that will be hard to break and Aaron Mooy is also a man worthy of attention.
“But looking at Mile Jedinak and Tim Cahill holding up key roles I feel like Australia is a team past its prime and since the Danes normally handle British-inspired style well this is a good draw.”
If Australia is considered a team that plays a British inspired style, then Denmark must be the Little Britain of international football as Egelund revealed - the Danes don’t do playing out from the back.
“Denmark’s coach Åge Hareide took over from Morten Olsen after 12 years at the helm,” he said.
“He is a pragmatic Norwegian coach that has adopted a more direct approach to the game and shied away from the possession based style that his predecessor championed.
“Hareide prefers a 4-1-4-1 style that transforms into 4-3-3 with the team playing with attacking wing backs most of the time.
“Wingers will often play reversed so that they will cut in and shoot rather than go for the by-line.
“He has managed to make Eriksen a key player and he led Denmark thru 2017 unbeaten with a key moment being the 4-0 demolition of Poland.”
Denmark is the 12th ranked FIFA nation and posses a mixture of exciting youth and experience with many of the squad playing at top-flight European clubs.
In other words, the Danes won’t be a pushover in Russia and Egelund revealed that Denmark is buzzing about their World Cup chances.
“The feeling right now in Denmark is that the excitement is back for the first time in almost 20 years - since the Laudrup brothers quit after France 98,” he said.
“The golden years of the Michael Laudrup era of 1983 to 1986 have cast a long shadow that the following generations have struggled to escape.
“But in Christian Eriksen (Tottenham Hotspur) Denmark holds a genuine world class player. The Spurs mastermind had an impressive qualifying campaign scoring six matches in row and crowning it all with a hat trick in the play-off final in Dublin.
“Furthermore, captain Simon Kjaer (Seviila) is a key player in central defence and has grown into a mature defender.
“Leicester City goalie Kasper Schmeichel is quick on the line, has strong reflexes and is very good with his feet. Werder Bremen box-to-box central midfielder Thomas Delaney has a nose for goal and is also good at set pieces.
“Pione Sisto - tops the assist list in La Liga ahead of your ordinary Lionel Messi, Andrea Iniesta and Cristiano Ronaldo. He created the vital equalising goal in Dublin and he is exploding into a key player.
“We have numerous others making their way like Kasper Dolberg from Ajax and Andreas Christensen who plays for Chelsea and are two of Denmark’s biggest prospects.”