Denmark and the Republic of Ireland both earned a UEFA playoff berth after finding success in their World Cup qualifying groups, and will now match up against each other in a two leg playoff with everything on the line.
Denmark versus Ireland: Who is the favorite?
Both sides have plenty of talent on their side to impress in the World Cup, but only one will qualify. Which nation will it be?
De Rød-Hvide were very impressive in their qualifying group. They were victorious in six out of ten matches, while drawing two and having two defeats. Their two defeats came in a matter of four days in October of 2016, but besides that stretch they have nearly been perfect. Denmark even looked world class in a 4-0 thumping of first-place Poland in a home match this past September. They averaged two goals a match while conceding an average of less that a single goal. Furthermore, the Danes are one of the most disciplined teams in Europe as they were only issued 12 yellow cards and no red cards in 10 matches.
Denmark has a plethora of individual talent at each position. Kasper Schmeichel is a very reliable goalkeeper, and has the ability to make miraculous saves as seen with his club of Leicester City. As good as Schmeichel is, he isn’t heavily relied upon as Denmark has three quality center backs in Andreas Christensen, Simon Kjær, and Jannik Vestergaard. These three defenders play for premier teams in Europe and have proven to be no easy task to get the better of.
The midfield has strong depth, but the name that stands out is Christian Eriksen. The Tottenham star is one of the best midfielders in the game, and he serves as the creator of Denmark’s attacks. Not only can he create endless chances in the final third, but he has the ability to score himself as seen in his 18 goals for his national side. He is on great form for Denmark too, as he has 12 goals in his past 16 matches. Any opponent of the Danes will center their defensive game plan around Eriksen.
Like the midfield, Denmark also has strong depth in terms of their strikers. The two most prolific strikers, however, will be Kasper Dolberg and Nicolai Jørgensen. Dolberg plies his trade for Ajax in the Dutch Eredivise, and has a very solid scoring record. Although he has yet to find the back of the net this season, he was in scintillating form last season with 15 goals in 29 league appearances and 7 goals in 16 European matches. He has yet to find a breakthrough with Denmark as he has a single goal in a mere three appearances, but he has all the talent to be the main number nine. Jørgensen also plays in the Eredivisie, but for Feyenoord. He was the league’s top scorer last season with 21 goals in 32 matches, but he also found the back of the net twice in four cup appearances and twice in six European matches. His scoring record with Denmark is decent too, with eight goals in 25 appearances. These two strikers are both capable of leading the line for a World Cup quality side.
The Republic of Ireland
Ireland finished second in their group behind Serbia, but were able to finish above a Wales side that was very impressive in the 2016 European Championship. The Boys in Green were able to claim 19 points from 10 matches, as they won five, drew four, and only lost one. Although they did well, they were not as organized as the Danes. They also conceded an average of less than a goal a game, but were only able to average 1.2 goals game. They also accustomed 10 more yellow cards then Denmark, finish with a total of 22.
The team doesn’t compare in individual quality to Denmark, but they are deep in terms of the majority of the players being quite similar in quality. Séamus Coleman is arguably their top player, but he is still in the process of recovering from a broken tibia. He will not be available until 2018, meaning Ireland must qualify in order to see Coleman in competitive matches in the near future. Besides Coleman, however, the Boys in Green have talented players such as winger Robbie Brady, midfielder James McCarthy, midfielder David Meyler, and striker Shane Long. The Irish are also one of the most passionate teams on the field with one of the most committed fan bases, which is always a formula for a potential miracle.
Everything considered, Denmark is the favorite in this match-up. Not only does the side have more individual talent, but they are on a better steak of form. The Danes have four wins and a draw in their last five matches, while the Irish have two wins, two draws, and a loss. Ireland has proven to always be an exciting team on the pitch and in the stands, but Denmark’s quality should see them victorious.