World Cup Preview: Croatia v Denmark

Who? Croatia - Denmark
Where? Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod
When? July 1, 20:00 (CET local time)

Croatia (Eden Roitfarb)

The night and the stadium where The Vatreni have captured everyone’s hearts this summer was in Nizhny Novogrod – after beating Argentina 3-0. Today, Croatia return to the town that is located 5 hours east from Moscow, this time to face Denmark in the round of 16. During the group stage, the Nizhny Novogrod stadium had the highest average of goals with 3.75 scored per game – a fact that would open our appetite for some entertaining football on Sunday.

The Croatians come after a 2-1 win over Iceland in a match that did not matter too much for them, besides keeping a fair play spirit and sportsmanship. The fight for second place was very dependent on the score, but Croatia played some of its main players and fought to win. Milan Badelij, who received the chance to start, repaid coach Zlatko Dalic’s faith with a goal and an assist. After finishing first in the group, Croatia find themselves in what is considered the more “comfortable” path to the finals. Many pundits name Spain as the only major powerhouse in this half of the bracket, but the Croatians would fancy their chances to achieve something unimaginable this summer – perhaps even topping their Bronze medal glory from France 1998.

But first, a very tough Danish team are waiting, and they are hungry for success as well. The two teams participate in big tournaments fairly regularly but have only met previously in Euro 1996, in a game that takes back Croatian fans for a trip down memory lane. Davor Šuker scored twice in a 3-0 win, while his second goal was a magical chip over Danish goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel.  22 years later, Peter’s son Kasper is in goal for Denmark – and he will need to stop Croatia from creating another iconic and memorable moment.

Denmark (Yossi Medina)

Just like Croatia, so does Denmark dream of a first quarter-final appearance since 1998. With their talented squad and strong play that they perform in the group stage, Denmark wants to make the match harder for the Croatians.

During the group stage we saw one of the greatest Danish players nowadays, Christian Eriksen score and bring glory for Denmark. As a Tottenham player, Eriksen can get some inspiration from Luka Modrić, who also played for Spurs until he signed for Real Madrid while he was 26 years old. Eriksen is in the same age today, maybe he can dream on a new adventure on the future.

Denmark almost didn't reach the knockout stage in a major tournament since 1998. Their win against Nigeria at the round of 16 in that World Cup was their last knockout win and since than they lost three times in knockout matches, against Brazil in 1998, against England in 2002 and against Czech Republic in 2004. After 14 years of being eliminated in the group stage or even not qualifying at all, Denmark have the chance to make a great achievemtn.

Åge Hareide and his players are ready to make history. Croatia is the clear favorite, but if Denmark will keep their defensive style and their tough work, they can upset and make the game much more interesting.

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World Cup Preview: Denmark v France

Who? Denmark - France
Where? Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow
When? June 26, 16:00 (CET local time)


One Instagram post in the last week is worth a full throwback for Denmark. It was in June 24, 1998, 20 years ago. Denmark met France for the last match of the group stage, knowing that a draw will be enough to qualify for the next stage. Even though that France eventually defeated them, Denmark quailed since South Africa failed to win in their game.

This memory was posted by Peter Schmeichel, the legendary goalkeeper of Denmark in that World Cup. Peter will sit comfortably while his son, Kasper, will try to do the same with Denmark in 2018. Kasper showed in this World Cup more than once why he is worth the place as a leading goalkeeper not only in Denmark, but also in a league like the Premier League.

It took a long time until Kasper Schmeichel reached this peak. Kasper failed to impress, played in some of lowest levels, such Scottish team Falkirk and League Two side Notts County. In 2012 he arrived to Leicester. It took three seasons in the Championship and one more season in the Premiership bottom, until he finally found himself in his greatest moment.

The marvelous 2016 season, the year that Leicester City surprised the world all the way to the English title, was Kasper's moment. With one of the most impressive defensive record in the league and his first championship title, Kasper could feel some of the glory that his father had.

Today, it's clear that Kasper will not be close to Peter's achievements. Maybe he will never reproduce the iconic somersault from 1999 Champions League final, but Kasper can do something else. He can still make a decent journey with Denmark in the World Cup. If that will happen, Kasper Schmeichel may have a special place in the Danish football hall of fame, right next to his father.


Didier Deschamps and France can be satisfied enough with their way until now. With 6 points in their first matches, Les Bleus are already thinking about the next stage. The calculations are now updated to see whether it will better to be in the first or the second place, after Argentina might fail to reach the round of 16.

France and Denmark met a few times in the past during the World Cup. Except from 1998, the teams also played each other in the 2002 World Cup, also in the last match day. Denmark won 2:0 in a game that was the grand finale for one of the worst World Cups in the history of France. 16 years later, France are in a completely different position.

One of the amazing facts about France is about their second consecutive knockout stage appearance. Amazingly, it happened only once before, in 1982 and 1986. For years France failed to impress for two World Cups in a row. Notably, we can mention their two group stage eliminations in 2002 and 2010, four years after reaching the World Cup final.

France are always favorites in these matches. Now all they have to do is enjoy the game and check what will be their destiny in the future of this World Cup.

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World Cup Preview: Denmark v Australia

Who? Denmark - Australia
Where? Samara Arena, Samara
When? June 21, 14:00 (CET local time)


The Danish team began their World Cup with a win and now they are getting closer to qualify for the knockout stage. All they need to do is to win again, but it wouldn't be easy against the Australians.

After the match against Peru, Denmark need to get used to the fact that William Kvist will not return to play in the tournament. The player who will take his place in the lineup is the veteran Lasse Schöne, who always looks impressive and can play a major role in this match.

It's not the first time that Denmark plays against an AFC team. In 1998 they defeated Saudi Arabia 1:0. In 2010 they lost against Japan 1:3, a defeat that helped Japan to qualify for the next stage, while Denmark has been eliminated in the group stage.

Denmark will need to work hard in order to get the points. With the full confidence of the players and the coach Åge Hareide, Denmark is ready to do it for their fans and nation, all the way to first knockout stage appearance since 1998.


Nobody thought that Australia will defeat France, but the Socceroos made an impressive performance against one of the best teams in the World Cup. Even though their only goal was score by a penalty kick, Australia is optimistic before the next match.

The scorer of that goal, Mile Jedinak, reached an interesting mark as he is the second Australian to score in two World Cups. Jedinak's previous game made him also get two more milestones. With this goal, he got equaled to Graham Arnold in the 9th place of all-time top goalscorers of Australia. Moreover, he passed Toni Vidmar and he is ranked also in the 9th place of the most capped players in the team.

Another player that got some focus in the last days was Aziz Behich. The Australian left back got some bad news as FIFA decided to award the second French goal as an own goal by Behich instead of crediting it to Paul Pogba. Behich will need to avoid any thinking about it, as Australia will have to play with a strong defense in order to prevent any Danish chance for goal.

The Australian want to show that they are worth a place in the next stage. Winning against Denmark can be a great proof of that. Now they need to fight and dare to do anything to achieve that.

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World Cup Preview: Peru v Denmark

Who? Peru - Denmark
Where? Mordovia Arena, Saransk
When? June 16, 18:00 (CET local time)

Peru (Omri Tancman)

Probably as a preparation for its first match ever against Denmark, Peru played several friendlies against Nordic teams. On March 28th, Peru has beaten Iceland 3-1 and on June 9th, Peru finished in a 0-0 draw its match against Sweden. In both games two of the players that excelled are Renato Tapia and Jefferson Farfan.

For many, and for a reason, Paolo Guerrero is the main man for Peru. However, two players that should be noticed are Farfan and Tapia. Farfan on one hand, is an experienced journeyman and in many ways he has a very important role this summer for Peru. The scorer led Lokomotiv Moscow to winning the Russian title this year, after 14 years. His experience in European football and knowledge with Russian culture may present some important value exceeding beyond the boundaries of the pitch itself.

Compared to Farfan, Tapia on the other hand is a young promising player. Nevertheless, like Farfan he is well familiar with European football and especially in the Netherlands. Tapia has played in the Netherlands since 2013 for Twente and since 2015 he is a Feyenoord player. This experience should help him cope with Danish players and tackle their game. The Dutch league is home in recent years for many Danish players, such as Christian Eriksen, current Tottenham star that emerged in Ajax, and Denmark first-team striker, Nicolai Jorgensen, Tapia’s fellow teammate.

Denmark is considered by many as the favorite in this clash. However, Peru’s recent history against Nordic teams, Farfan’s experience in Russia and Tapia’s acquaintance with Danish players may result altogether to a bright start for the Peruvian campaign in group C.

Denmark (Yossi Medina)

After missing the last World Cup, Denmark is back and they want to show some of their talent in Russia. Denmark is coming with some of the leading players in the European football such as Christian Eriksen of Tottenham and Lasse Schone of Ajax.

Denmark brings also a young and talented generation to this World Cup. Three years ago, the U-21 national team reached the U-21 European Championship semifinals and made a great performance. In the current squad you can find seven players that have been a part of this championship and some of them have an important role in Denmark's qualification.

One of them is Yussuf Poulsen, who plays for RB Leipzig. Poulsen is a son of a Danish mother and Tanzanian father and is showing some of the new generation of young European players. Another great player is Viktor Fischer, who returned to his home nation at the last season as he played for FC Copenhagen.

With a long tradition of football, Denmark believes that they can make it through the next stage. As France is expected to finish on the top of the group, Denmark will fight against Peru and Australia. Defeating Peru will be an improtant step in the way for this objective.

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