Just five days after the tragic events involving Christian Eriksen, Denmark are in action again taking on FIFA’s top ranked side Belgium in Copenhagen.
The footballing world was left in shock on Saturday afternoon as the Inter Milan forward was rushed to hospital, but he’s confirmed his stable condition now and his teammates will be looking to put in a performance for him.
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That won’t be an easy task against table-topping Belgium though, who dismantled a Russia side that didn’t put up much resistance in the opening round of fixtures.
Now they could welcome both Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard back to the starting XI, though the former may not be risked from the start, with an all-but-guaranteed spot in the Last 16 up for grabs.
The Danes will take heart from the fact that before experiencing defeat against Finland, they’d tasted it only twice in their last 12 internationals – and kept a clean sheet in eight of them
Their slim hopes of a result here will rest on their resolute back line keeping The Red Devils at bay, and utilising the pace of Martin Braithwaite and Yussuf Poulsen to attack Belgium’s aging defence on the counter.
It’s likely that that simply won’t be enough though, so expect De rød-hvide to be under the cosh for most of the game. Not to mention, one of the aforementioned two defeats was a 4-2 drubbing at the hands of today’s opponents.
The Man in the Middle
Taking charge of this one is well-respected official Björn Kuipers. Keeping with the theme of the tournament so far, the hair-studio-owning Dutchman is rather conservative with his cards.
In 20 Eredivisie games last season, he showed just 41 cards (at a rate of 2.05 per game) – an average that only increased slightly in non-Dutch games to 3.08.
The line for cards in this game (2.5 at ⅚) probably isn’t worth touching, despite how shockingly low it is. Referees have been keeping their cards in their pocket so far this tournament, and until that clearly changes, cards are not our friend right now.
Instead, I’ll be opting for Belgium to win at 11/10 as my main play.
I’m also taking my chances with Romelu Lukaku to score, Belgium Over 12.5 Shots and Belgium to win at 5/1 with bet365 (BetBuilder).
My expectation for this game is for Denmark to sit in and challenge Belgium to unlock their stout defence, which should translate into a lot of shots for a Belgium side that has averaged 15.78 shots per game in competitive internationals over the last three years.
Then, if anyone has the form and the confidence to break down Kasper Schmeichel’s Danish wall, however, it’s Romelu Lukaku.
‘Big Rom’ has scored 20 goals in his last 15 competitive internationals, including a brace the last time he faced Denmark. In fact, it’s well worth backing him to score a brace too at 6/1. Of those 20 goals, 14 came as part of braces.