World Cup 2018: How to make a profit on Denmark this summer
After a look at Uruguay and Morocco, Ben McAleer turns his attention to Denmark and looks at whether the current crop can replicate the class of 1992 and make a sustained impact at Russia 2018...
"Even if Denmark finish second, they have no reason to fear any of their potential last-16 opponents"
Those drawn alongside France in Group C have every reason to be confident of progressing to the next round of the World Cup. Peru will be boosted by Paolo Guerrero's availability after FIFA overturned his doping ban, with the experienced forward a key man for the South American side. Australia, too, have the means to upset the odds, however the Socceroos' chances of securing a last-16 spot remains relatively low considering the talent of their Group C adversaries.
It's Denmark [1.84] though who are the second favourites to qualify from Group C this summer. The European side may have required a playoff with Republic of Ireland to secure their spot at Russia 2018, yet they breezed past the Boys in Green, winning 5-1 on aggregate. Their history in the tournament is spotty to say the least, with Russia 2018 their fifth involvement in the World Cup, but they have reached the round of 16 on three of those four occasions.
Plenty of top talent in the Denmark squad
Their 1992 triumph at the European Championship should provide ample inspiration for a Denmark side hoping to leave a last impression this summer. Head coach Age Hareide has a quality squad at his disposal and it's easy to see why they'll fancy their chances of easing to the knockout stage of the World Cup. Christian Eriksen is the star man, and for good reason. Only Kevin De Bruyne (106) made more key passes than the Tottenham star (95) in the Premier League last season, while his hat-trick in Dublin in November helped seal Denmark's place in the competition.
Aside from Eriksen, in a number of positions, Denmark are well stocked. Kasper Schmeichel is a title winning goalkeeper, while Jannick Vestergaard, Zanka, Andreas Christensen and Simon Kjaer are all quality defenders. Thomas Delaney and William Kvist are a solid shielding pair in Hareide's ideal 4-2-3-1 formation and Pione Sisto and Yussuf Poulsen offer speed and power on the flanks, with the duo's approach different from one another, affording the Danes unpredictability on either wing. Nicklas Bendtner's absence is a blow, but Nicolai Jorgensen, who has scored 31 league goals since the start of the 2016/17 Eredivisie season, and Kasper Dolberg are more than capable of leading the line if called upon.
Could Denmark upset the odds and top Group C?
Even still, with France struggling to stumble upon an ideal system under Didier Deschamps - the 1-1 draw with USA on Saturday night was far from ideal preparation - there is value in Denmark [5.7] to win the group on the Exchange. They haven't lost a non-FIFA registered match since a 1-0 loss to Montenegro back in 2016. An Eriksen inspired showing against Mexico over the weekend, with the attacker scoring one and assisting another, was the best way to see the team off ahead of the meeting with Peru this weekend and a 15-match unbeaten run to take into the World Cup means Denmark head into the tournament in the best possible form.
France may be the favourites to top Group C, yet even if Denmark finish second, they have no reason to fear any of their potential last-16 opponents. Argentina aren't exactly setting the world alight at present, while Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria each have their weaknesses. Any of the four teams could top Group D, but can just as easily come unstuck against Denmark should they play to their potential. There is value in Denmark [5.3] to reach the quarter-finals, while the Danes [11.5] to reach the semi-finals could help turn a profit, especially if they overcome Peru in their group opener. Victory would likely see those odds shorten, so it may prove wise to capitalise on their dark horse status on the Exchange.
While the favourites are the obvious money maker choices, there is trade potential in any number of the 32 group stages teams and Denmark are no different. With star quality and a fine run of results in the lead up to the World Cup, the Danish Dynamite are ready to explode onto the international stage and really prove their worth to the watching world and it's vital to jump upon this Denmark side.
Back Denmark to make the quarter-finals at [5.3]