Once again, Denmark’s bid to reach a major football tournament is going down to the wire. And once again, it’s all set to happen in a fierce November battle in Dublin.
The Danes had hoped that Ireland would get points off Switzerland last night – a result that would have seen the Danes qualify with a win at home against minnows Gibraltar.
But the Swiss shook off their defeat to Denmark on Saturday, beating the Irish 2-0 and setting up an all too familiar finale in Euro 2020 qualifying Group B.
The result leaves Ireland and Denmark equal on points with 12 (the Danes have a game in hand against Gibraltar), followed by the Swiss on 11 points (with games at home against Georgia and away to Gibraltar to finish up).
Assuming the Swiss win the aforementioned games, and Denmark beats Gibraltar, the Danes would need a draw in Dublin on November 18 to qualify for Euro 2020. A loss, however, would see Ireland qualify by virtue of better head-to-head results.
Up the Duffy
The Danes are obviously hoping for a repeat of the famous 5-1 dismantling of the Irish in Dublin in the 2018 World Cup playoff in late 2017, but statistically, a high-scoring situation looks unlikely to repeat itself.
The Danes have played Ireland five times over the past two years and the results have been: (0-0), (5-1), (0-0), (0-0) and most recently 1-1 in Copenhagen on June 7. In other words, it’s probably going to be tighter than a duck’s butt.
The good news for Denmark is Irish captain Seamus Coleman was sent off against the Swiss and will miss the game. The bad news is that defender Shane Duffy, who scored both of Ireland’s goals against Denmark in the past five meetings, will play – despite Danish TV incorrectly reporting otherwise last night.
Ace in the pocket
The Danes can also rest easy knowing that they’ll have a chance to reach Euro 2020 even if they lose to Ireland.
That’s because Denmark won it’s Nations League group (ahead of Wales and … Ireland again!) and will have the opportunity to have a two-leg semi-final playoff and eventual single-game final to be one of four teams to reach Euro 2020 that way.
But until then, it’s off to Dublin again to take on an Irish side likely gagging at the bit for some revenge for two years ago.
But hey, this time 0-0 will be just fine for Denmark, particularly given that Åge Hareide and company haven’t lost a game for three years! (not counting going out to Croatia at the 2018 World Cup on penalties).