It was do or die for Denmark in Montenegro last night. ‘Vind eller forsvind’, as they say in these fair lands. Fortunately for Danish 2018 World Cup hopes, they chose the first option.
In an intense match in Podgorica, a quality Chrisian Eriksen drive after just 16 minutes ended up being the difference – and it didn’t help the Montenegrins that their talisman Stevan Jovetic went off injured just four minutes later.
“Even though Montenegro pressured us, they didn’t get a lot of chances. It was a great team effort,” said Denmark coach Åge Hareide.
“A player like Eriksen ran an insane number of metres. Pione Sisto also ran a lot defensively. He has developed it into part of his game. He faced Montenegro’s right back, who is one of their best players.”
The win puts Denmark firmly in control of second place in Group E with just one round of matches to go. They can still finish first should they beat Romania in Telia Parken Stadium on Sunday, but Poland need to lose at home to Montenegro, and that looks unlikely given the 6-1 drubbing they administered to Armenia last night in Yerevan.
Seeded or nay?
So, it looks like playoff time again for the Danes.
Currently, the best second-placed teams in the other groups are Portugal, Italy, Northern Ireland, Sweden, Iceland, Scotland and Bosnia and seeing as the playoff round will be seeded according to the FIFA World Rankings, the Danes currently won’t be seeded. But that can still change.
Portugal (ranked 3rd), Italy (17th), Northern Ireland (20th) and Iceland (22nd) would be the top seeds, though Denmark is close behind on 26th and will leapfrog Northern Ireland and Iceland to become seeded if they beat Romania.
Still, plenty of things can happen on Tuesday, and Denmark first need to avoid losing to Romania, a match that is close to selling out.