Denmark and Ireland are getting ready for their showdown in Dublin on November 18 that will determine which team automatically qualifies for Euro 2020.
Relax Jens, don’t faint just yet: a point will be enough for the Danes to qualify on Monday.
A draw really doesn’t seem like an extraordinary request: Denmark have managed the feat four times against Ireland in the last two years, while the other game ended in a glorious 5-1 victory in Dublin to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
Even if Denmark fails to manage a point, they’ll have another opportunity to make it to the finals via the European Nations League playoffs next March.
A different Zealand
Before going up against the Danes, the Irish will play a friendly game against New Zealand on Thursday.
Ireland manager Mick McCarthy intends to give younger, inexperienced talent an opportunity to impress against the All Whites, but he will make sure the ‘Big Guns’ are primed and ready for the Red and Whites on Monday.
Ireland needs to play New Zealand “with the same respect, but quite clearly the game doesn’t have the same importance,” he told media.
“The players know that, I know that – I’ve been there. You want to play well in a friendly and there are a few nerves, but it’s not like Monday night.”
Ireland will have an extra element on their minds against the Danes: they will need a 2-0 win to qualify if Switzerland only manages to take four points from its upcoming meetings against Gibraltar and Georgia – even though that’s unlikely.
If they fail to win on Monday, Ireland, as Denmark, have an additional chance of landing a playoff spot – one of a myriad of permutations heading into the weekend.
How so? As my editor – himself a football enthusiast who owns a Puskás shirt – so eloquently put it: “Mere mortals don’t have time to look up all the fucking rules.”
There’s good news for Denmark team-wise: 19-year-old Brighton forward Aaron Connolly, who was supposed to play on Monday, will not make the cut as he suffered an injury during a recent game against Manchester United.
Connolly’s injury is a big blow to Ireland as one of its most important players, Séamus Coleman, is suspended.
The captain got a second yellow card for handball during the recent 0-2 loss to Switzerland.
So it’s looking good for manager Åge Hareide, who’ll enter the game with a Danish team that is undefeated in the qualifiers. In fact, the Danes haven’t lost a competitive game over 90 minutes since enduring a home loss to Montenegro in 2016.
The Danish Dynamite are really close to their dream of playing in a major tournament on home soil – all three of their group games will be at Parken.
First the formality of beating Gibraltar at home on November 15 and then three days later: Doomsday in Dublin – catch both games on Channel 5 and Eurosport Player.