Denmark and Australia will clash for the first time in an international tournament, and the stakes could not be higher. The second match of the group stage is often where dreams are either made or shattered, and neither team can really expect to progress from this tough Group C if they are to lose this one.
For Denmark, they will know that after their match against Peru and a looming clash with European giants France, a win here would secure their place in the second round. Australia on the other hand are coming off a first up baptism of fire against the French, and will be aware that they will need at least a point in this match to ensure they have something to play for against Peru.
The Danes were good in qualifying for this tournament, and certainly got better as time went on. The thanks for that must go to star midfielder Christian Eriksen, who scored 11 goals for his country (bettered only by Poland’s Robert Lewandowski and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo). Denmark first crushed top-six rated side Poland by four goals in the latter stages of qualifying, before they outplayed the Republic of Ireland 5-1 to ensure qualification via play-off.
Australia required not one but two qualification play-offs to reach this tournament, taking their tally of matches up to twenty, the equal most out of any nation at the World Cup. Impressively, the Australians lost just twice throughout their campaign, and will come into the tournament battle-hardened and full of resolve.
Our initial concerns regarding their new manager have proved to be unfounded; Bert van Marwijk looks to have a Guus Hiddink-like hold on the Australians who played out of their skins against France and were unlucky not to get a point.
Yet their loss highlights the gulf between European and Asian nations at the World Cup, and while Australia and Denmark boast some notable players, the overall quality of the Danish team sits well above that of the Australians. According to the FIFA ranking, Denmark are up in the top fifteen, while Australia sit outside the top 35. Australia’s record of just one win in nine matches against UEFA teams is also concerning.
It is no surprise to see Denmark enter this match as the favourite, although perhaps at better value than we had anticipated. The Danes start at -122, while the draw is also quite short and paying +243. Australia will start at outsider rates, offering +355 for victory.
The draw certainly isn’t out of the question here, although we feel that Australia’s lack of goal-scoring threat and tendency to concede at the World Cup can only result in a win for Denmark. A 2-0 victory to the Scandinavians is our prediction.