In their last friendly before the two teams travel to Russia for the World Cup, Denmark welcomed Mexico to the Brondby Stadium in Copenhagen on Saturday, June 9th.
Both teams take part in potentially tricky groups in the tournament. Denmark open their involvement on June 16th when they take on Peru. Then it’s Australia on 21st, before they take on one of the favorites on 26th – France. Mexico, meanwhile, start against Germany on June 17th, then they play South Korea on 23rd, and they end the group stage when they meet Sweden on 27th.
Head coach Aage Hareide arranged the home team in a 4-3-3 formation, with Kasper Schmeichel in goal, Henrik Dalsgaard, Simon Kjaer, Andreas Christensen and Jens Stryger Larsen as the back four, Christian Eriksen in the middle of the park flanked by William Kvist and Thomas Delaney, while Yussuf Poulsen and Pione Sisto supported Nicolai Joergensen in attack.
Mexico took a slightly different shape. Juan Carlos Osorio in their dugout tried to put a stronger accent on midfield: 4-1-4-1. Guillermo Ochoa in goal, Jesus Gallardo, Hector Moreno, Hugo Ayala Castro and Carlos Salcedo at the back, Hector Herrera as the deep-sitting midfielder behind the quartet of Jesus Corona, Andres Guardado, Jonathan dos Santos and Giovani dos Santos, and Oribe Peralta as the lone striker.
The First Half
It was a very dynamic 45 minutes. Initiative shifted constantly from one team to the other, with the Danes slightly better organized and maybe having a bit more control over the proceedings, but the Mexicans were always quick to threaten on the break displaying considerably higher levels of individual skill.
The player that stood out over the others in that respect was Jesus Corona. The Mexico winger caused Denmark all sorts of trouble, whether by breaking down the flank and going around opponents with ease, or cutting inside, coming to the edge of the box and drawing the opponents out in numbers before drawing a foul, looking for a through pass or going for goal.
Fortunately for the home team, the free-kicks were mostly harmless for a focused Schmeichel in their goal. Denmark had a few set-pieces from promising positions too, but Eriksen, very often lethal from range for Tottenham Hotspur, seemed like he had forgotten his shooting boots. Ochoa in the Mexico goal was equally focused and dealt with everything that came his way without problems.
And for all the dynamism, there were no clear-cut chances – and no goals.
The Second Half
Both teams entered the second period a bit more cautiously and the flow of the game looked a lot slower than before. The players took their time on the ball; off the ball they were reluctant to leave their default positions on the pitch.
But slowly, Mexico shifted the balance towards the Denmark goal. They kept the ball for longer spells at that point and their attacks looked more coordinated, like an actual pattern to their game existed.
And just as their foothold in the contest looked strong, Denmark exploded into life. With around 70 minutes gone, they launched a quick attack which ended with Poulsen firing from the edge of the box straight into the far top corner. Ochoa flew through the air but there was nothing he could do, and Denmark took the lead against the play.
Just three minutes later they struck again. A long throw-in from near the middle of the pitch caught the Mexico defence napping, and Eriksen ran in behind and blasted the ball past Ochoa and into the net.
It was game-over, more or less. The Mexicans were shell-shocked, their frustration starting to show, and the Danes took full control. The visitors did, however, create one good chance late on, the best they had all game. Corona whipped in a cross aiming for the run of substitute Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez who tried to direct it past Schmeichel, but his effort hit the post and he failed to control the rebound.
Overall, Denmark were the better team and deservedly won the game, and Mexico, even though their players have notable quality, still have a lot of work to do to gel properly, at least based on this particular game. The problem is, there isn’t much time as the World Cup starts next week.
DENMARK: Schmeichel, Dalsgaard, Kjaer, Christensen, Larsen, Eriksen (90′ Krohn-Dehli), Kvist (62′ Lerager), Delaney (62′ Schoene), Poulsen (82′ Fischer), Sisto (46′ Braithwaite), Joergensen (46′ Dolberg).
MEXICO: Ochoa, Salcedo, Castro, Moreno (46′ Alvarez), Gallardo, Herrera (46′ Marques), G. dos Santos (57′ Lozano), J. dos Santos (60′ Layun), Guadrado (46′ Fabian), Corona, Peralta (60′ Hernandez).
GOALS: Poulsen 71′, Eriksen 74.
YELLOW CARDS: Layun 69′.
RED CARDS: None.
REFEREE: Kai Erik Steen (Norway).
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