Best Odds: 5/2
Denmark were pretty fortunate to defeat Peru in their opening game, but they, nonetheless, now have a chance to secure a place in the next stage with another triumph. Buoyed by the promising performance against star-studded France, Australia aim to keep their qualifying hopes alive with a positive result in Thursday’s game.
Denmark arrived in Russia in good spirits as they continued with promising performances after the 5-1 hammering of Republic of Ireland in the play-offs, and Age Hareide’s side showed incredible defensive stability in warm-up games. The Danes recorded two wins (Panama, Mexico) and as many draws (Chile, Sweden), keeping a clean sheet in each of those games, so rock-solid defence was always going to be one of their traits at the 2018 World Cup.
In all fairness, Denmark were outclassed by Peru in their opening fixture in Russia, but the back line again held on, allowing Yussuf Poulsen to score the winner from one of the team’s rare dangerous attacks. Even though they secured an important victory in the opener, the Danes will have to do a lot better if they want to edge closer to the place in the knockout stage, as things would have been different now had Christian Cueva scored from the penalty spot just before half-time.
Important defender Andreas Christensen is expected to recover in time, but midfielder William Kvist is missing through injury.
Despite making a mess of their qualifying campaign, Australia managed to book a ticket to Russia thanks to play off wins over Syria (3-2 agg) and Honduras (3-1 agg). The Socceroos did not impress in the first two warm-up games, suffering a 4-1 loss to Norway before sharing spoils with Colombia, but back to back wins over Czech Republic (4-0) and Hungary (2-1) in June seriously improved the players’ spirits ahead of the tournament finals in Russia.
That was all too evident in the opening fixture against mighty France as Australia held their own for much of the game and were unfortunate to lose the game thanks to a late own goal. Nothing is lost yet as the Socceroos can make a giant step towards the next stage by defeating Denmark in Samara, and we are likely to see some changes to the side that lost to Les Bleus.
Tomi Juric is expected to come in for Andrew Nabbout, while Iranian-born youngster Daniel Arzani will be hoping to make another substitute appearance.
Key Factors to Consider
- Denmark kept five clean sheets in a row
- Under 1.5 goals were scored in four of Denmark’s last five fixtures
- Australia lost all three games at the 2014 World Cup
- Christian Eriksen managed 12 goals and 5 assists in last 14 Denmark caps
- Denmark have two wins in last three meetings with Australia (L1)
Denmark definitely have more potential than they are showing, but with their back line working like a charm, we don’t think they will lose this game. Australia have also showed some potential in their opening fixture and we predict the match will end in a stalemate.
Best Odds: 5/2
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