Verdict: Denmark win
Best Odds: 4/11
Hoping to get their Group H adventure off to a flying start on Thursday night, Denmark will welcome Finland to Copenhagen.
Starting with the hosts, suffering a World Cup nightmare out in Qatar over the winter, Denmark open their Europan qualifying campaign seeking a much-needed boost. Eventually failing to punch their knockout stage ticket in the Middle East and claiming just a single point from their three Group D appearances, Kasper Hjulmand’s men have shown a string of issues over the past nine months. Signing off their woeful World Cup adventure with a 1-0 loss at the hands of Australia, the Danes have won just a pair of their last seven matchups across all competitions – a run that stems back to June 6th. Likewise, missing out on the chance to secure a Nations League semi-final spot last year thanks to another 1-0 defeat at home against Croatia, Denmark will be desperate to get 2023 underway with a statement in Copenhagen.
Mustering eight La Liga strikes this season, Espanyol striker Martin Braithwaite should lead Denmark’s attack on Thursday night. 30-year-old Andreas Cornelius has not been included in Hjulmand’s squad after Denmark’s World Cup issues over the winter.
Tottenham’s Pierre-Emile Hojberg could be joined in midfield by fellow Premier League star Christian Nørgaard. However, picking up a long-term injury issue back in September, Manchester United ace Christian Eriksen will not feature this month.
As for the visitors, although Finland might have claimed a welcomed 2-0 victory away at Montenegro last year, it appears that was just a minor boost for the Scandinavian strugglers. Failing to book their World Cup ticket over the winter, Markku Kanerva’s men also opened 2023 with a pair of downbeat displays. Including a worrying 1-0 loss at home against Estonia on January 12th, the Eagles-owls have recorded just a single win from any of their last eight appearances across all competitions. Although Finland might be tipped as a landside underdog when they make the trip to Copenhagen on Thursday night, Kanerva’s side should be boosted by their most recent meeting against the Danes. Picking up a shock 1-0 victory when they traveled to Denmark on European qualifying duties back in June 2021, the midweek guests will be desperate for a repeat display here.
Rangers midfielder Glen Kamara has been handed a recall to Kanerva’s squad this month. However, picking up a knock last month, Schalke defender Jere Uronen will miss out here.
Although Norwich striker Teemu Pukki might have entered the international break in the midst of an eight-match run without a goal, the 32-year-old should lead Finland’s attack on Thursday night.
Key Factors to Consider
- When the two Scandinavian rivals last met back in June 2021, Finland picked up a shock 1-0 victory on foreign soil.
- However, Thursday’s guests have recorded just a single win from any of their last eight appearances across all competitions.
- Likewise, including their nightmare World Cup run over the winter, Denmark have recorded just a pair of wins from their last seven attempts.
- Nevertheless, the Danes have lost just one of their last 15 European qualifiers on home soil – a run that stems all the way back to October 2007.
- Finland have recorded just a single victory on foreign soil from their last six appearances across all competitions.
Although Denmark might have endured a rather public struggle out in Qatar over the winter, Thursday’s hosts should be smelling the chance to make an early qualifying statement here. While Finland might have claimed a famous 1-0 victory when they traveled to Copenhagen back in June 2021, the Eagles-owls will know that they face a tough test here. With the Danes remarkably losing just one of their last 15 qualifying showdowns on home soil, Hjulmand’s men will be desperate to avoid a potential banana skin here. Looking to make an early Group H statement, we are backing a home victory on Thursday night.
Verdict: Denmark win
Best Odds: 4/11
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