World Cup Preview: Denmark v France

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SAMARA, RUSSIA - JUNE 21: Christian Eriksen of Denmark controls the ball during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group C match between Denmark and Australia at Samara Arena on June 21, 2018 in Samara, Russia. (Photo by Simon Hofmann - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Denmark enter their final Group C game knowing that a point will see them through to the World Cup knockout stages for the first time since 2002.

A draw would also see France confirmed as group winners and see them face a more favourable draw in the last 16. A draw, or Denmark victory, would mean Australia are eliminated regardless of their result against Peru.

Denmark v France

The Danes will be without Youssef Poulsen, who scored the winner in their opening game against Peru after he collected two consecutive bookings. They will also be missing William Kvist, who broke two ribs and punctured a rib in the same game. Martin Braithwaite and Lasse Schöne are expected to replace the absent pair. Christian Eriksen has scored 17 goals in his last 20 international appearances and will be paid the closest attention by the French.

Didier Deschamps is reportedly contemplating resting Paul Pogba and Blaise Matuidi who have both been booked in the opening games, meaning Corentin Tolisso could be recalled. The French are still expected to field a very strong line-up as they look to avoid the impressive Croatia in the last 16, who will top Group D barring a minor miracle. Kylian Mbappe is also expected to start again after scoring the winner against Peru last time out. Getting on the scoresheet will mean that he becomes the first teenager to score in more than one World Cup match since England’s Michael Owen did so in 1998.

Overview

Without playing anywhere near their full potential, Les Bleus have cruised out of Group C and will now be looking to move through the gears towards the business end of the tournament. Pogba and fellow star Antoine Griezemann have only provided the smallest bursts of star quality, while Samuel Umtiti in defence has looked particularly susceptible to pressure.

Avoiding Croatia would represent a job well-done so far for Deschamps and his squad, who would have come into the tournament expecting to face them in the last 16. Argentina’s unexpectedly poor form means that the French could land a dream draw in the form of Nigeria or Iceland if Lionel Messi’s side continue to falter.

This is the third time that these two sides have met in the World Cup finals, with each side winning one fixture each. The last time was the final fixture in the 2002 group stages when Denmark won 2-0 thanks to goals from Dennis Rommedahl and Jon Dahl Tomasson. It resulted in France being sent home without a victory.

That defeat is France’s only loss to the Danes in their last seven meetings. In contrast, Denmark have lost four of their last five World Cup games to fellow European nations.

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I'm a sports journalism graduate currently working in the brand communications sector. I'm a semi-professional footballer in English non-league football and have given most of my life to playing, coaching, watching and analysing the beautiful game from the Premier League to Sunday League. I also follow golf, NFL and horse racing but there's barely a sport on the planet that I haven't observed in one way or another!

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