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In-form Danish side eye top spot for Euros


Age Hareide. Photo: Sportsfile

Age Hareide. Photo: Sportsfile

Age Hareide. Photo: Sportsfile

The glimmer of hope for the Ireland camp ahead of next month's meeting with Denmark is that it's being billed as a cup final on home soil.

The only problem with that logic is that Denmark are used to playing in cup finals, and winning them.

And the recent form of the Danes, bar the odd blip such as their scoreless draw in Tbilisi, is enough to send a chill into Irish bones.

They are a side on form for some time, unbeaten in 23 consecutive competitive matches under Age Hareide (they did lose to Croatia at the World Cup but on penalties so the record books count that as a draw), and have not conceded a goal in the last four.

No wonder manager Hareide is bullish ahead of the games next month, the Norwegian native confident of getting the win at home to Gibraltar before their trip to Dublin.

"We got at full throttle now for the Gibraltar game," he says, the Danish camp on a high following a 4-0 win at home to Luxembourg on Tuesday.

"If we win that and top the group before we play in Ireland, that will put pressure on the Irish, being top of the group is important when it comes to the seeding for the Euros."

There have been testing times for the Danes, though. We had that bitter and public dispute between the squad and their FA over image rights and other issues which forced them to field what was effectively an amateur side for a friendly against Slovakia.

And the knives were out for Hareide only two months ago when Denmark could 'only' draw 0-0 in Georgia. Hareide was unable to travel to Tbilisi due to a knee operation, and his decision to allow his assistant, Jon Dal Tomasson.

The Danish media sniffed that this was sending a boy to do a man's job but Hareide (66) is now back at the helm, boosted by that friendly win where, despite making six changes and fielding a weakened side, Denmark still romped home against Luxembourg, Kasper Dolberg the star with two goals and an assist.