Wednesday 22 November 2017

Who is on the TV panels, a worrying referee choice and everything else you need to know about Denmark v Ireland

10 November 2017; Shane Duffy during Republic of Ireland squad training at Parken Stadium in Copenhagen, Denmark. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
10 November 2017; Shane Duffy during Republic of Ireland squad training at Parken Stadium in Copenhagen, Denmark. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Denmark will take on the Republic of Ireland in a World Cup play-off in Copenhagen on Saturday, with the nation set to grind to a halt as we look to qualify for the sport’s biggest tournament for the first time since 2002.

A sell-out crowd will be in attendance as the Danes aim to build on their recent momentum by securing a passage to Russia 2018.

TALE OF THE TAPE

Denmark are 19th in the FIFA rankings, seven places above Ireland and they are looking to qualify for their first World Cup since progressing to the 2010 finals in South Africa.

The Danes best run at a World Cup came in 1998, when they made it through to the quarter-finals in France, losing 3-2 to eventual finalists Brazil.

Ireland’s best run at a World Cup is also a quarter-final appearance, with Jack Charlton’s side reaching the last eight at Italia 90, before losing 1-0 to the host nation in Rome.

Denmark have lost just one of their last eight home matches, but they come up against an Ireland side that have shown good form on their travels of late, with wins in Austria and Wales securing second spot in World Cup qualifying Group D.

WHERE IS THE MATCH BEING PLAYED

Opened in 1992, Parken Stadium boasts a retractable roof and a capacity of 38,065.

One of numerous host stadiums for Euro 2020, it was the host venue for the 2001 Eurovision Song Contest and has played host to U2 and Coldplay concerts in recent years.

THE REFEREE

Ten Ireland players head into the game against Denmark one booking away from missing the second leg in Dublin on Tuesday and they will run the gauntlet under the supervision of experienced Serbian referee Milorad Mazic.

Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane clashed with this referee during the 1-0 Euro 2016 qualifying defeat against Scotland in Glasgow and unfortunately, he has a reputation for being a fussy, card-happy official.

After his own football ambitions were cut short by injury, he turned to refereeing and was voted as the worst referee on show at the 2014 World Cup finals after making some controversial decisions.

WHERE TO WATCH

RTÉ2 host Darragh Maloney will be joined by Damien Duff, Liam Brady and Eamon Dunphy from 7:25pm, while Sky Sports in the UK will have former Ireland striker Kevin Doyle among their panel for coverage that begins at 7.30pm. Kick-off is at 7.45pm.

WHAT DO THE BOOKIES SAY?

Denmark are 3/4 with Paddy Power to win the first leg in Copenhagen, with Ireland rated as 5/1 shots. The draw is listed at 9/4.

Shane Long is favourite to score the first Ireland goal at 7/1, as he looks to end a scoring drought that dates back to last February.

WHAT THEY SAY - Ireland defender Shane Duffy

“People were saying we got lucky when we were drawn against Denmark, but I disagree. This is a tough draw. Maybe we didn’t want to get Italy as they are a big nation with a lot of history in the World Cup, but I have spoken to a few of the Ireland players since the draw and we all think this is a tough draw.

“Rather than worry about who we are playing, the big thing for me is that we have the second match in Dublin. That could be massive for us if we do what we need to do in the first leg. We have a good record at home and Denmark will not enjoy playing us there if the game is really tight.”

Denmark midfielder Christian Eriksen

“We’ll go out and do our thing. If they put people behind the ball, like in previous games, we’ll need to play quick and open up the game.

“If you have a team that wants to play and one that doesn’t, the game may be dragged out. 0-0 is probably a good result for them. We want to score and create chances. We’ll probably get fewer chances than in other games.”

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