Tuesday 20 February 2018

'I don't have the patience to play like Ireland' - Danish boss says his team will attack in Dublin

Christian Eriksen and Kasper Schmeichel, left, during Denmark squad training at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Christian Eriksen and Kasper Schmeichel, left, during Denmark squad training at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Age Hareide has a lot of time for his former landlord and team-mate but when it comes to Martin O'Neill's style of football, the Denmark manager is less keen.

The 64-year-old Norwegian played with O'Neill at Manchester City and Norwich, where he also rented a house from him, and since going their separate ways, Hareide is adamant that their managerial philosophies are poles apart.

With Ireland playing at home in this evening's defining play-off second leg, the Danes would be forgiven for assuming that the hosts will take the game to them but in Hareide's eyes, he has O'Neill sussed.

"No, if you look at the stats from the qualification, nothing seems to go in that direction," he insisted.

"They play better away from home and score more goals away from home. I saw the game they played against Serbia, they lost 1-0 at home. Against Wales they drew 0-0, they won in Wales 1-0 and at the beginning of the qualification they drew in Serbia 2-2.

"They were the key matches in qualification, and I think they will play the same way (tonight).

"I don't expect them to go higher than they did in Copenhagen. They just want us to make a mistake.

"That's OK but I haven't got the patience to play like that. We will just try to attack Ireland, score a goal and take it from there."

The confidence emanating from the Danish camp last night was remarkable. They hold absolutely no fears who playing at Dublin and why should they?

Ireland have fared better on the road throughout the qualifying campaign and there has been little evidence to suggest that O'Neill will instruct his team to get after Denmark tonight.

Hours after O'Neill openly discussed how his squad had practised penalties yesterday, Hareide wasn't even entertaining the possibility of a shoot-out.

"I am both superstitious and we don't need them.

"On Saturday, we made 587 passes, which is 85pc (completion) to the Danish shirt. Ireland made 206 passes, that's down to 60pc. We have to expect the same here, we will come out and try to create chances to win.

There are more players in our group used to playing two tight matches in a week, including in the Champions League. Our players are used to that and it's also a case of mentality. If it goes into extra-time, I think we have the squad of players to deal with it.

"They're very good at defending, they keep the midfield very, very tight. They don't increase the space - they make it as narrow as possible. They're good at that, that's part of the game.

"All credit to Ireland for that, but when we have ball possession 70-80pc. That's our game, we have to work on that and take the game to Ireland, and try to get it through on the flanks or through the centre.

"There are different passes and different angles we can set up, get more people in front of the ball and that will make us more dangerous.

"We had the opportunities to score in Copenhagen and I'm sure we will have them again."

Not only does Hareide believe that his side will not need a penalty shootout to prevail, he also insists that one goal will be enough to seal Denmark's passage to next summer's World Cup.

"We know that even if they score first, one goal will get us there. It's a fantastic opportunity that we don't have to win to go to the World Cup and we have to take that."

David Meyler's claims that Ireland have more heart and desire than the Danes was also quickly rebuked, this time by central defender Andreas Bjelland, who is happy to fight fire with fire, if it comes to it.

"Right now we are talking about a game that takes us to the World Cup so of course we have that fight and mentality," the Brentford player warned.

"Sure, we can fight with them if they want to fight, we will take that up but that's not our game-plan. We want to get the ball down, play it on the floor, move them around and hopefully score."

The mind games are in full flow but in truth, it was difficult to argue with any of the Danes' assessments of Ireland.

But for all his talk of O'Neill's defensive mindset, Hareide is aware that poses difficulties for his side, as it did in Copenhagen.

"I think with Martin, he finds a way," he added.

"I know Martin as an attacking outside right at Nottingham Forest, and centre midfield when I played with him. He wanted to see a lot of the ball and play all the time. Celtic, he did play attacking but that was more or less because the other teams are not the same level in Scotland.

"I think he found his way with Ireland. It's very funny because these are different philosophies.

"Martin experienced good qualification last time in the European Championships. They played France and played well. He will stick to that task and that way of playing.

"He is a good manager and he wants to win. So do I."

Irish Independent

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