Denmark World Cup Preview & Analysis: Schedule, Roster & Projections

Denmark World Cup Preview & Analysis: Schedule, Roster & Projections article feature image

Pictured: Christian Eriksen.

  • Denmark come into the World Cup on the back of a special European Championships run.
  • How will the Danes fare in Qatar?
  • Read on for a full preview of the squad.

The 2022 FIFA World Cup has arrived, and Action Network's staff of soccer experts are here to take you through each and every team that will be participating. 

Read on for a full breakdown of Denmark ahead of the tournament, and click here for analysis on each of the other 31 teams.

Denmark World Cup Preview

Once you get past the tournament favorites and traditional powerhouses of world football, Denmark have a case as the next-best team in the World Cup tournament field. Their run to the semifinal in the Euros last summer was no fluke. Denmark lost to Finland in the first match under extraordinary circumstances following the on-field collapse of captain Christian Eriksen, but they dominated Belgium for large stretches of that match in a 2-1 defeat. Denmark then dominated three lesser sides – Russia, Wales and the Czech Republic – before an extra time loss to England in the semifinal. 

There’s not a ton of top-end talent in this Denmark side, but there aren’t many holes, either. They have three center backs that play at top clubs in Europe with Simon Kjaer, Joachim Andersen and Andreas Christensen all excelling with the ball at their feet and playing through pressure to progress the ball up the pitch. Good passing structures are the feature of this Denmark team under manager Kasper Hjulmand. Thomas Delaney and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg are the two holding midfielders, with Hojbjerg taking on a more progressive passing role for Denmark than he does for Spurs.

Joakim Maehle had his international breakout at the Euros as the three at the back system enabled him to get forward often and create chances through crossing. His creativity helps to make up for the lack of game-changing attacking talent. Mikkel Damsgaard and Eriksen are two excellent playmakers who don’t do a ton of pressing or defensive work. 

Chances To…Action Projectionsbet365 Odds
Win Group Stage35.93%+275
Advance To Knockout Round83.98%-300
Win World Cup4.64%+2800
Odds as of publish. Action projections by Nick Giffen of the Action Predictive Analytics team.

The biggest question mark for Denmark at this World Cup is what they do at striker. Jonas Wind, Martin Braithwaite and Kasper Dolberg are the three best forward options. The attack was at its best with Dolberg in the Euros, but he has produced next to nothing at Sevilla this season in more than 400 minutes. Wind isn’t getting regular minutes at Wolfsburg, either. On form alone, the answer at striker would seem to be Braithwaite, who is playing regular minutes and producing solid shot, xG and goal numbers at Espanyol this season.

Another reason for optimism: Denmark’s pressing style has really caused problems for multiple top European teams in the last couple years. Denmark beat France twice in the Nations League this summer, and while you can call into question the motivation for Les Bleus in that match, the Danes also dominated Belgium at the Euros last summer. They won the xG battle 1.7-0.9 and outshot the Belgians 17-6 in the match. 

Denmark rolled through qualifying and were the first team in Europe to clinch qualification through the group stage first round. They didn’t have a particularly difficult group with Scotland and Austria, but through the first eight matches of qualifying, they had eight wins from eight and had scored 27 goals whilst not conceding any. 

The Danes didn’t get a particularly difficult group to advance from, and they’ll certainly feel good about their chances against France in the second match of the group. If Denmark finish second in the group, Argentina likely looms in the Round of 16. However, the Danes are certainly live to win this group with one good result against France. That could open the door for a favorable path to the quarterfinals and beyond.

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Key Player: Christian Eriksen

Denmark have one game-changing attacking talent, and it’s Eriksen. He played less than a half of Euro 2020 after collapsing on the field and the Danes still produced 10 xG in six matches without him. He’s nearing the end of his career at the top of European football, but his role on set pieces and pulling the strings for a group of forwards that generally are underwhelming is a major key for Denmark.

I don’t expect Eriksen to be playing a full 90 minutes often anymore because of his age and lack of pressing ability, but he’s clearly a spark and the best passer on this team. Eriksen averaged more than five progressive passes and 4.5 shot-creating actions per 90 minutes in the PL last year, which puts him in the top 10% among players in Europe’s big five leagues. 

He’s also adding about two shots per match and is in the top fifth percentile in xAssists per match. Erik ten Hag has found a role for him at United that gets the best out of him, and he enters this World Cup in excellent form.

The Danes will look to get him on the ball as much as possible and the more he’s on it, the more dangerous this attack becomes.

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Tactical Analysis

International football isn’t normally defined by organization out of possession and the tactical prowess of the sides. The teams don’t play that much together, and it’s hard to have a well drilled and well organized side. 

Despite that, Denmark are one of the best out of possession teams in the entire tournament. They are extremely well organized without the ball and are one of the best teams at winning the ball back. Denmark grade out really well from a ball recovery and passes per defensive action perspective. 

They can alternate between a 3-4-3 and 4-3-3 formation, depending on how Hjulmand wants to gain midfield control. In the first few minutes against Wales at Euro 2021, Denmark came out in a three at the back formation, and it wasn’t working. He tactically adjusted and pushed Christensen into the midfield to help bolster that group. It basically became a back four from there. I’d expect a 4-3-3 is more likely at this World Cup, with Maehle and Rasmus Kristensen as the full backs. Kristensen is able to get forward, but he’s more conservative in this role than Maehle.

Denmark’s attack is centered around two players: Maehle and Eriksen. Denmark love conservative possession of the ball and prioritize ball retention when possible. It’s a bit Graham Potter-esque from his days at Brighton that the ball will continue to be recycled until it can get Maehle in an advanced wide area for a cross. That also means that Denmark can struggle to sustain pressure in the attacking third, because any real forward thrust is where possession is often lost before a shot is produced.

The lack of elite attacking talent also means that the Danes need to excel on set pieces. That’s where Eriksen comes into the picture. Denmark scored one goal from a set piece in each of their knockout stage matches at the Euros.

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Denmark World Cup Schedule

Tunisia8 a.m. ET, Nov. 22
France11 a.m. ET, Nov. 26
Australia10 a.m. ET, Nov. 30

Most Recent World Cup Result

Round of 16 (2018)

Denmark did not lose a single game in regulation at the 2018 World Cup, beating Peru and drawing Australia/France in the group stage. The Danes then drew 1-1 with Croatia in the Round of 16 before falling on penalty kicks.

Denmark World Cup Roster

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