Aussie spy McGrath tips Socceroos to shock Denmark

Australian striker Brent McGrath has called Denmark home for the best part of 12 years - and is backing the Socceroos to upset the Danes in Thursday’s vital World Cup collision in Samara.

Brent McGrath

Brent McGrath of Esbjerg fB Source: FrontzoneSport

Intimately familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of Danish Dynamite, McGrath has played with against a swathe of the squad they took to Russia.

And the powerful forward, who has a solitary Socceroos cap, believes his countrymen have nothing to fear in what has become a virtual must-win game for Bert van Marwijk’s men with Denmark on three points after beating Peru 1-0, and Australia with zero following their 2-1 loss to France.

Currently with his third Danish club, Superliga side Esbjerg, McGrath, 26, even shared a home with Denmark’s first choice left-back Jens Stryger Larsen for nearly three years during their time together at Brøndby. and he knows every nook and cranny of the Danish game.

At varying stages during his Danish odyssey he has also been a teammate of Denmark’s Chelsea-based stopper Andreas Christensen, Borussia Monchengladbach defender Jannik Vestergaard and Feyenoord striker Nicolai Jorgensen.

Brent McGrath

He’s also faced the likes of star playmaker Christian Eriksen at youth level and Werder Bremen’s Thomas Delaney, when the midfielder was starting out at Copenhagen.

“They have big players in big leagues - but we all know Australia play with their heart, and I think we have a very good team that’s young and hungry,” said McGrath.

“I think it will be a good game, a tough game and Australia will get the win.

“We can surpass them on the physical side of things and we have the pace to worry them.

“If we can close them down and get on Eriksen and don’t let him do what he’s good at then they might struggle.

“At the same time we’ll need to get Aaron Mooy on the ball along with Tom Rogic. If we manage that we will give them problems.”

McGrath subscribes to the theory that if you stop Eriksen, you also halt Denmark in their tracks.

Not surprising since he’s scored 12 goals in their last 14 games during an unbeaten run stretching to 16.

“He’s a world-class player and he’s proved that over the years with Tottenham and also with this country,” he said.

“He didn’t play as well as he normally does against Peru, and if you shut him down the creativity will be minimal.

“Everything runs through him, and the Danes have basically built the national team around him.

“When he’s on the ball he directs everything and if you can curb his influence then Denmark’s effectiveness is far less.”

While Denmark were far from convincing against Peru, McGrath doesn’t believe that should not be taken as an omen on how they will perform against Australia.

“Look, that was there opening game and things like nerves come into play,” he added.

“The second game everything is more settled there are things to prove and I think you’ll see an all-around better game from both Denmark and Australia this time around.

“Denmark won’t under-estimate Australia, they know about players like Mooy and Rogic and they’ll give us respect and try and close us down.

“They are a team that’s all about possession and good football. Their centre-backs are light on their feet and good on the ball.

“There’s a difference though in that with Australians, if you play a bad game and win you’re still happy.

“That’s not really the case with them. They always want to play attractive football and also get a result. But I think against us they will be cautious because they have three points on the board and it’s not a life and death game.

“If we can grind out a 1-0 victory not playing well we will take that, especially against Denmark.

“We’ll definitely create chances, especially in dead-ball situations, and I can see Australia winning 2-0.”

Brent McGrath

Though uncapped since 2011, McGrath still harbors hopes of forcing his way back in at some stage.

“My ltimate goal is to get back into the national team,” he said.

“I need a good season, maybe a couple of good seasons, and as is always the way with strikers you get judged on goals.

“All I can do is continue doing what I’m doing, working hard and scoring goals and I believe that at some stage the call may come again.

“It was a boyhood dream to play in Europe and I’ve been here for 12 years.

“I’m living the childhood dream and the next step for me is to get back into the national team.”

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5 min read
Published 19 June 2018 at 4:56pm
By Dave Lewis in Kazan