Danish feel invincible ahead of Socceroos clash, says Lorentzen

Former Denmark international Kasper Lorentzen believes the confidence levels of the national team are so high at this FIFA World Cup that the players feel they “can’t lose”, regardless of the opponent.


Denmark's Yussuf Poulsen (C) celebrates a goal with his teammates Source: AAP

The Socceroos will face up to Denmark in their second Group C match of this World Cup in Samara, where both teams could have their destiny decided.

The Danes need a win to seal their place in the second round and if that result is followed by a victory for France against Peru – both results that are expected by critics – then the Australia-Peru match in Sochi will be a dead rubber.

Speaking to The World Game, Lorentzen said he didn’t feel that Denmark played especially well during their 1-0 victory over Peru on Sunday (AEST) but that the players’ self-belief carried them to victory.

“When they were playing bad they still believed they could win. Now it's 16 games unbeaten and the whole 2018 has seen no goals conceded and Kasper Schmeichel is getting more and more confident,” he said.

“It was a lucky win but I can see that they have this feeling that they can't lose. Played 10 times, they would have lost that match 8 or 9 games. But this group is made of something different.

“They just have this incredible belief in themselves right now. They are really well organised and they have the feeling that nobody can score against them. The best thing about the Danish team is the defence, because we know even if we play bad, we are hard to score against.”

However, Lorentzen was critical of Christian Eriksen, the brilliant Tottenham midfielder who couldn’t quite dominate the match against Peru as many expected.

“This was the worst game for him under Age Hareide. I think he scored something like 16 goals in 22 games and he made Christian Eriksen such a dominant player for the national team,” Lorentzen said.

“He's not a strong player, he's a fast, quick-thinking player who can act before anyone does. The Peruvian players are fast and created such a high tempo that he got caught in that. He couldn’t settle into his preferred rhythm.

“When the ball isn't passed to him how he likes, he becomes a normal player who can have a bad game. It was something that affected the whole team, to be honest.”

The ex-Brondby midfielder said he noted that France were playing at a much lower tempo than expected against Australia, which he attributed to the stifling tactics employed by the Socceroos.

“France were playing slow and of course, the Australian strategy was a big reason for this. They really worked out France's best qualities and how to make it difficult for them,” he said.

“We always viewed Australia as the easiest team in the group – and, of course, they were seeded as fourth – but we definitely need to have more respect after that performance because it was such a well-organised performance.”

Having extensively researched the Socceroos in his role as a media analyst for TV2, Lorentzen identified Aaron Mooy and Mathew Leckie as Australia’s critical players Denmark needs to stop.

“Mooy was so good for Huddersfield all season and Leckie surprised me with his amazing speed and how he always challenges the opponent,” he said.

“He's a really key player because he can set up the strikers, like he did in the World Cup qualifiers.

“I've also been impressed by Mile Jedinak and Tom Rogic. I know Rogic didn’t have much of an impact against France but it's interesting to see this tall guy playing in an offensive role and having the skills he has. I’m sure he is capable of causing problems for us.”

While Lorentzen believes Denmark have sufficient quality to get the three points against Australia, he believes Australia could grab a point – or better – if they can exploit the Danish wing-backs.

“Maybe the weakest spot is out wide in defence. It's not because they're bad players - they're good players – but they don't play at the highest level,” he said.

“Henrik Dalsgaard plays in the Championship, and while he can make good crosses and has great speed, the World Cup is a different level. Jens Stryger Larsen is also fast but he's a right-footer on the left side, which is not good.”

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4 min read
Published 18 June 2018 at 7:16pm
By Sebastian Hassett