Denmark, France battle for top spot

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Denmark-VS-France

France and Denmark will battle for top spot in Group C of the 2018 World Cup when they meet at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on Tuesday, June 26, kick-off at 16h00 CAT.

Denmark took their tally in the group to four points, as they backed up their opening win over Peru with a 1-1 draw against Australia on Thursday. Christian Eriksen put the ‘Danish Dynamite’ ahead, but a VAR-awarded penalty saw the ‘Socceroos’ draw level through Mile Jedinak.

Coach Age Hareide’s team have not been all that impressive thus far, but it’s a sign of their organisation and temperament that they stand on the edge of last 16 qualifications.

Kasper Schmeichel
Kasper Schmeichel

While Eriksen remains their kingpin in terms of playmaking and the ability to unlock a defence, goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel is emerging as their top performer, putting in excellent showings in their first two games. Given the firepower their opponents have in the attacking third, the gloves-man may well be called upon to shine once again.

Kylian Mbappe
Kylian Mbappe

France top Group C on six points and are already safely through to the last 16 thanks to an opening 2-1 win over Australia and a 1-0 victory over Peru on Thursday. Kylian Mbappe scored the decisive goal for ‘Les Bleus’, who were once again underwhelming in the latter game, though they deserve a lot of credit for a solid defensive showing.

Yet coach Didier Deschamps will still want to see more from his big-name stars. Paul Pogba has yet to take a game by the scruff of its neck, Antoine Griezmann was relatively anonymous against Peru and Mbappe, though he netted to become France’s youngest scorer at a World Cup, has not shown the full depth of his ability.

In head-to-head terms, Denmark and France have met in 15 matches, according to FIFA’s statistics database. The ‘Danish Dynamite’ has claimed six wins compared to eight for ‘Les Bleus’, while just one game has ended in a draw.

The teams are level at 1-1 in terms of World Cup matches (both in the group stage) against each other: France beat Denmark 2-1 in 1998, while the next tournament in 2002 saw the Danes take revenge with a 2-0 victory which brought to an end a miserable defence of the title for the French.

The most recent match between the pair was a friendly in Copenhagen in October 2015 which saw ‘Les Bleus’ win 2-1 thanks to a brace from Olivier Giroud.

Denmark vs France - International Friendly COPENHAGEN, DENMARK - OCTOBER 11: Simon Kjar of Denmark holds on to Olivier Giroud of France during the International Friendly match between Denmark and France at Telia Parken Stadium on October 11, 2015 in Copenhagen, Denmark. (Photo by Lars Ronbog / FrontZoneSport via Getty Images)
Denmark vs France – International Friendly
COPENHAGEN, DENMARK – OCTOBER 11: Simon Kjar of Denmark holds on to Olivier Giroud of France during the International Friendly match between Denmark and France at Telia Parken Stadium on October 11, 2015 in Copenhagen, Denmark. (Photo by Lars Ronbog / FrontZoneSport via Getty Images)

Given that a draw would see both teams achieve their aims – qualification to the last 16 for Denmark and top spot in the pool for France – this seems the most likely outcome. The other Group C match takes place simultaneously in Sochi, with Australia needing victory over Peru and a loss for Denmark to have a chance of joining ‘Les Bleus’ in the next round.

Denmark v France – head-to-head

Matches played 15
Denmark wins 6
France wins 8
Draws 1
Denmark goals 37
France goals 20