Christian Eriksen is the standout World Cup Fantasy asset in Denmark’s ranks as they compete to get out of Group C.
The Scandinavians are heavily reliant on the Tottenham Hotspur man for their goals and assists, making him a prime candidate for Fantasy investment.
We’ve got everything you need to know about Denmark.
ROAD TO QUALIFICATION
It took some time for Denmark to find top gear in qualifying but the manner in which they finalised passage to Russia was truly devastating.
Coach Age Hareide now has the ‘Danish Dynamite’ capable of playing a direct attacking style of football shown best by the 4-0 thrashing of Poland last September and a 5-1 win over Republic of Ireland in the play-offs.
Denmark’s first five games in UEFA qualifying Group E left a lot to be desired, though. In that run they lost to Poland and relative newcomers Montenegro before drawing with Romania.
There are some detractors who claim Hareide’s side is still capable of such unconvincing performances. All involved in the national set-up will be working towards replicating the heights of the second half of their qualification campaign in Russia.
Denmark were undefeated in the final five matches of Group E averaging 2.6 goals per game. After a 0-0 draw at home against Republic of Ireland in the play-offs, they turned on the style to record a crushing 5-1 victory in Dublin.
The emphatic nature of their form over that period has generated optimism among the fans that Denmark can make it to the quarter-finals of the World Cup. A lot of that will depend on the performance and fitness of their key players, who are the secret to the team’s success.
Either way, they will be an exciting prospect to watch even for the neutrals.
These are some telling words from coach Hareide: “At the last European Championship a lot of teams defended deep and then tried to launch a counter-attack. I don’t have the patience for that. I want to go forward as quickly as possible. Other teams can defend, Denmark wants to attack.”
Most starts: Christian Eriksen, Simon Kjaer (both 12), William Kvist (11), Thomas Delaney (10), Kasper Schmeichel (9).
Most goals: Eriksen (11), Delaney (4), Nicolai Jorgensen, Andreas Cornelius (both 2).
Most assists: Yussuf Poulsen (4), Eriksen (3), Jorgensen, Cornelius, Pione Sisto, Henrik Dalsgaard (all 2).
THE KEY TARGETS
Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Christian Eriksen (£9.0m on McDonald’s FIFA World Cup Fantasy) is in the form of his life for the international team.
The 26-year-old is well-clear at the top of Denmark’s goal involvement chart and is the only member of their squad who can offer consistency of Fantasy returns at the World Cup.
Eleven goals and three assists is nine goal involvements (14) more than the squad’s second best player in that respect; Yussuf Poulsen with five.
Eriksen has been an elite level player for several years at Spurs, involving himself in more than 20 goals per season for the last three campaigns in a row, but it is only in the last 18 months that he has become so influential at international level.
The key development has been coach Hareide’s insistence getting Eriksen on the ball as often as possible and building a team that facilitates that tactic. Denmark’s direct approach and set-piece responsibilities make Eriksen a strong candidate to consider for your team.
At the opposite end of the field, Denmark’s hopes for success also rest on the shoulders of Kasper Schmeichel (£5.0m), 26 years on from his father winning Euro 92.
The Leicester City man is the established name in goal and, like Eriksen, has become a hugely influential figure in Denmark’s squad under Hareide.
With the attacking approach of his team-mates, Schmeichel is likely to have plenty of saves to make, which could benefit managers playing Fantasy games with added bonus points for that action.
In FPL this season only Lukas Fabianski saved more penalties than the Leicester City man too. Despite their style of play, Denmark have still managed clean sheets in seven of their last 14 matches and Schmeichel is the most assured of a start in defence alongside centre-back Simon Kjaer (£5.0m).
THE LONG SHOTS
The aforementioned Yussuf Poulsen (£6.5m) has to be looked at as an interesting budget option in attack, although he is not known for his goals.
Capable of operating either as a winger or a striker, Poulsen is an important link player for Denmark. That’s why he recorded more assists than any of his team-mates during the qualification period. The one negative from a Fantasy perspective for the 23-year-old is his game-time, though. Poulsen started just six of a possible 12 qualifying matches, often a victim of rotation.
In fact, a large bulk of Denmark’s attacking players have fallen foul of Hareide’s preference for making changes from one match to the next. The 64-year-old likes to use different formations depending on the opposition.
Denmark remain very direct in every possible set-up, but personnel and formation can often change.
Eriksen and Kjaer were the only individuals to start every qualifier while just four outfield players started more than eight matches on the road to Russia. That, combined with an over-reliance on Eriksen, is why forward assets such as Nicolai Jorgensen (£8.0m), who recorded two goals and two assists in qualifying, or Pione Sisto (£6.5m) are risky Fantasy selections.
Rotation is also a risk at the back as Andreas Christensen (£5.0m) and Mathias “Zanka” Jorgensen (£5.0m) compete for a centre-back berth alongside Kjaer.
The Chelsea man is the more established name with two more caps to his name (14) than the Huddersfield defender (12) although neither featured in recent friendlies. Each of them offers appeal at different ends of the pitch so it’s uncertain which of them will get guaranteed game-time in Russia.
Only Marcos Alonso recorded more shots in opposition penalty boxes (40) than Christensen’s 12 (11 of them headers) among Chelsea defenders this season, made more impressive by the fact that the latter only started 23 matches. On the other hand, Zanka ranked fifth among all defenders FPL’s Clearances, Blocks and Interceptions statistic in 2017/18, with a score of 337.
June 9: Denmark v Mexico
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