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UEFA Nations League, Tuesday, 7:45pm
International football isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, and if you were unfortunate enough to watch England’s 1-0 win over Iceland on Saturday evening, you’ll understand why.
It was a terrible game, which only livened up during injury time. Raheem Sterling scored a penalty to put England in front, before Birkir Bjarnason channelled his inner Chris Waddle and blasted a spot kick over the bar to spare Gareth Southgate’s blushes.
The match must’ve made viewers feel like Andy Dufresne tunnelling out of Shawshank prison. It was worth it in the end, but there was a ton of bad stuff to wade through first.
Anyway, a win is a win and the Three Lions head to wonderful Copenhagen on Tuesday night to play the Danes. Kasper Hjulmand’s first match in charge saw his side host Belgium on Saturday night, and despite the visitors resting the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard, they won 2-0 without too much fuss.
Denmark’s form is hard to get a read on with a view to this match. They had won their previous four home games, with score lines including 6-0, 5-1 and 4-0. But as the opposition for those three matches was Gibraltar, Georgia and Luxembourg, even an out-of-sorts England should provide them with a sterner test.
After all, Belgium and England are joint-second in the outright betting for the Nations League, behind France, so should we expect another 2-0 away win?
Quite possibly. These teams haven’t met too often over the years, but England won their most recent clash (1-0 at Wembley in 2014), the previous match in Denmark (2-1 in 2011) and their last competitive meeting (3-0 way back at the 2002 World Cup).
And with the Danes rarely netting more than once at home against teams at the right end of the world rankings, England should be able to beat the -1 handicap and make it two wins out of two before their home game with Belgium next month.
England might need three goals in order to win by two, and while there isn’t any particular recent history between themselves and Denmark, the two countries seem to bring the goals out of each other for some reason.
A game at Old Trafford in 2003 had paid out on over 2.5 goals after just nine minutes had been played. It ended 3-2, and the meeting after that featured five goals too. Plus I’m sure I don’t need to remind you about England’s 4-3 win in Copenhagen in September 1978, do I?
While England’s struggles in Iceland might suggest they won’t score many, the home side in this match won’t pack their own box to the same extent which should help Southgate’s side to create a few chances. Denmark will also offer more going forward so it should be a goal-heavy game.
Harry Kane had scored in his previous six internationals prior to Saturday’s match in Reykjavík. He thought he’d opened the scoring there too, but his early effort was ruled out for offside.
Replays suggested the goal should’ve stood, but there was no VAR for the game. England fans who hate the technology must’ve felt terribly conflicted.
It was also amusing to see Kane barely celebrate the ‘goal’ but get very worked up once he realised it had been disallowed.
But then he did once swear on his daughter’s life that he’d scored a goal when he barely touched the ball, so he takes such matters very seriously. And whose goal did he take? Denmark’s Christian Eriksen. All the pieces matter.
Even accounting for his blank in the world’s northernmost capital city (and save that nugget for your next pub quiz back in the normal world) Kane has scored seven goals in his last nine matches for club and country. He’s due an opener for England so hopefully, it arrives here.