Denmark has a solid history of progressing through the early rounds of the World Cup but how will it fare in 2010.
How they got here
Denmark secured its place in South Africa by winning one of the toughest qualifying groups in the entire competition. A thrilling 3-2 on the road to Portugal in their second game gave Denmark the advantage in a group where Sweden and Hungary also looked capable of qualifying. Three more quick wins followed while their rivals faltered. A 1-0 victory at Sweden gave Denmark its fifth straight win in the campaign.
Home draws with Albania and Portugal were only brief bumps in the road. With two games to go the talk in Europe was of how Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo could miss out on the World Cup because of Denmark’s dominance. A win at home to Sweden secured victory in the group and inadvertently helped Portugal as well.
Who to watch
This is a team loaded with veteran talent but the most critical player in the Denmark squad has yet to hit the peak of his career. Liverpool’s Daniel Agger will make or break Denmark’s campaign. The 25 year old defender will need to be on top form in the group games to control the attacking threats posed by the Netherlands and Cameroon.
Juvenutus midfielder Christian Poulsen will look to use South Africa as a platform to re-start his career which has suffered since moving to the Italian giants in 2008. Keep an eye on Poulsen’s work-rate in the opening games when looking at World Cup betting. Wolfsburg’s Thomas Kahlenburg is also returning to form and looks likely to feature in the 2010 World Cup. Up front Denmark will lean heavily on veteran Jon-Dahl Tomasson of Feyenoord and Arsenal’s Niklas Bendtner for goals. If Denmark want to make it out of the group stages, this strike partnership needs to work.
How they will perform
Denmark’s past form in the World Cup made them a good choice for savvy bettors. Always under-rated in the group stage, Denmark would be available at a good price with plenty of value while smart bettors would know to jump ship as soon as the knockout rounds get under way. The 2010 incarnation could prove just as appealing. I feel it will be a battle between Denmark and Cameroon for second place in the group. It’s going to go down to the last round of games but the second round of games, where Denmark will face Cameroon, will go a long way towards determining which of these sides progresses to the knockout rounds.