France put one foot into the knockout phase of the World Cup with a comfortable 4-1 victory over Australia on Tuesday and Les Blues can seal the deal with a follow-up win over Denmark today at Stadium 974.
The Danes’ destiny meanwhile, hangs in the balance following their tense 0-0 draw with Tunisia, however Kasper Hjulmand’s side will still have a final bite of the qualification cherry even if they are turned over by the current world champions this afternoon.
Today’s clash comes laden with all kinds of bet-building potential and below you’ll find the lowdown on shots, xG, cards, corners, fouls and more from the teams’ qualification and opening group matches. Use the data and my Stats Pack Guide before attacking the markets.
Lucas Hernández was withdrawn after just 13 minutes of Tuesday’s game against Australia and will miss the rest of the tournament. His brother Theo will fill in at left-back in his absence.
Didier Deschamps handed starting roles to Dayot Upamecano and Ousmane Dembele against the Socceroos and both players should keep their places in the French XI today.
Battle-hardened midfielder Thomas Delaney was forced off with an injury in the first-half of Denmark’s stalemate with Tunisia and the 31-year-old has since revealed that he will sit out the rest of the World Cup.
Mikkel Damsgaard replaced Delaney on Tuesday and he is a candidate to start today. Andreas Cornelius will be pushing to replace Kasper Dolberg at the tip of the Danish attack after the latter’s struggles against Tunisia.
France were solid performers across a number of attacking metrics during their World Cup qualification campaign and following a dip in the summer in the Nations League, they looked back to their formidable best against Australia.
Les Blues mustered 23 attempts against the Socceroos, with seven of those efforts hitting the target. Only Germany mustered more attempts on matchday one. France also dominated the corner count (8-1) and avoided picking up a card.
Denmark’s strong qualification stats didn’t quite transfer over to their World Cup opener against Tunisia on Monday and it looked as though the favourites tag weighed heavily on the Danes, especially in the first half.
Denmark lodged a modest xG of 1.19 and racked up just 11 attempts against the Tunisians despite enjoying 61.3% of the ball. Tunisia were able to clock 13 shots in response on the counter and Denmark’s vulnerability on the break against pace could hurt them again against France.
Player Shots and Shots on Target
Mbappe posted a defence-shredding 3.68 shots and 2.13 shots on target per 90 minutes in France’s qualification fixtures, though the PSG icon cranked up his output considerably on matchday one in front of the watching world. Mbappe unleashed seven attempts against Australia, all of which came inside the Australian penalty area, though just one of those efforts found its mark.
Another solid qualification performer, Olivier Giroud, had five shots against the Socceroos, while Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele notched three and two respectively from a purring Les Blues frontline. Giroud should have plenty of service again today.
Eight different Danish players managed to have at least one attempt on the Tunisian goal on matchday one, though it’s interesting to note that towering striker Andreas Cornelis (three) was the team’s most prolific source of shots despite playing just 25 minutes at the end.
Mikkel Damsgaard was a consistent threat for the Danes during their qualification campaign, though he couldn’t manufacture a shooting opportunity on Tuesday. Kasper Dolberg got two strikes away, but neither hit the target.
Player Goals and Assists
Antoine Griezmann was the only member of France’s attacking quartet to finish Tuesday’s contest without a goal contribution. Kylian Mbappe scored one and made one, Ousmane Dembele claimed one assist, while Olivier Giroud bagged a brace.
Giroud’s second goal was his 51st for France and he now sits proudly alongside Thierry Henry as Les Blues’ joint-all-time leading scorer. The often-under-rated 36-year-old should be in confident mood against Denmark after his achievement. Midfielder Adrien Rabiot also joined the party when he produced a goal and assist inside five frenetic first-half minutes.
Denmark drew a blank in the final third against Tunisia and bar a few half chances, they created little in the way of clear-cut opportunities against their dogged opponents.
Andreas Skov Olsen played with real menace during the Danes’ qualifiers when he registered eight goal contributions (5G, 3A) in 11 appearances, though the 22-year-old looked nervous on his World Cup debut and was replaced shortly after the hour mark.
France’s disciplinary record was near spotless during their qualification campaign and Les Blues gave away fewer fouls than any other team (five) on matchday one of the World Cup.
Adrien Rabiot committed two of those fouls and the 27-year-old seems the likeliest to be on the official’s radar in midfield. Dayot Upamecano, who made four tackles against Australia, could be an option at the back, while Ousmane Dembele, whose foul per 90 count (1.90) stands out, could have tougher defensive duties to handle today when pitting his wits against a wing-back.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg was one of six Danish players fouled by Tunisians on Tuesday and the 27-year-old could be halted in his tracks again today in what could be a physical midfield exchange with France’s Rabiot.
Kasper Dolberg was fouled twice in the same game and the 25-year-old could face similar punishment if he gets the chance to drag France’s Upamecano from his position in the middle with his runs into the channels. Joakim Maehle will hope to get Dembele turned towards his own goal whenever possible and the Barca winger might prefer to foul instead of tracking back diligently.
Match-Ups to watch
Adrien Rabiot vs Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg
Dayot Upamecano vs Kasper Dolberg
Ousmane Dembele vs Joakim Maehle
A number of Denmark players with defensive leanings are worth highlighting today as possible card candidates. Right wing-back Rasmus Kristensen was one of two Danes cautioned against Tunisia and he should be under enough pressure today to make it into the official’s notebook again.
Mathias Jensen brought a combative presence to midfield from the bench on Tuesday and he committed two fouls during his 25 minutes of action – one of which earned him a booking. Joachim Andersen was also collared for two mistimed challenges and the 26-year-old could feel the strain again while trying to beat back the waves of French attacks.
As one of France’s most-fouled players during qualification, Kylian Mbappe (1.13 p/90) is used to picking up bumps and bruises, and the 23-year-old could add to his collection if Denmark’s Kristensen gets within kicking range.
Olivier Giroud’s two-goal showing against Australia could earn him some special treatment from Danish defender Andersen, who will be under instruction to limit his impact as much as possible today. In midfield, Aurélien Tchouaméni – who was fouled twice on Tuesday – might have to fend off similar advances from the aggressive Jensen.
Match-Ups to watch
Rasmus Kristensen vs Kylian Mbappe
Mathias Jensen vs Aurélien Tchouaméni
Joachim Andersen vs Olivier Giroud