Nizhniy Novgorod (Russia) (AFP) – Denmark coach Age Hareide said his side’s World Cup last-16 match against Croatia could boil down to who comes out on top in the midfield battle between Christian Eriksen and Luka Modric.
The Danes failed to set pulses racing in the opening round, featuring in the first goalless draw of the World Cup against France, a result that ensured both sides progressed from Group C.
But Hareide said his team would be more expansive and play differently against the fancied Croats in Nizhny Novgorod on Sunday.
“I think you will see a different Denmark from what you have seen so far and the type of game we have played,” said Hareide. “Yes, we need to defend but we need to attack more.”
He said the match could end up being decided by two opposing midfielders, Modric, one of the players of the tournament so far, and Denmark’s highly rated Eriksen.
“It could be a match between Modric and Eriksen, that would be interesting, that would be great for the fans.”
Denmark are unbeaten for 18 games, a national record, their last defeat coming against Montenegro in October 2016.
They have also kept six clean sheets in their past seven games.
If Denmark beat Croatia, it will be only the second time the Danes have qualified for the last eight of the World Cup, the other occasion being in 1998.
The two teams have only met in the finals of a major competition once before, when Croatia won 3-0 at Euro 96, and Davor Suker famously lobbed Danish goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel.
His son, Kasper, is now the Danish ‘keeper and, despite saying earlier this tournament he was tired of answering questions about his father, the younger Schmeichel was asked if he knew Suker was.
“He’s a Croat, that’s all I know,” he deadpanned.