Van Marwijk's change up that could spark decisive Denmark win

The Socceroos will be desperate for all three points when they take on Denmark in their second match at the 2018 FIFA World Cup™ on Thursday night (AEST).

Bert van Marwijk’s men put in a courageous display in going down to heavyweights France on the weekend but will now look to build on that display against the Danes in Samara – live on SBS and Optus Sport at 10pm AEST.

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Shutting down Danish superstar Christian Eriksen is likely to be vital to Australia's hopes, while van Marwijk will hope to get more going forward from playmaker Tom Rogic.

And how will the Socceroos boss use veteran striker Tim Cahill, who is aiming to become just the fifth player to score in four consecutive FIFA World Cup™ tournaments?

Here are the biggest talking points surrounding Australia's crucial clash against Denmark on Thursday night, live on SBS and Optus Sport.


Denmark’s gutsy 1-0 over Peru on Sunday marked the first time in history they have kept five straight clean sheets, but coach Age Hareide was first to admit his side's triumph was aided by a hefty slice of good fortune.

Having been outplayed by the Peruvians in the opening 45 minutes, Denmark somehow managed to emerge winners. It wasn't exactly a resounding vindication of Hareide's decision to set up cautiously against the South Americans, however, it does put Denmark in a strong position to qualify from Group C off the back of their resolute defence.

With this in mind, one wonders whether the huge stakes of the FIFA World Cup™ will force Hareide to approach Thursday's match against Australia conservatively once more, knowing the Socceroos enter the match with little margin for error.

If the Denmark boss does opt for a similar approach against Bert van Marwijk's side, he could well hand the Socceroos an opportunity to punish the opposition in the way a profligate Peru outfit could not. And if Australia can mirroring the intensity of their South American counterparts from the opening whistle, the Scandinavians could be in for a surprise. 

The first goal in this encounter could prove crucial, and if fortune is willing to favour the brave, a purposeful start to the match from van Marwijk's men could establish an early foothold and on their way to victory.




Hareide has consistently downplayed Christian Eriksen’s importance to the Denmark cause, but the Socceroos’ ability shackle the Tottenham man will likely influence Thursday's outcome.

Eriksen has been directly involved in 13 of Denmark’s last 19 goals and supplied the winner for Yussuf Poulsen against Peru, underlining his importance to Denmark’s attack. Denmark might not be a one-man team, but Eriksen is the one man who is to be at the heart of everything good they do.

He was largely on the fringes throughout Denmark’s win over Peru on Sunday, but only needed one moment to change the game when he supplied a killer assist for Yussuf Poulsen’s 59th-minute winner.

It poses a difficult question for van Marwijk as he prepares to assemble his midfield for Thursday's match. Will the Dutchman assign Mile Jedinak or Jackson Irvine with a man-marking job and risk neglecting Poulsen and Pione Sisto?

Will Australia sit deep and crowd the middle of the pitch to suffocate space for the Denmark creator, and risk blunting their ability to puncture the opposition defence? 

Denmark's Christian Eriksen



Australia's own answer to Eriksen could prove to be Tom Rogic, whose defensive diligence against France was important and mitigated his attacking influence in Saturday evening's encounter.

The Socceroos' finest moments against Les Bleus, and indeed throughout their pre-tournament build up, have arrived when Rogic finds pockets of space in between the opposition's lines of defence and midfield.

When he receives a pass in space, the Celtic man can either drive at defenders or find fullbacks Aziz Behich and Josh Risdon in advanced positions, making Australia their most dangerous.

Rogic's role as the team's biggest creative outlet against France was scuppered as the Socceroos opted to minimise their passing risk from the back, although centre back Trent Sainsbury was able to find him in space on a few occasions in the first half which resulted in promising advances.

But with Australia needing the three points against Denmark, Rogic could return as the team's attacking fulcrum, and their ability to find the Celtic wizard in space might have a huge bearing on the Socceroos chances of keeping their FIFA World Cup™ campaign alive.




Australia's all-time leading scorer didn't feature in the Socceroos' defeat to France, with coach Bert van Marwijk instead opting for the selfless Andrew Nabbout from the start and the physical presence of Tomi Juric off the bench.

Cahill's France omission will only fuel his desire to make an impact at his fourth consecutive FIFA World Cup™, and should the Dutchman need a goal late in the day, the 38-year-old could yet again prove to be Australia's saviour.

Cahill has accounted for nearly half of Australia's FIFA World Cup™ goals and if he finds the back of the net for a 51st time in green and gold, he'll be joining Cristiano Ronaldo, Pele, Uwe Seeler and Miroslav Klose as the only players to score in four separate FIFA World Cup™ tournaments.


While the Socceroos might be looking to model some of Peru's approach on the field against Denmark, the Australian fans could also benefit from doing the same in the stands.

The South Americans have had one of the most colourful and vocal fan bases at this year's tournament following their 32-year drought, and Hareide conceded after the match on Sunday that his Denmark side were intimidated by the frenetic Peruvian support.

"I do think we were a bit afraid of the atmosphere, the intensity of it," the Denmark boss admitted.

"We haven't practised that very much, but we have practised a lot at being a team.

"The morale of the team was very good. We were under pressure, they came forward with so many men ... It's good to have a good goalkeeper, let me put it that way!"

Socceroos players thank the fans for their support inside the Kazan Arena.