Denmark is the next name on the Socceroos’ list as they head to Samara for the second Group C fixture on Thursday night (AEST) – you can catch it at 10pm AEST on SBS and Optus Sport.
Ranked 12th in the world, Denmark finished second in their qualifying group behind Poland and qualified for the FIFA World Cup™ via a playoff win over Republic of Ireland.
They kicked off their FIFA World Cup™ campaign with a gutsy 1-0 win over Peru, and now we take a look at just who the key men are ahead of the Socceroos’ clash with Denmark on Thursday.
Undoubtedly the talisman for Denmark, Eriksen is one of the English Premier League’s best players and the key to almost everything Denmark do.
He’s the equal-second most capped player in Denmark’s squad (79) and will tick over to 80 when he takes the pitch against Australia.
The Tottenham midfielder made his international debut at the age of 18 and became Denmark’s fourth youngest full international.
Eriksen was absolutely key to the Danes qualifying for this FIFA World Cup™, scoring a hat-trick in a playoff qualifier against Republic of Ireland which secured their passage.
Described as a ‘wow’ footballer by former Denmark manager Morten Olsen, Eriksen is the key cog in a side built around him.
He set up their solitary goal in that 1-0 win over Peru in their opening Group C fixture and will be a handful for Australia come Thursday.
The son of legendary Danish and Manchester United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel, Kasper Schmeichel has more than stepped out of his father’s shadow and is a rock at the back for Denmark.
Vice-captain of the national team, the 31-year-old goalkeeper was vital in Leicester City’s magical 2015-16 title-winning season and is key to Denmark’s hopes in Russia.
Schmeichel made his debut for Denmark in February 2013 against Macedonia and has since gone on to make 36 appearances for the national team.
He was enormous in the 1-0 win over Peru in their opening Group C fixture, making six saves and standing tall as Peru’s Christian Cuevas fired a penalty over the bar.
Schmeichel appeared in 33 of Leicester’s 38 league games this season and is yet to concede a goal for Denmark yet in 2018 with five games played. Getting past him on Thursday will be a huge test for Australia.
A success story of the famous Chelsea system which loans young players out all over Europe, at just 22-year-old Andreas Christensen is emerging as one of the world’s leading young centre-backs.
He made his international debut in June 2015 as a 19-year-old and played six matches in Denmark’s World Cup qualifying campaign.
Described by Chelsea coach Antonio Conte as a future club captain, Christensen appeared in 27 of Chelsea’s 38 league appearances this season and helped keep the equal-fourth best defence in the league.
Christensen came off during the win over Peru with a knock which did have Danish hearts in mouths, but it’s been confirmed that it was just cramp, and he’ll be fit to face the Aussies.
Denmark captain Simon Kjær is at the back-end of a career which has seen him play club football in countries such as Italy, Germany, and France.
On Thursday night, Kjær is likely to line up in the centre of defence alongside Andreas Christensen when Denmark face Australia on Thursday.
It’s a match which will see him rack up his 80th appearance in Danish colours, making him the equal-second most capped player in the Denmark squad at the FIFA World Cup™.
He played his part in Sevilla’s La Liga campaign this season, playing 20 times and scoring twice in the league. He appeared in all six of their UEFA Champions League matches too, scoring once.
Kjær has been wary of the quality of the Australia team in the lead up to the match in Samara, praising the reigning Asian champions. He has a lot of quality of his own and will be tough to break down on Thursday.
At just 20-years-old with six international appearances under his belt, Dolberg may appear an odd choice for one of Denmark’s key men but has the potential to be a huge threat off the bench.
Having risen through the ranks at Ajax after joining the Dutch club from hometown club Silkeborg in Denmark, the young attacker made his international debut as a 19-year-old in a win over Kazakhstan.
His six appearances on the international stage rank him as the equal-fourth most inexperienced player in the Danish squad, but what he lacks in experience he makes up for in raw talent.
Similarly explosive to Australia’s own Daniel Arzani off the bench, Dolberg is just the type of player who has the potential to come off the bench and cause problems for defences. If he’s given the nod on Thursday, Australia will need to be wary.