Denmark manager Age Hareide is preparing for a very tight contest across two legs in next month’s World Cup play-off against Ireland.
As the seeded team in the tie, Denmark will be the favourites to progress to Russia, and to take a lead from Copenhagen to Dublin, but Hareide has suggested that the first leg may not produce a winner at all – or even a goal – and says that this might not be such a bad thing:
Speaking to TV2 Sport, Martin O’Neill’s former teammate says that a goalless draw in the first leg to take to the Aviva wouldn’t be such a bad thing – and has backed his team to get the job done in Ireland’s home turf:
“They are good at defending, and therefore we need some patience when we get to the park.
“Ireland has just over 500 successful passes on the last third. We have about 1,100 passes on that part of the (pitch). It shows what we emphasise.
“Nil-nil in Parken is not a disaster, because a goal away from home can mean a lot. A goal away from home will put a lot of pressure on the opponent, and we’ll keep that in mind.”
It should be noted that keeping Ireland goalless, particularly away from home, is no easy task. The last time they failed to score on the road (barring the neutral setting of Euro 2016) the last tine they failed to score an away goal was November 2014’s 1-0 defeat Scotland, and in recent years have scored at least once in Germany, Poland, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia, Austria and Wales.
Aiming to finish the job in Dublin should be the priority for Denmark, but Ireland will be aiming to, and given their recent history it is a strong possibility that they do, bring an away goal into the second leg.