Ireland and Denmark have become more than acquainted with one another over the past couple of years, with the pair clashing in four competitive games in just under 24 months.
The Danes had Ireland’s number in arguably the most important of the clashes, at the Aviva Stadium in November of 2017, with a Christian Eriksen hattrick helping them to a 5-1 win and a spot at the World Cup in Russia.
The other three games, however, have been less one-sided, with the pair drawing 0-0 in the first leg of the World Cup playoff in Copenhagen before two more stalemates home and away in the UEFA Nations League in 2018.
The results were considered generally positive for Ireland, especially the away leg of the World Cup playoff, but each time the Boys in Green have quelled the Danish attack they have added to their frustrations, with some players and management expressing their disdain for the Irish style of play.
As the build to Friday’s game hots up and the Danes continue to vilify the challenge that Ireland possesses, let’s take a look at a brief history of Danish disgust.
“Breaking Down Ireland Is A Bit Like Opening A Can Of Beans With Your Bare Hands”
A now infamous line uttered by Danish midfielder Thomas Delaney following the first leg of the World Cup playoff between Ireland and Denmark.
The Danes simply couldn’t break down Martin O’Neill’s Irish side who frustrated their hosts without having many clear cut chances to score themselves, content to take a point back to the Aviva for the second leg.
Speaking to the Danish sports magazine Tipsbladet, Delaney said: “We can live with the result today.
“We can draw 1-1 against Ireland, and then we are on. So that’s OK, but it was a hard fight – as expected and feared. We tried and tried, but it was a bit like opening a can of baked beans with your bare hands – it takes time.
“I would like to see that we had put one in the first half. We have chances, but it’s not an easy team to meet and I expect and hope they try a little more in Dublin, and then we can get a little more space.”
“It Reminded Me Of The Old Days In League Two.”
The playoff draw also clearly got on the nerves of Denmark and Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel who was mostly critical of the pitch the game was played on but also took a dig at the fact that his opposite number Darren Randolph was the man of the match.
“There was no grass on it. No grass and it was soft. It reminded of the old days in Bury in League Two and that kind of pitch. It was the same for both teams, but it is disappointing for such a big game.
“We tried to play fast football, but we had to take an extra touch all the time to hold on to the ball. It made a little difference, but that’s no excuse. It was the same for both teams.”
“Randolph made some great saves so we’re a little disappointed not to have won, but it’s not the end of the world,” he said.
“They were very disciplined and had the clear aim of stopping us scoring. When you see the opposition keeper being the man of the match, it tells you the story.
‘Thank You Very Much For Giving Us Space”
The second leg of the playoff went much better from a Danish perspective with Eriksen’s masterclass leading them toward a comprehensive 5-1 win at the Aviva Stadium.
Shane Duffy gave Ireland an early lead but O’Neill’s men capitulated as the Spurs maestro took control of the game.
Even in victory Danish boss, Age Hareide wasn’t shy on sarcastically thanking Ireland for giving his side so much space in the game.
“Just to say, ‘Thank you very much for giving us space’, because they locked us down in Parken very well and Eriksen was very much out of the game and today he was fantastic.”
“For Them, 0-0 Is Probably A Good Result.”
The first game in their Nations League doubleheader ended in a 0-0 draw at the Aviva Stadium with Age Hareide even complimenting the Boys in Green before the clash calling them “hard to beat.”
The second game, another 0-0 draw, the Danes weren’t as complimentary, beginning with Christian Eriksen’s subtle pregame dismissal of Ireland.
“If you have a team that wants to play and a team that doesn’t want to play, then the game will be dragged out,”
“For them, 0-0 is probably a good result whereas we want to score goals and create chances.
“They will play the way they have in previous games, with a lot of people behind the ball so we’ll have to play quick and open up the game.
“We’ll probably get fewer chances than we have in some of our other games but we’ll look to create as many as we can.”
“They’re Scared To Go Forward”
The Spurs man was less subtle in his scathing criticism of Ireland following the draw in Aarhus, criticising O’Neill’s side’s style of play.
“In the second game in Ireland they wanted to go forward, but they knew what happened. So, that’s probably why they’re too scared to go forward.”
“They play like this in every game we’ve played (against them over the last year).”
— Robert Redmond (@RobRedmond10) November 19, 2018
“You Can Change The Manager, But Cannot Change The Players.”
Fast forward nine months and Ireland and Denmark are set to do battle once again this time in the qualifiers for the European Championships in 2020.
Now managed by Mick McCarthy, the new Irish boss has outlined that he will be opting for a more progressive style against the Danes.
Something that Huddersfield and Denmark defender Martin Jorgensen doesn’t appear to agree with.
“You can change the manager, but cannot change the players. It doesn’t make the style any different,”
“We all know which way Ireland will play. They will come to our stadium, sit back and be happy to play for a draw,” he said.
“Their game-plan of trying to keep us scoreless is one we’ve come to respect. They’ve managed that three times in the four games.
However, that will be difficult for them this time because we always take the initiative when playing in front of our fans.”
‘Oh No, Not Them Again’. They’re The Most Annoying Opponent.”
A fitting way to end this list with Thomas Delaney, the man whose can of beans comment started a cacophony of underhanded exchanges.
The Dortmund midfielder told the media in Denmark during the week that Ireland were “the most annoying opponents” to play against in international football.
“When I saw that we got Ireland again, I said ‘oh no, not them again’. They’re the most annoying opponent.”
“We’ve room for improvement. We don’t like playing Ireland. They don’t play flowing football but they’re skilled at what they do and that makes it a struggle.
“But it’s also easy to sit and defend a 0-0. That’s just maintaining the status quo so it’ll take something different for Ireland to score.”