‘Ireland can take comfort in Guinness’

The feelgood factor around Denmark’s recent footballing renaissance has cranked up a notch following their World Cup play-off pairing with the Republic of Ireland, admits Danish Eurosport commentator Peter Piil.

‘Ireland can take comfort in Guinness’

“One of the tabloids Ekstra Bladet; the front page on their sports section said ‘The World Cup ticket is Denmark’s’.

“You know how the tabloids react. They are taking it for granted, saying the Irish will have to take comfort with a couple of Guinnesses.

“The feeling is that over two matches the quality of Denmark’s players has to show and be decisive.

“But we are aware that the Irish team is without megastars but have a very strong collective and team spirit.

“We expect tight, not high scoring games. That is the common opinion.”

Most of the Irish players are household, if not megastar, names in Denmark.

“Most people over here know the majority of the Irish players because they play in the Premier League or the Championship. We watch that every week.

“Seamus Coleman is the best known Irish player, but James McClean too, not only because he’s a good player but because of his history of rejecting the Remembrance Day thing. Things like that create news in a Premier League-mad country like Denmark.”

Denmark have failed to qualify for the last two major tournaments, but fans reconnected with the team during the 4-0 win over Poland last month.

“That game against Poland created that spirit that we once had but haven’t had for a number of years,” Piil said.

But he accepts there are several reasons for Ireland to be optimistic ahead of the play-off ties, not least having the second leg in Dublin.

“Against the Irish especially, we wanted home advantage first. The manager Age Hareide has said we have to create the result in the first game.”

And there remain some doubts among Danes as to how good the team is.

“The style of play has been so-so. Sometimes very poor. We have some problems. Andrea Cornelius, who was a star against Poland, is not playing in Italy (Atalanta) right now. He’s on the bench.

“Jorgensen is top scorer in Dutch football last season but he’s coming back after injury.

“Kasper Dolberg, a star with Ajax last season, suffered against Man United in the Europa League final and hasn’t been the same since.

“Our two left-backs Durmisi and Larsson are both injured.”

Piil looks to Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen as the Danes’ main man, but also Celta Vigo’s Pione Sisto.

“Apart from Messi, he has been involved in most goals in Spain this season.”

And whatever the result, Piil might share a Guinness or two himself next month.

“We like the Irish fans very much. I did Ireland v Holland in Orlando in ’94. Not a very good game for Ireland but to see the Irish fans there was amazing and I’m looking forward to experiencing that again.”

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