The key battles as Ireland must end Denmark's three-year unbeaten run

Ireland are facing one of the in-form teams in Europe, whose unbeaten run over the past three years is lurking them towards world record territory.

The key battles as Ireland must end Denmark's three-year unbeaten run

Denmark's form guide:

Ireland are facing one of the in-form teams in Europe, whose unbeaten run over the past three years is lurking them towards world record territory. Two more games with defeat and they’ll equal the 35 match record shared by Brazil and Spain.

Not since they lost narrowly to Poland in October 2016 have this team suffered defeat. Granted, Croatia beat them on the way to the 2018 World Cup final but that was on penalties and their Futsal team fell to Slovenia a few months later when asked to step up after the Age Hareide’s side went on strike. When Denmark don’t win, they tend not to lose. They are the only unbeaten nation in Group D.

The Denmark boss: Age Hareide

A wily character with a journeyman’s reputation, the Norwegian was a controversial choice as replacement for former captain Morten Olsen in 2015 but had earned respect from players and fans alike. Denmark’s only blip in the campaign so far was the scoreless draw in Georgia and their manager was absent, convalescing from knee surgery.

That the Danish FA have already appointed his successor for whenever their involvement in the Euros ends has riled him but results have continued to be impressive. Hareide says he already has offers from two clubs, while the possibility of managing his native Norway for a second stint is another possibility.

Three key battles: 1. David McGoldrick v Simon Kjaer:

Didsy will lead the Ireland line after missing last month’s double-header with a calf strain. The Sheffield United striker was kept in reserve for Thursday’s friendly against New Zealand with this mission in mind.

Kjaer, as Danish captain, leads by example in the role of no-nonsense centre-back but is currently a little ring-rusty from being out of favour at Serie A club Atalanta. On the ground and in their air, their duel will be interesting.

2.Glenn Whelan v Christian Eriksen:

Mick McCarthy cited Whelan’s ability to execute man-marking missions as a key reason behind his return to the side. That was achieved back in June when Denmark’s talisman was kept quiet in the first fixture in Copenhagen. Eriksen may be having a quiet season for Tottenham, potential due to being unsettled, but his country always seem to get the best of him.

Whelan’s job will be do limit the time and space afforded to Eriksen to ensure no repeat of his masterclass at the same venue two years ago.

3. Enda Stevens v Yussuf Poulsen:

Expect Kasper Schmeichel to try pick out the gangly right-winger with his punts from goal. Physically strong, quick and dynamic, Poulsen has been Denmark’s stand-out attacker in this campaign, burying the precious winner against top seeds Switzerland last month.

Stevens has a task on his hands to mind the Bundesliga battering ram, so the early exchanges will be crucial.

Ireland’s record against Denmark:

Played 18. Ireland won 4, drew 9 and lost 5.

The tenures of Eoin Hand and Martin O’Neill ended following matches against Denmark and there will be major questions of Mick McCarthy seeing out his fixed contract if things go pear-shaped tomorrow tonight.

Half of the meetings have ended in draws, an insufficient return for Ireland in the current circumstances.

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