Seen by many before the tournament as a significant dark horse threat within the tournament, Denmark were held to a surprising scoreless draw by Tunisia in their first game of this year’s World Cup. A very injured France looked to be victims of the World Cup Winners’ curse after quickly going down 1-0 against Australia, but they recovered to turn the day into a resounding victory. Let’s get into the odds and make some picks for the match that could either solidify France at the top of the group, or see Denmark clawing their way back into contention.
France Vs. Denmark Odds
France are installed as narrow favorites, with their end of the three-way moneyline being set at -120. The draw is +255, while Denmark are +360 to win outright. The goalscoring total is a pretty standard 2.5, something to watch with a strong French attack going up against a steady Danish defense.
France Vs. Denmark Prediction & Pick
Before the tournament, many saw this as a match that could be “winner take all” as far as topping the group, but after Denmark’s early draw, that notion may be a thing of the past. The Danes will be fighting as hard as possible just for qualification; they’re not necessarily in trouble, but if the Australia-Tunisia game produces a winner, Denmark will be sweating it out if they lose to France and are sitting with just a single point headed into their final match. It was great to see leaders like Christian Eriksen and Simon Kjaer back on the pitch together for Denmark, after Eriksen’s terrifying on-field cardiac arrest in Euro 2020, and Kjaer’s tough injury picked up not long after. Still, the team needs more production on the front end than they had in the opening match shutout.
France has also had some injury issues, to say the least- Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kanté, Presnel Kimpembe are among the 2018 champs who didn’t make the trip to Qatar, nor did new attacking options Karim Benzema and Christopher Nkunku, and veteran defender Lucas Hernández got hurt in the process of Australia scoring the opener. Luckily, the team has as much depth of talent as any in the World, and they showed it against Australia as a whole litany of injury replacement, such as AC Milan duo Theo Hernández and Olivier Giroud, excelled with many of the mainstays out. Of course, Australia is very far from the best competition France will have to face as they attempt to defend their title, but it was a solid opener despite the shaky first minutes.
For the outright result, I love the value of France -120. Denmark are a fine side, but the French are just on a different level; it may not be the prettiest win ever but they’re going to get it done. The total is a bit of a tougher one. I’m confident that the French will score more than once, but will Denmark manage any? This isn’t one of my favorite bets so far, but I’m leaning over 2.5 goals scored in this match.
French back line vs. Danish attack
In 2018, the centre-back pairing of Raphael Varane and Samuel Umtiti helped France claim their second-ever World Cup- Umtiti actually scored the winner in a classic 1-0 semifinal against Belgium. This year, with Umtiti off the squad and Varane banged up, as well as another veteran, Presnel Kimpembe out, France opened up the World Cup with Ibrahima Konaté and Dayot Upamecano in those positions. Another major decision was to start 2018 starter Lucas Hernández over his far more talented brother Theo, a choice probably made to preserve from continuity, with so many starters forced out with injuries. The results were mixed; there was that early Australia goal, but things settled down after that, perhaps due in part to the introduction of Theo after Lucas unfortunately went down with a major injury during that goalscoring play for the Socceroos. It’ll be interesting to see if France go with the same back four as they did in the first game, or maybe they’ll switch things up- Barca man Jules Koundé got in off of the bench and can play a couple of different defensive positions, and Arsenal’s breakout star William Saliba was unused in the win over Australia. Either one could provide a needed presence in the middle of a French defense in flux.
In their first major tournament showing since endearing themselves to the World as the heroes of Euro 2020, the Danes were completely shut down by an unheralded Tunisia defense. Despite possessing the ball for 62% of the match, they turned 11 shots into 1.6 xG, which in turn of course yielded 0 actual goals. Kasper Dolberg and Andreas Olsen started up top for Denmark, while midfielders like Christian Eriksen and Pierre-Emile Højbjerg were expected to be heavily involved in attacking play as well. Martin Braithwaite and Mikkel Damsgaard were big contributors during the Euro run, but Damsgaard played just the second half against Tunisia and Braithwaite didn’t see any of the pitch at all; it’ll be interesting to see if manager Kasper Hjulmand makes any changes to his attacking group or even the formation overall after the unsuccessful ventures against Tunisia.
France Midfield vs. Denmark Midfield
Denmark has a pretty experienced midfield group, which allowed their team to possess 62% of the ball last game. We’ve already briefly discussed Prem players Eriksen and Højbjerg, and between the two of them was Sevilla’s Thomas Delaney, who seemed to struggle a bit in the first half before being removed in favor of Damsgaard. Denmark also ran a 3-5-2 in their first match, meaning that fullbacks Joakim Maehle and Rasmus Kristensen, of Atalanta and Leeds, respectively, were more or less a part of a very wide midfield. This group overall did a really solid job of possessing the football and creating a couple of chances; they’re going to have to do the same and even more if they want to contend with a much better opponent this time out.
The veteran presence in the Denmark midfield brings a lot of value, and France would have had the same and then some if Pogba and Kanté were active. That being said, youngster Aurélien Tchouaméni looked outstanding in his World Cup debut against Australia. Perhaps to infuse some more experience into the lineup, Adrien Rabiot got the start over Tchouaméni’s Real Madrid midfield partner Camavinga and made the most of it- he scored France’s equalizer before picking up an assist later on. Interestingly, when Tchouaméni was subbed out, Youssouf Fofana somehow went in over Camavinga, something to watch out for going forward. Antoine Griezmann was back at the CAM position, and he looked far more comfortable than he has when playing at striker, and especially on the wing. France’s midfield group looks a bit different than they may have hoped coming into the World Cup, but it’s still chock-full of talent and seems to be settling in nicely.