DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Denmark has been here before.
The Danes face a tense must-win match at the World Cup to reach the knockout stage, similar to what they needed to do at last year’s European Championship.
In fact, it was much worse at Euro 2020 when Denmark lost their first two games while the team was still trying to cope with the trauma of teammate Christian Eriksen’s cardiac arrest on the pitch in the opener against Finland.
All seemed lost. But Denmark beat Russia 4-1 in their last group match using Eriksen as an inspiration. they qualified on goal difference and reached the semifinals.
“We definitely carry that with us,” Danish striker Andreas Cornelius said after Saturday’s 2-1 loss to defending champions France. at the World Cup it left Denmark needing to beat Australia in the final set of Pool D games to advance.
Eriksen is back with Denmark at the World Cup and playing in a major international tournament for the first time. since that day in Copenhagen, when a country and much of the soccer world watched in horror as he lay lifeless on the pitch. Doctors used a defibrillator to restart his heart and save his life.
Cornelius was a substitute and was sitting on the bench when Eriksen collapsed. While terrible at the time, that experience has shaped this Denmark team and given it the stamina it will need against an upbeat Aussie side. he said.
“A lot of things happened at Euros,” Cornelius said. “The first game and all that. And then we came back and we got to the knockout games. It doesn’t really matter how you get through it, as long as we get it done.”
The task in the World Cup does not seem so hopeless. Australia, who have three points, can advance with just one draw while Denmark, with one point, need to win to have a chance of reaching the round of 16. The Danes could still go out on goal difference if France are stunned by Tunisia. .
With that decisive game for Australia in mind, Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand gathered all his players in a large circle in midfield after the loss to France at Stadium 974 and spoke to them.
“I think it’s important that we look into each other’s eyes. Especially when you lose,” Hjulmand said. “It’s something we always do, win or lose. Now the case is clear. We have to win the (Australian) game and we’re focused on that.”
And Eriksen, Denmark’s key midfielder, is back with his team and ready to help.
“We had zero points in the first two games at the Euros,” Hjulmand said. “We still have hope.”
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