Denmark head to the 2022 World Cup without a ‘dark horse’ tag for the first time since conquering Europe at the end of the 20th century.

Kasper Hjulmand’s charges reached the semi-finals of Euro 2020 and are now one of international football’s most respected outfits heading into this winter’s showdown.

With a wealth of tournament experience behind them, the Rod-Hvide make their way to Qatar as outside chances of going all the way.

Here’s what to expect from Denmark at the World Cup.

Hjulmand has so far named 21 players in his squad and will confirm his final five selections prior to the tournament.

Goalkeepers: Kasper Schmeichel (Nice), Oliver Christensen (Hertha Berlin)

Defenders: Simon Kjaer (Milan), Andreas Christensen (Barcelona), Jens Stryger Larsen (Trabzonspor), Daniel Wass (Brondby), Joakim Maehle (Atalanta), Joachim Andersen (Crystal Palace), Rasmus Kristensen (Leeds), Victor Nelsson (Galatasaray)

Midfielders: Christian Eriksen (Manchester United), Thomas Delaney (Sevilla), Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Tottenham), Mathias Jensen (Brentford)

Forwards: Martin Braithwaite (Espanyol), Andreas Cornelius (Copenhagen), Kasper Dolberg (Sevilla), Andreas Skov Olsen (Brugge), Mikkel Damsgaard (Brentford), Jonas Wind (Wolfsburg), Jesper Lindstrom (Frankfurt)

Part of Hjulmand’s reasoning behind picking a preliminary 21-player squad was to allow players working their way back from injuries the chance to prove their fitness.

Brentford’s Christian Norgaard and RB Leipzig’s Yussuf Poulsen are two key figures who will be looking to break back into the fold after returning to matchday action recently.

It’s a miracle that Christian Eriksen is heading to Qatar in great physical condition and back at the top of his game following his cardiac arrest at Euro 2020. The playmaker has already become a key figure at Manchester United under Erik ten Hag following an impressive opening to 2022 with Brentford.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg has become a true leader for both club and country in the last couple of years, and he enters the World Cup stage in the form of his life after a brilliant opening to the season with Spurs. The only concern Hjulmand may have is that he’s barely had a rest to this point and could become jaded as the tournament goes on.

Injuries have meant that Andreas Christensen’s beginnings to life at Barcelona have been start-stop, but he’s easily the most important defender in Denmark’s squad and brings plenty of big-game experience to the side.

One of the shining stars of Denmark’s Euro 2020 run, Joakim Maehle still hasn’t quite hit the same heights at club level with Atalanta. Nevertheless, his work rate and productivity in the final third mean he remains a star for the national side.

Hjulmand has flittered between 3-4-3 and 4-3-3 formations in the last few months, but given they come up against a France side who will also be playing three-at-the-back on neutral ground, the former seems the most likely option out in Qatar.

Denmark predicted XI: Schmeichel; Andersen, Kjaer, Christensen; Wass, Hojbjerg, Delaney, Maehle; Eriksen, Dolberg, Olsen.

After a strong start to 2022, Denmark have endured a rather inconsistent patch in recent international windows.

As mentioned, they faced off against France in the Nations League, beating Les Bleus on home soil in their last competitive outing. However, their overall form has been up-and-down to say the least.

Austria 1-2 Denmark
Denmark 0-1 Croatia
Denmark 2-0 Austria
Croatia 2-1 Denmark
Denmark 2-0 France

This World Cup is going to be a real litmus test of where Denmark will stand on the international stage in terms of reputation for the next decade.

If they make a deep run once more, then we’ll know for sure that they can be a force to upset the apple cart over the next few years.

They should make some noise in Qatar and can upset some of the big boys, but ultimately others will simply have more quality when it matters.

Prediction: Quarter-final


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