As we countdown to Russia 2018, we take a look at all 32 teams and suggest a reason to back them. With 25 days to the big kick-off it is the turn of Denmark.


Okay, so the notion of supporting the team that well and truly shattered our own World Cup dreams may be too much for some, but we have seen first-hand the damage they could potentially cause in Group C alongside Australia, France and Peru.

While they are unlikely to be afforded the same time and space that was witnessed at the Aviva Stadium last November, any side with Christian Eriksen in it is likely to create opportunities.

After a 4-0 win over Poland and a 5-1 victory in Dublin within the space of two months, Age Hareide’s side have shown they are capable of slicing defences open and travel to Russia in confident form.

The Danes aren’t solely a one-man team – Kasper Schmeichel joins a small group of father-son duos to have both played in a World Cup, in front of a defence likely to feature Simon Kjaer and Chelsea’s Andreas Christensen, while Thomas Delaney and Yussuf Poulsen will offer something going forward – but all eyes will be on the Tottenham Hotspur star.

The three-time Danish Footballer of the Year has again been a leading light in the Premier League, while as Republic of Ireland fans saw up close and personal, is equally destructive on the international front.

Eriksen hit nine goals in as many appearances in 2017 for his country, with a hat-trick in Dublin sealing their passage to Russia.

"Thank you very much for giving him space," Hareide told reporters after the comprehensive win in Dublin, admitting he was surprise the space afforded in the middle of the pitch.

"Today he was fantastic. Always fantastic player on the ball, works hard for the team, inspiration for all the lads around him. That’s the difference between the sides."

Their last World Cup appearance was in 2010, where they finished third in the group. While the current crop isn’t nearly as strong as the star-studded side that reached the 1998 quarter-finals, they are being looked on in some quarters as a team more than capable of an upset or two.

It may not be a group that has captured much of the limelight in the previews, but is promises to be one of the tightest. Just five places separate France (7), Peru (11) and the Danes (12) in the world rankings, with Australia a lowly 40th.

The unlikely 1992 European champions open their campaign against Peru and will hope to have qualification hopes alive when they conclude Group C against Les Bleus at the Luzhniki Stadium.

Goalkeepers: Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester City), Frederik Ronnow (Brondby), Jonas Lossl (Huddersfield Town)

Defenders: Henrik Dalsgaard (Brentford), Simon Kjaer (Sevilla), Jens Stryger Larsen (Udinese), Mathias Jorgensen (Huddersfield Town), Jannik Vestergaard (Borussia Monchengladbach), Andreas Christensen (Chelsea), Jonas Knudsen (Ipswich Town)

Midfielders: William Kvist (Copenhagen), Thomas Delaney (Werder Bremen), Christian Eriksen (Tottenham Hotspur), Lukas Lerager (Bordeaux), Michael Krohn-Dehli (Deportivo), Lasse Schone (Ajax), Pione Sisto (Celta Vigo)

Forwards: Nicolai Jorgensen (Feyenoord), Yussuf Poulsen (RB Leipzig), Viktor Fischer (Copenhagen), Kasper Dolberg (Ajax), Andreas Cornelius (Atalanta), Martin Braithwaite (Bordeaux)

You can follow the FIFA World Cup from 14 June with RTÉ. Live blogs of every game on RTÉ.ie and the News Now App, with 56 games live on RTÉ television and all 64 games available on the RTÉ Player.