Denmark vs Japan – Rocket Rommedahl to send Danes soaring
In a classic final group game scenario it’s a straight knock-out between Denmark and Japan, with the victors going through and the losers tumbling out. The match kicks off at 7.30pm.
With the Japanese on level goal difference and the Danes on minus one, it is the Asian team who have the advantage of being able to settle for a draw in order to progress (12/5).
Denmark were impressive in clawing themselves back into this tournament after a howling defensive error put them 1-0 down against Cameroon and seemingly on their way home.
Dennis Rommedahl turned back time to set up Nicklas Bendtner for the equaliser and then scored a slick solo effort to win it, and he can be the vital figure in breaking through an organised Japan defence.
Japan’s display against Holland showed that their defence really is as rock solid as boss Takeshi Okada would have opponents believe. Only a goalkeeper error allowed a usually free-scoring Dutch team to net and Denmark will have to be clinical with their chances to have any hope. A 0-0 is 7/1.
And with defender Yasuyuki Konno the only doubt for Okada, Japan should be able to field a full-strength XI, while Denmark have their best defender Simon Kjaer ruled out through suspension.
However, Japan have never reached the knock-out stages of the World Cup outside their own country whereas Denmark have never failed to progress from a World Cup group.
With those conflicting histories, reinforced by the number of Danes who were in the squad eight years ago (Rommedahl, Jon Dahl Tomasson, Jesper Gronkjaer, Martin Jorgensen), it seems likely that Marten Olsen’s side will do what’s required.
Japan are limited in attack and have only netted nine times in 12 World Cup matches. Their only goalscorer so far, Keisuke Honda, is 8/1 to score first here.
Expect an incisive Denmark to take a first-half lead and perhaps add a second on the counter late on with the Asians pushing for a leveller. 2-0 is 15/2.