World Cup 2018: Three reasons why Denmark shared points with France
France and Denmark played out one of the most nondescript draws in World Cup history. This draw and a historic victory for Peru against the Aussies meant that both these sides were through to the next round.
Also, after a long wait of 37 games, the buzzing football fraternity witnessed a 0-0 stalemate between two outfits.
The first-half started off as envisaged, with France comfortably getting themselves into the game and Denmark placing bodies behind the ball to restrict their opponents from scoring.
The Danes had the first opportunity of the fixture when Andreas Cornelius offered a headed pass to Martin Braithwaite, who couldn't meet the ball and was mauled by two defenders at once.
Center-back Simon Kjaer wide header only implied that Denmark was ready to grab their chances with full authority.
The Frenchman, despite eating up more possession, looked shaky on both sides of the pitch. Minutes later, the best chance of the game fell to Tottenham Hotspur ace, Christian Eriksen. The crafty midfielder couldn't quite make the right connection and eventually, the ball was mopped by Mandanda.
Apart from a chance to Giroud and a couple of wayward long-range attempts from Griezmann and Dembele, France had nothing to boast about.
Going into the tunnel, Denmark knew that they would go through irrespective of their result, as Australia then, needed nothing short of a miraculous climax to their match against Peru.
And as many would predict, the second-half got slower as it was played at nothing more than a pedestrian pace.
Åge Hareide's side sat deeper and soaked in all the pressure, frustrating Olivier Giroud and co. to a large effect. In this half too, Christian Eriksen had a couple of openings which he didn't capitalize on.
Olivier Giroud blazed one shot over the post and the unwillingness of French players to get into the box and receive crosses summed up the evening. Crosses from Griezmann and Lemar were either not met by anyone, or were poor, to say the least.
The fans in the stadium closed the curtains on the game with boos and other signs of frustration.
Here are three reasons why Denmark managed to salvage a point against France:
#1 Sitting deep and parking the bus
The most important feature of this draw was the raw fact that Denmark deployed 10 men behind the ball to ensure a French shut-out.
It may or may not work out as we have seen in this World Cup. Teams drill themselves and prepare for a defensive shift for a whole 90 minutes, but fail to complete their mission.
This time around albeit, Hareide was able to install discipline, perseverance and structure to his side's staging.
It's not easy to defend like that and own the better chances in the game. For a minute, forget the draw these two teams played out and appreciate the tactics and desire shown by the Danish players.
Right from the very first attack launched by France, Denmark had their task cut out. They crammed the final third with four/five at the back always and guarded that back line with three midfielders.
Although they left the wider areas open for use, the box was jam-packed with robust defenders, waiting to forestall the completion of the attack.
They played with a very deep back line, allowing France to have time on the ball. But, a stubborn defensive show killed Les Bleus' creativity in their attacking third.
With the right blend of sheer concentration, textbook defending techniques and a safe method of clearing and not lunging into reckless challenges, Denmark illustrated resolve of the highest order.