Here we go again. Big bad Denmark are in town and the Republic of Ireland will need to change the narrative around games against ‘De rød-hvide’ if the Boys in Green are to earn passage to the Euros on Monday night.
Without a competitive win over the Danes for forty years, Ireland have faced Age Hareide’s men five times in the last two years without securing a win – there have been four draws and that heavy 5-1 defeat in the Russia 2018 playoff.
If Ireland are to qualify automatically for EURO2020 then we need a happy ending to this particular Danish fairy tale.
Mick McCarthy isn’t reading too much into the distant or even recent history. The game in Copenhagen back in June ended for Ireland with a creditable 1-1 draw – with Shane Duffy, named as captain for Monday’s game, getting the equaliser five minutes from time.
A draw will not suffice this time around for Ireland but would do so for Denmark who just need a point for automatic qualification.
“I haven’t been involved in these five games against Denmark,” said McCarthy at his pre-match press conference on Sunday morning. “I just want to win the game. It doesn’t matter if it is Denmark or anyone else.
“Can I tell you how I am feeling today? The knot is there to today. It will be with the players. There should always be an edge there.”
The backstop for McCarthy’s men is of course the fall back of the March playoffs, ‘earned’ through the UEFA Nations League. There are still a few permutations to work out over the next day or so to see who Ireland might face should they need it.
“I’m not talking about it and I’m not thinking about it,” said McCarthy in relation to the back door arrangement into the tournament that Ireland will part host. “I’d prefer to get it done tomorrow.”
A small enough crowd trekked down Lansdowne Road last Thursday to watch the Boys in Green take on New Zealand but it will be a different affair on Monday night with an expectant crowed filling the Aviva Stadium.
“To think because we beat New Zealand on Thursday night and scored three goals, that we can go gung-ho and beat the Danes, that is just not in my thinking.
“The crowd are hoping we play well, that we give them a performance and that we win. I have no doubt they will turn up and support us like they always do. They will support us more if we play well and win. They will enjoy that more. It is what we want to produce for them.”