Denmark v England: Changes to stifle goal threat

With changes aplenty expected when Denmark face England in the Nations League on Tuesday, Andy Schooler is going low on goals...

Denmark v England
Tuesday September 8, 19:45
Live Sky Sports Football/Main Event

Raheem Sterling

Those who expected goals (yes, they included me) when England travelled to Iceland at the weekend were left sadly disappointed.

In many ways, the match unfolded as expected. England dominated possession against weakened opponents - even when the hosts went down to 10 men - but the difference to their Euros qualifying campaign was the lack of cutting edge.

All change for England

They struggled to break down a dogged Iceland defence, failing to move the ball quickly enough to break their hosts down. Gareth Southgate was among those to put that down to a lack of sharpness.

That said, it could all have been so different had Harry Kane's goal not been wrongly disallowed in the early stages - Iceland would surely have had to be more positive from that position.

Ultimately England still won the game but there was certainly an amount of good fortune involved in their 1-0 success.

The question for punters now if whether or not to stick by them - it's a rare sight to see them at 2.10 to win a match these days.

In normal circumstances, I'd snap that price up but given this international window has effectively come in pre-season it's difficult to take too strong a view.

Southgate will make plenty of changes, that seems certain. Some promises may well have been made to Premier League managers with the new season beginning four days after this match.

Given the need to rotate - "we are going to need energy for sure at this stage of the season - that's going to be as critical as anything" - and the fact that Kyle Walker is suspended, a return to a back three is being touted.

The call-ups of Conor Coady and Ainsley Maitland-Niles (used to playing as a wing-back at Arsenal) any weight to this theory, despite Southgate ditching such a formation after the 2018 World Cup.

Rare loss for Danes

With Denmark - 4.00 for victory - going with a front three during their 2-0 home defeat to Belgium, this could fit with Southgate's comment about deciding "what's the best tactical approach to the game".

The Danes' loss was their first in 35 games (if you ignore the defeat suffered during their player strike of 2018) which shows how tough they have been to beat. It would have been closer on Saturday too but for a couple of defensive lapses, one from a corner.

During the 2018 World Cup, they held both finalists in France and Croatia, exiting to the latter on penalties.

However, Saturday's home defeat to the world's top-ranked side began a new era with Kasper Hjulmand their new manager.

While they had more possession and corners than their visitors, they managed just one shot on target - that a long-range effort from Christian Eriksen, who, unsurprisingly given his game-time at Inter Milan, looked far from sharp in midfield.

New Spurs man Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg also failed to shine in his defensive-midfield role - an area England could exploit if they manage to return to their fast-paced play.

That is, of course, if Hojbjerg lines up. Hjulmand has also hinted at making several changes.
Eriksen also spoke after the game about how "the whole team has to get used to how he (Hjulmand) wants us to play".

Disjointed game looks likely

Essentially with so much change in both camps expected, this could be a disjointed game given the unfamiliarity in both personnel and tactics.

Going low on goals could therefore be the best way to approach the contest.

The 2.5 goal line is pretty much a pick 'em with the unders at 1.94 the more tempting given the situation.

That's landed in 12 of Denmark's last 17 competitive games - 12 of 15 if you take out the two matches with minnows Gibraltar.

As pointed out in my preview of the Iceland game, England's recent stats head the other way, yet they haven't faced a side in the top 20 of the FIFA rankings since last summer's Nations League finals. And there they had two under-2.5 games against Netherlands and Switzerland.

The Swiss are currently ranked 12th, the Dutch 14th and the Danes 16th.

Any goalscorer value?

In terms of other possible bets, Eriksen is 4/1 to score at anytime which doesn't really fit in with the fact he's netted 25 goals in his last 36 internationals.

However, most of those have come against the 'lesser' European sides and, as previously stated, he wasn't as his best at the weekend.

If you do fancy the hosts, their centre forward Kasper Dolberg could be a better bet to find the net.

Playing for Nice in Ligue 1, he's one player who has had a full pre-season under his belt - the French league is well under way - and that extra sharpness could prove the difference. He's 12/5 to score and 11/2 in the first goalscorer market.

On the England side of things, a change in formation could see their wing-backs at eyecatching goal prices.

Maitland-Niles and Kieran Trippier would presumably fill such roles - they are currently 13/1 and 14/1 respectively to score at any time. The latter may also get to take free kicks.

Still, while it may be worth taking a long-shot punt on a goalscorer once the teams are known, the here and now suggests goals may well be in short supply.

And with that in mind I'll go under the 2.5 goal line, albeit to small stakes.


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