With less than 100 days to go until the kickoff of 2014 World Cup in Brazil, this midweek friendlies (it's an odd timing right in the middle of the busiest part of the season, but that's a topic for another day) will be all about national team coaches testing their players, tweaking their squads with minor addition, and trying out their tactics. England are no different, as they will be facing off with Denmark in Wembley tonight.
Previously in Three Lions Roar, we've already analyzed Roy Hodgson's 30-man squad that will face Denmark, now let's turn our attention to Denmark's squad. Here is the complete squad that has been named by Morten Olsen:
Goalkeepers: Stephan Andersen (Go Ahead Eagles), Jonas Lossll (Midtjylland), Kasper Schemichel (Leicester City)
Defenders: Daniel Agger (Liverpool), Peter Ankersen (Esbjerg), Andreas Bjelland (Twente), Lars Jacobsen (Copenhagen), Jesper Juelsgaard (Midtjylland), Simon Kjaer (Lille)
Midfielders: Thomas Delaney (Copenhagen), Christian Eriksen (Tottenham Hotspur), William Kvist (Fulham), Thomas Kahlenberg (Brondby), Kasper Kusk (Aalborg), Emil Larsen (Odense), Danny Olsen (AGF Aarhus), Casper Sloth (AGF Aarhus), Niki Zimling (FSV Mainz 05), Jakob Ankersen (Esbjerg)
Attackers: Nicklas Bendtner (Arsenal), Michael Krohn-Dehli (Celta Vigo), Morten Rasmussen (Midtjylland), Simon Makienok (Brondby IF)
As you can see, Morten Olsen only brought 23 players for this friendly, the fact that Denmark won't be competing in this year's World Cup is probably the reason why Olsen decided against bringing in more players, as opposed to Roy Hodgson who named a 30-man squad. There are several familiar names there for English football fans with five Denmark players based in England, additionally Lars Jacobsen and Stephan Andersen have also featured for Everton and Charlton Athletic respectively in the past.
Let's take a closer look at each English-based Denmark player and their chances of starting in tonight's game.
Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester City)
Kasper has been in English football long enough, that he have already shed the tag "Peter Schmeichel's son" having spent his entire football career in England (plus a loan spell with Falkirk in Scotland). Kasper is in his third season with Leicester City, where he joined the club after a season with Leeds United. This season, Kasper has kept 12 clean sheets in 33 games helping his side go top of the Championship, conceding nearly a goal per game. Kasper has only played twice for the senior side, the latest was in the final match of 2014 World Cup qualifiers against Malta, a 6-0 victory.
Chances of starting: 50-50. In Denmark's last two games Kasper Schmeichel and Stephan Andersen gets the nod. While Andersen is the more experienced of the two, Olsen might just pick Schmeichel who is more familiar with the English game.
Daniel Agger (Liverpool)
The national team captain, who is also a vice-captain for Liverpool following Jamie Carragher's retirement, have only played sparingly for Liverpool, with only 14 appearances in the league so far. This is mainly because of Brendan Rodgers preferring the partnership of Martin Skrtel with Mamadou Sakho or Kolo Toure in the centre of defense. Despite his limited appearances, he's had 3 defensive errors, which may partly explained his limited number of appearances. The 29 year-old defender is strong in the air, winning an average of 2.5 aerial duels per game (data from whoscored.com).
Chances of starting: Morten Olsen have named only three central defenders in his squad, the other being Simon Kjaer (likely to be his partner tonight) and Andreas Bjelland. Despite limited appearances with Liverpool, he's still the national team captain and playing with Liverpool obviously makes him more familiar to England's player (some of whom are his club mates), therefore it seems more than likely that he will lead his teammates onto the pitch tonight.
Christian Eriksen (Tottenham Hotspur)
The golden boy of Denmark's national team, Eriksen have played in the World Cup (as an 18 year-old) and European Championship. After 4 seasons with Ajax (he spend the early part of this season with Ajax, making 5 appearances) where he helped them won the Eredivisie title for three straight years, Eriksen moved to Tottenham Hotspur. He's still finding his feet in English football, playing 16 times in the league with 3 goals and 3 assists so far, a contrast to 2 goals and 3 assists in 4 appearances with Ajax. At 22, there are still plenty of time for Eriksen to develop into one of the world's best.
Chances of starting: He's Denmark best and brightest talent in midfield, should start against England tonight, possibly in a three-man midfield.
William Kvist (Fulham)
Kvist is a relative newcomer to English football, having joined Fulham last January on loan from Bundesliga side, Stuttgart. The defensive midfielder only played 12 times with Stuttgart, where he averages nearly 4 interceptions a game. So far in 3 matches with Fulham, he also averages the same amount of interceptions. It remains to be seen whether the addition of Kvist can help Fulham steer clear of the relegation zone.
Chances of starting: Among Denmark's midfielders, Kvist is the most experienced of the bunch with 44 caps (Eriksen is a close second with 42). He also played in 8 out of 10 World Cup qualifying matches for Denmark, which makes him a key player for the national team. He should start as a part of three-man midfield in order to give cover for the defender.
Nicklas Bendtner (Arsenal)
The Greatest Striker That Ever Lived has barely been called upon from the bench despite Arsenal's lack of cover for Olivier Giroud. After breaking out as a youngster while on loan at Birmingham City, Bendtner failed to nail down a consistent starting berth with Arsenal, while scoring sparingly. Before this season, Bendtner spent consecutive seasons out on loan, first with Sunderland in 2011-12 and Juventus in 2012-13. This season he's played 11 times (mostly from the bench) scoring two goals. He's likely to leave Arsenal following the expiration of his contract this season.
Chances of starting: Having only made 1 appearance in 2014, Bendtner is still likely to be preferred by Morten Olsen to lead the attacking line. Why? Well, 24 goals in 56 appearances for the national team is a decent return for someone who never scored more than 15 goals in a season. Plus the other strikers in the team, Rasmussen and Makienok are local-based players who only have 6 caps each for the national team.
Viktor Fischer (Ajax) & Lasse Schone (Ajax)
Both players have been a key part of Ajax's quest for a 4th straight Eredivisie title. Fischer have played 34 times and scoring 7 goals playing in the left side of a three-man attack. Schone, playing on the opposite side is not your typical right winger, having been originally a central midfielder. Despite that, he's contributed with 7 goals and 5 assists for Ajax this season. Both players have recently picked up an injury in the league, hence their exclusion from Olsen's squad.
Jores Okore & Nicklas Helenius (Aston Villa)
Having only joined Aston Villa last summer from FC Nordsjaelland, the central defender ruptured his ACL against Newcastle on 14th September that will sidelined him for the rest of the season.
Meanwhile, Helenius have only played three times with Aston Villa in the league, all as a substitute, scoring zero goals. It remains to be seen whether he's going to be a part of Rickie Lambert's plan in the future. Speaking of misfiring Denmark striker..
Andreas Cornelius (
FC Copenhagen Cardiff City FC Copenhagen)
Cornelius played for FC Copenhagen last season making 34 appearances and scoring 18 goals, which earned him a transfer to Cardiff City in the summer of 2013. Eight appearances and zero goals later, he's now back with Copenhagen, scoring a goal in two games so far.