COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Familiarity has breed a healthy respect but Denmark are still setting out to win when they take on the Republic of Ireland in Dublin in a decisive Euro 2020 qualifier on Monday, midfielder Thomas Delaney said.
Denmark need only draw the game at the Aviva Stadium to book their place at next year’s European Championship and eliminate their hosts.
It will be the sixth meeting in two years between the two countries, who have drawn four of them.
The other was a startling 5-1 triumph for the Danes in Dublin almost two years to the day that ensured qualification for the World Cup in Russia.
“We hate to play Ireland at the moment, we’ve played them so much recently,” said the 28-year-old Borussia Dortmund midfielder Delaney, born in Denmark with American heritage and whose name would not took out of place in any Irish line-up.
“We know each other well, and that goes both ways, so we don’t have the upper hand in that regard.
“I don’t fear Ireland, but I have a great respect. I know it’s going to be a difficult game. It’s going to be a great atmosphere and Ireland are a team who play with their hearts on their sleeve.
“It’s cliche but it’s going to be a war. They are going to bring everything.”
Denmark beat Gibraltar 6-0 in their penultimate qualifier in Copenhagen on Friday to leave them top of Group D and one point away from a Euro 2020 berth – important for a country whose capital will be one of the tournament’s host cities.
“It’s a big advantage for us that we only need a draw but it won’t change our approach. We’ll go into the game, wanting to win,” Delaney added.
“We don’t want to be 0-0 with just 10 minutes against Ireland and facing massive pressure from them. That’s not how we’d like the game to develop.”
Confidence garnered from the 5-1 triumph will be a factor too, Delaney added.
“I’m not saying it’s going to be the same game but we know we can do it. And that will play a part,” he said.
He had previously described trying to break down Ireland’s defence like “opening a tin of beans with your hands”.
On Monday, however, the Irish must attack, likely with a long ball approach over the midfield.
“It’s another kind of cliche in football that if you control the midfield you win the game and that’s a big point for us. That’s how we controlled the game when we won 5-1. We had the upper hand in the middle and were very sharp on counter attacks,” the Dane said.
“If we get the same game plan going I’ll be happy although I’m not expecting it to be the same.”
Editing by Christian Radnedge