For Italy, World Cup qualifying has essentially come to the close, as the Azzurri have already won Group B and booked their trip to Brazil this summer.
But for Denmark, it's all on the line, as the country is currently in third place, trailing Bulgaria by one point with two games to go. Facing Italy with the hopes of sneaking into the play-off round of qualifying is no easy task for the Danes, but they'll certainly prefer their chances at home.
Italy won the first meeting between these teams in group play, 3-1.
When: Friday, October 11 at 2:15 p.m. EDT (7:15 p.m. BST)
Where: Parken, Copenhagen, Denmark
Watch: RAI Internazionale
On Wednesday, Mario Balotelli, Lorenzo Insigne and Marco Verratti were reportedly doubtful to play in this contest, potentially a big blow for the Azzurri. Italy's squad has plenty of depth, but a road trip against a tough team with virtually nothing to gain by winning was already going to be a tough test for the Italians.
Losing several players to injury for the contest won't help.
The Danes have some talent, with Daniel Agger, Christian Eriksen and the return of Nicklas Bendtner—who always seems to offer more for country than club—all available. They will also have to hope the Italians come out bored, because anything less than a win in this contest will seriously jeopardize their shot at reaching the playoff round.
Of course, even with Bendtner back, it all still hinges on the play of Eriksen, the Tottenham man and creative engine of this team. If Eriksen can unlock the many doors the always-stingy Italian defense will place in front of him, Denmark can come away with three points.
It's hard to see Italy getting up for a road contest when they have really nothing to gain, especially against a team that has everything to gain. Denmark would be tough to beat in Copenhagen even with more at stake for the Italians.
The Danes have desperately needed a spark in the attack—and Bendtner should provide that, much to the chagrin of Arsenal fans everywhere. It won't be pretty, but Denmark will get their win.
Denmark wins, 1-0.
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