Denmark, Australia Share Spoils in 1-1 World Cup Draw

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistJune 21, 2018

Denmark's midfielder Christian Eriksen (CR) tangles with Australia's midfielder Aaron Mooy (CL) during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group C football match between Denmark and Australia at the Samara Arena in Samara on June 21, 2018. (Photo by MANAN VATSYAYANA / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - NO MOBILE PUSH ALERTS/DOWNLOADS        (Photo credit should read MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images)
MANAN VATSYAYANA/Getty Images

Denmark moved one step closer to the knockout stages of the 2018 FIFA World Cup on Thursday after a draw against Australia in Group C.  

Christian Eriksen gave the Europeans the lead in the seventh minute, but Mile Jedinak tied things up from the penalty spot shortly before half-time.

The Danes previously beat Peru, while Australia lost to France. Those results gave the European sides the inside track to the round of 16, and that hasn't changed.

Here are the main takeaways from this Group C fixture.

         

Danes Right to Feel Aggrieved by VAR

For the second match in a row, Australia were involved in a video assistant referee (VAR) penalty decision, with the system determining Yussuf Poulsen handled the ball at a corner toward end of the first half.

Denmark were disappointed, and it's easy to see why. While replays showed Australia had a case, the evidence was hardly definitive, and fans continued to debate the decision on social media.

Football writer Daniel Storey thought VAR showed its weakness on Thursday:

The issue isn't that the wrong decision was made―rather, VAR overturned a debatable call without clear, definitive evidence. If the official had given the penalty only for VAR to take it away, Australia would have been right to feel aggrieved. Instead, Denmark fell victim to the system, which has worked well during the World Cup but isn't perfect.

         

Denmark Have to Do More to Make Deep World Cup Run

In a similar vein to their win over Peru, Denmark showed little going forward on Thursday, and it cost them against Australia.

Things started promisingly, with Eriksen finishing off a wonderful team move:

But almost immediately after scoring the opener, Denmark's momentum vanished. Eriksen didn't get on the ball enough and continued to underwhelm in this World Cup, but Pione Sisto's struggles are more worrying. Poulsen has a tendency to run hot and cold, but he was mostly cold against the Socceroos.

A better team than Australia would have punished the Europeans, who are close to the round of 16 but still need to get a result against France to be sure. Perhaps an outing against an elite team will wake them up in time for the knockout stages. On current form, they won't go very far.

            

Hard-Working Australia Don't Have the Creativity to Get Past Group Stage

Australia's identity has long been one of industry and athleticism. Daniel Arzani was a nice change of pace as a substitute on Thursday, but the Socceroos created most of their chances with their movement rather than with clever passing.

They still might qualify for the next round―a win over Peru in their final outing, coupled with a Danish loss against France, could do the trick―but an early exit seems more likely. If that's the outcome, it will be because they couldn't capitalise on their dominance in the second half on Thursday.

That dominance resulted in a few good shots from distance and some tense moments after crosses, but too little came after slick team moves, highlighting Australia's lack of a creative force in the attacking third.

The good news is some of Australia's brightest young talents―Panos Armenakas and Sebastian Pasquali―have made the move to Europe at a young age and are developing at a solid rate. It can only help the side in the long run to have a few of these players grow in a European environment, where an emphasis on passing is often high.

Pasquali, in particular, is in the perfect situation at Ajax―the same club that nurtured Eriksen.

           

What's Next?

Group C will conclude on Tuesday, when Denmark face France and Australia take on Peru.

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