Denmark v Sweden, 2010 World Cup qualifier, October 10, 2009
It’s impossible to think about Saturday’s crucial 2010 World Cup qualifier between Scandinavian neighbours Denmark and Sweden without referring to the nations’ incredible meeting back in 2007.
The setting was a qualifier for Euro 2008, and what transpired will remain in football conscience for many years to come.
After a blistering start, Sweden led 3â€“nil after just 26 minutes only for Denmark to come back from the dead to level at 3-all heading into the final stages. Then, in the 89th minute, Danish hardman Christian Poulsen was spotted thumping Sweden’s Markus Rosenberg in the stomach, the striker hit the deck and, after a short consultation with his linesman, referee Fandel sent off Poulsen and awarded Sweden a penalty.
That spot kick was never taken though.
Seconds after the referee made his decision, an infamous Danish fan jumped over the advertising hoarding onto the field, where he attempted to assault the man in black only to be stopped Danish defender Michael Gravgaard. Once foiled, the spectator slinked off back into the crowd, but by then the damage was done as the match was abandoned and later awarded as a 3-nil victory to the Swedes.
The incident can be relived here.
While the 2007 fan attack was undoubtedly a freak occurrence, the incident highlighted the raw tensions between the historical warring Nordic brothers.
Shuffling forward to the present, Saturday’s night fixture could hardly be any bigger. The Danes currently hold all the aces, leading Group 1 with a three point buffer over the second-placed Swedes, meaning Morten Olsen’s charges will secure a spot at South Africa 2010 with a win. Sweden, who still habour automatic qualification hopes, also have to face up to a possible fight-to-the-death to hang onto second spot with Hungary and Portugal hot on their heels.
Denmark have called up FC Groningen’s previously uncapped midfielder Thomas Enevoldsen for the match while Brondby forward Morten Rasmussen has also been drafted into the squad after Soren Rieks withdrew with injury. Elsewhere, and far more importantly for the Danes, Liverpool’s Daniel Agger returns to national duty after back surgery to partner the excellent Simon Kjaer at the heart of the backline, while there is also a recall for Werder Bremen’s experienced midfielder Daniel Jensen.
Fans of English football will also recognise a host of other players in the Danish team. Dennis Rommedahl (ex-Charlton), Jesper Gronkjaer (ex-Chelsea) and Jon Dahl Tomasson (ex-Newcastle) will all be familiar names to followers of the Premier League. Further, Stoke City’s Thomas Sorensen will stand between the sticks and the nation’s star player, Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner, will be expected to produce the goods up top after his recent excellent form.
Up against it, Sweden’s coach Lars Lagerback has shown the country’s lack of fresh ideas by recalling veteran striker Henrik Larsson ahead of the last two crucial qualifiers against Denmark and Albania. Larsson will offer extra options to the likely striking-partnership of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcus Berg after the pair failed to spark in the 1-nil win in Malta last time out.
OtherÂ Swedish players to watch out for include FC Groningen’s assured and composed defender Andreas Granqvist, Rasmus Elm (Kalmar) will be expected to pull the strings in the middle of the park, while after impressing the Champions League with FC Zurich, Dusan Djuric will offer some magic down the left hand side.
101predicts: Denmark 4 – Sweden 2Â (80/1)
Full match odds here.