Both teams will feel like they have to win. Denmark doesn’t want to have to go into the last game against Germany on four points – defeat to Germany and a win by Portugal against Netherlands could put Denmark potentially out on goal difference. Portugal has got to want to go into the last game knowing that a draw would put them through instead of having to win. A loss will probably end Portugal’s tournament.
Why Denmark will win
- They’ve beaten Portugal in qualifying after having finished ahead of Portugal and qualified directly from their group. They were also in the same group during World Cup 2010 qualifying – their record over these last four matches is 2-1-1. Denmark know they can win.
- In Silberbauer they have someone capable of competing defensively with Cristiano Ronaldo. He did so adequately in the group stage and will have help from Agger, Kjaer and the midfield so he’s not on an island against the best winger in the world. It will be interesting to see if Silberbauer or Poulsen start at left back. They may deal with Nani instead as Ronaldo usually plays on the left with Nani on the right.
- Denmark beat a loaded Dutch team in the first group match and controlled the second half of the game.
- Agger and Kjaer have looked good in the central defense. That gives them enough confidence to deal with Portugal and their still unsolved striker position.
Why Portugal will win
- Denmark did give up a number of chances to Robben and van Persie. While Robben is one of the best right wingers in the world, so is Nani. The difference is you also have Ronaldo to deal with on the weak side when Nani has the ball – will Jacobsen at right back be able to handle Ronaldo? Nani has scored three times against Denmark so the wing position is going to give Denmark trouble.
- They have to in order to have a chance at qualifying.
- Pepe and Bruno Alves did stifle Gomez for the most part and Bendtner shouldn’t be any different. While Eriksen should have more space and time in the middle of the park, he will find it hard to work his magic against the work rate of Meireles and Veloso. Chances will be few for Denmark.
- Ronaldo had a decent game against Germany. However, he didn’t receive the support required to open up more space for him to operate as Portugal played defensively against Germany. That will change against Denmark – expect Ronaldo to be unleashed and move to the middle a lot more. He should have switched flanks with Nani in the last game and gone against the much shorter Lahm. I believe they will be more flexible on the wings this time.
Pre-game prediction: Portugal 1 Denmark 0
Nani scores one for Portugal in a tense but offensive minded match.