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Home   /   Denmark 0-0 Tunisia: The Africans’ intensity held Denmark at bay

The cheers from the Tunisian crowd and the marks of disappointment in the faces of the Danish players summed up the context of the 2022 World Cup’s first 0-0 draw. Denmark left two points on the table after being surprised by a positive Tunisian side, who obtained a result against a team tipped to go through Group D. 

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On paper, Denmark approached the game as favourites, boasting of their ranking as World No. 10, compared to Tunisia’s low number 30 (the 25th lowest in the tournament), but reality was different and it was Tunisia who looked to play with the right intensity and started the match in assertive fashion, playing a great first-half. 

The Africans looked prepared for the game of their life and clearly did not enter with the idea to play for the draw. In fact, the Tunisians should have taken the lead early on and it took a while before the European side posed a threat. Denmark ended up having a series of late chances which could have brought the game their way, but Kasper Hjulmand will not be too pleased with the way his side played, as it was too little, too late.  

Denmark were sterile in the first half and suffered Tunisia’s intensity and runs forward, being miraculously saved by Kasper Schmeichel, who tipped over Issam Jebali’s attempt to chip him, after the Tunisian striker ran behind the defence unmarked. 

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The break helped Denmark reset and they came out more in control, as Tunisia looked to fatigue and lost their proposition going forward. However, there were more worrying signs considering how easy it was for Aissa Laidouni to run behind the defence after starting from his own half. The midfielder’s long run ended with a wasted pass across that did not reach Anis Ben Slimane as Laidouni did not back himself to go all the way. Whilst Denmark may have been saved by Tunisia’s lack of precision, these are errors which might punish you against stronger sides. 

Soon after, the Danish side took control of the game, but Kasper Dolberg and Christian Eriksen were unable to break the deadlock. The biggest chance of the match came for the subbed-on Andreas Cornelius, just minutes after coming on. The Copenhagen striker had almost an open goal to aim at, but the ball had a difficult bounce and his shot hit the post and rebounded out. Captain Simon Kjaer said in disbelief: “I still do not know how Cornelius missed that chance!”. 

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Referee decisions also went Denmark’s way, as referee Cesar Ramos wasn’t called up by VAR when Joachim Andersen appeared to hit the ball with his right arm inside the penalty area. Denmark tried until the end and again Cornelius had a shot saved, before more VAR drama in stoppage time. This time, Ramos was called up by VAR to check for a potential handball in Tunisia’s penalty area but decided not to give a penalty after the ball bounced off Yassine Meriah’s thigh before hitting the arm. 

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This meant it was Denmark’s fourth consecutive draw at the World Cup and only the second time they failed to win their opening match, with the previous occasion being in 2010, when a defeat to the Netherlands anticipated their early exit. Their result leaves all to play for against France and Australia, both of whom they faced in 2018, clinching two draws. After the success at Euro 2020, Denmark will hope to at least make it out of the group stages. 

For Tunisia it is a more positive result, as the African side have never qualified out of a World Cup group stage, despite five attempts. However, this accounts for their first clean sheet since 1978 in a 0-0 draw against West Germany. Tunisia haven’t played either side in more than a decade

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The 0-0 was the first game of the 2022 World Cup not to see a goal scored and also to finish before minute 100. In 2018, the only 0-0 of the tournament also featured Denmark in, when the Danish side played France in the group stages. 

Denmark’s next group game will be against France on Saturday at 4pm GMT time. It is a team they beat twice already in 2022, with wins in the Nations League 2-0 at home and 2-1 away. However, after France’s stunning win against Australia it becomes crucial to score points and avoid reaching the last game with a foot out of the competition and needing a win against the Socceroos. Whilst Denmark may have beaten France twice, the odds will be against them, as Didier Deschamps’ team are considered among the absolute favourites to win the tournament. 

Tunisia may approach the next game with a slight advantage, as they face Australia also on Saturday, November, 26 at 10am. This draw will give them confidence and a potential win against Australia might mean a lot for their qualification chances. 

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May 2024