Christian Eriksen delivers one moment of true quality in our Denmark ratings after Australia draw

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Skipper Mile Jedinak scored his second-successive penalty via the Video Assistant Referee to peg back Denmark after Christian Eriksen’s astounding opener and keep Australia alive in World Cup 2018.

The Tottenham playmaker lashed in from Nicolai Jorgensen’s delightful flick to open the scoring at Samara Arena in the seventh minute.

But the Socceroos refused to be downcast and they profited on 38 minutes after Yussuf Poulsen’s handball made it two matches in a row from which he’s been punished by the review system. Jedinak then did the business from 12 yards.

The result leaves Denmark on four points in Group C and Australia with one point. Their final pool fixtures comes on Tuesday.

Here are our Denmark ratings:

DENMARK (4-2-3-1)

Kasper Schmeichel – 6: The Leicester City’s goalkeeper’s run of international clean sheets has stopped at five matches. Sent wrong way by penalty expert Jedinak and made fine late save, denying Mathew Leckie.

Henrik Dalsgaard – 6: The Brentford right-back was given all sorts of trouble by Australia right winger Robbie Kruse. But made two quickfire blocks on Huddersfield Town’s Aaron Mooy in the second half.

Simon Kjaer – 7: The Sevilla war horse had to be sharp to snub out the waves of Socceroos attacks. The skipper’s tally of three tackles was the joint-second most for Denmark.

Andreas Christensen – 6: Left majority of the donkey’s work to his experienced partner. The Chelsea man registered an impressive 97.2-per-cent passing accuracy from 72 passes.

Jens Stryger Larsen – 6: Kept honest by the endeavor and drive of Hertha Berlin winger Mathew Leckie. Only delivered one cross, so Udinese left-back offered little attacking threat.

Lasse Schone – 5: The Ajax midfielder tried to keep it tidy in middle, but he was over run by the game Australians.

Thomas Delaney – 5: The new Borussia Dortmund signing went close with one first-half effort. Was otherwise swamped in midfield.

Yussuf Poulsen – 5: That’s two matches and two penalties given away via VAR by the RB Leipzig forward. Scored against Peru, but offered nothing this time and was hooked.

Christian Eriksen – 7: What a goal from the Tottenham playmaker. Applied a perfect, powerful connection to Jorgensen’s astute assist to make it 13 goals in his last 15 internationals. True ‘Danish Dynamite’. This was his only notable intervention.

Pione Sisto – 5: A quiet game for the emerging Celta Vigo winger. Frustration boiled over and was booked late on for dissent.

Nicolai Jorgensen – 6: Showed superhuman perception to pick out the onrushing Eriksen for Denmark’s goal. Shortly after, Feyenoord striker screwed a header wide when it looked easier to score.

SUBS

Martin Braithwaite – 6: Middlesbrough forward showed plenty of desire, but little discernible quality.

Andreas Cornelius – 5: Colossal Atalanta centre forward was starved of service.

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Jorge Sampaoli goes back to the drawing board and other Argentina v Croatia tactical battles

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Lionel Messi and Argentina will look to ignite hopes of progression from World Cup 2018’s Group D when they battle Croatia at Nizhny Novgorod Stadium on Thursday.

Here are the tactical battles:

SAMPAOLI’S SHIFTING SANDS

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There was always going to be a reaction to the Iceland stalemate.

Argentine media have reported a change of shape from a 4-2-3-1 to a 3-4-1-2 formation is imminent.

Angel Di Maria is the biggest-name casualty of this move. The 30-year-old had zero shots and dribbles during an ineffectual 74 minutes.

Veteran defensive midfielder Javier Mascherano’s need for greater legs around him should see River Plate’s Enzo Perez start instead of AC Milan’s Lucas Biglia.

MIDFIELD POSER

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Eyebrows were raised against Nigeria when boss Zlatko Dalic decided to utilise star midfielder Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic in front of the defence, a role usually left for Internazionale’s Marcelo Brozovic.

This change didn’t equate to faster ball rotation as Croatia made a stumbling – but ultimately successful – start to World Cup 2018.

Expect Brozovic to come in and keep an eye on Barcelona icon Lionel Messi. Modric will then be tasked with creative work, rather than defensive duties.

DYBALA TO BE DENIED

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A clamour is always present when Juventus forward Paulo Dybala is mentioned.

He remains an alluring figure for La Albiceleste, who are yet to see the best of a potential superstar who struck 22 times in 33 Serie A matches last term.

Sampaoli’s likely decision to play two up top should have presented opportunity. But burned by Dybala’s qualifying record of zero goals in eight games and Boca Juniors forward Cristian Pavon’s burgeoning chemistry with Messi, the former mentioned should remain on the bench.

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Marcos Acuna must rival influence of Ivan Perisic and other Argentina v Croatia key battles

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Lionel Messi and Argentina will look to ignite hopes of progression from World Cup 2018’s Group D when they battle Croatia at Nizhny Novgorod Stadium on Thursday.

Here are the key battles:

MARCOS ACUNA V IVAN PERISIC

20 06 key battles Argentina v Croatia 1

Head coach Jorge Sampaoli reportedly has a tactical shake-up planned for the clash with Croatia.

A total of four changes have been predicted, plus a move to a 3-4-1-2 formation. Sporting Lisbon winger Marcos Acuna is expected to be a beneficiary of these wide changes.

Acuna’s combined tally of nine goals or assists in the 2017/18 Primeira Liga points to his productivity for the left wing-back role.

In opposition stands one of the best pure wingers in European football. Even at 29, Perisic keeps getting better.

Best-ever statistics of 11 goals and nine assists in Serie A with Internazionale point to his danger.

LIONEL MESSI V LUKA MODRIC

20 06 key battles Argentina v Croatia 2

Superstar figures, who cross the Clasico divide, will be found in the creative hub of both sides.

Barcelona forward Messi missed a penalty in the disappointing 1-1 draw with Croatia. But he registered 11 shots, three key passes, two crosses and eight dribbles.

His past exploits mean if he puts in such numbers against Croatia, goals and assists should follow.

Real Madrid midfielder Modric succeeded where Messi failed and sunk his spot-kick in the 2-0 victory against Nigeria.

He is now expected to be freed from a deep-lying position and be the main support for centre forward Mario Mandzukic.

This should see his average statistics from the previous game rise.

GABRIEL MERCADO V DEJAN LOVREN

20 06 key battles Argentina v Croatia 3

Sampaoli is believed to have seen enough from erratic Manchester United centre-back Marcos Rojo and decided to make a change.

This should see versatile Sevilla defender Mercado move into a back three, alongside Manchester City’s Nicolas Otamendi and Ajax’s Nicolas Tagliafico.

A 2017/18 La Liga average of 2.2 tackles per game points to his tenacity.

Lovren is the star name in a Croatia backline that has conceded seven times during the last 10 matches.

The Liverpool defender cuts a dominant figure in the air, with an average of 3.6 aerials won per 2017/18 Premier League game. This compares favourably to Mercado’s 1.6 in La Liga during the same period.

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