Denmark has moved out of the group stage to the Round of 16 for the first time since 1995. This marks the third time that Denmark has made it to the Round of 16, along with making it to the Round of 16 in 1991. In 1991, Denmark reached the quarterfinals of the World Cup, which is the farthest they have ever reached.
How Denmark made it to the Round of 16
Denmark was impressive in the group stage, playing as a complete team, a feat many countries couldn’t achieve. To reach the Round of 18, their biggest threat was China; many before the World Cup started, predicted that either team could move on along with the favored England squad, but in the end, Denmark advanced out of the group stage with six points, and China failed to advance out of the group stage with three points.
Denmark vs China
Denmark ended up opening their World Cup campaign versus China, which was arguably the most important match for both sides. Based on the numbers, Denmark did have a slightly better match. Denmark retained 56 percent of possession, and overall had 13 shots, with two on goal, a pass accuracy of 75 percent, and six corners compared to China who retained 44 percent possession, nine shots with two on goal, a pass accuracy of 68 percent, and four corners. But until the 89th minute, it seemed like the match was going to end in a 0-0 draw.
In the 89th minute, Denmark was awarded a corner kick, which Pernille Harder stepped up to take and was able to direct the ball to the back post where Amalie Vangsgaard was able to head it into the goal, putting Denmark up 1-0. While China had a chance to equalize in the 90+5 minute, they failed to score, so Denmark walked away from the match with the win. This was an important win for Denmark because, in the end, this truly was the deciding game of who would move on between Denmark and China.
Denmark vs England
Denmark then faced the favorite to win Group D, England. England got off to a fast start and Lauren James scored in the 6th minute, but Denmark did not let that early goal let them fall apart. Denmark held the England squad and did not allow them to score any more goals. Even though Denmark failed to equalize, Denmark played an impressive game only allowing one goal. This performance by the Danish team showed everyone else that they can compete with the top teams.
Denmark vs Haiti
In Denmark’s third match, they were looking straight down the tunnel to advance to the Round of 16. To advance, Denmark needed China to lose or draw to England, and Denmark had to either win or draw to Haiti. While Denmark needed to essentially win, the odds were in their favor since they were playing Haiti, a team that had lost to both China and England. England also helped Denmark advance by defeating China 6-1.
Denmark dominated their match against Haiti. Pernille Harder was the player to open up scoring after converting a penalty kick which was awarded to the team after Haitian player Dayana Pierre-Louis was called on a handball inside the box. Until the 90+10 minute, no goals were officially scored, until Sanne Troelsgaard scored off a through ball from Mille Gejl. Denmark did end up winning this match 2-0, but it could have easily been 4-0 if VAR did not rule out goals in the sixth minute and the 85th minute. This win ensured that Denmark will move on to the Round of 16, which is where they will face the remaining host country of Australia.
Denmark vs Australia Preview: What does Denmark have to do to move on
During the group stage, Australia was without their star player and captain Sam Kerr. Without Kerr, multiple players had to step up, including Hayley Raso and Mary Fowler in the deciding game of who would move on against Canada. With Kerr possibly being back, and players stepping up to the plate, Australia is going to be difficult to beat. For Denmark to succeed, they are going to have to shut down the Australian offense and hold possession over the Australians. Another key point for Denmark to succeed is to distribute balls to Sanne Troelsgaard and Pernille Harder in the offensive zones and to continue to substitute Amalie Vangsgaard in the second half to break through the Australian defense. With how wild this World Cup has been, it is truly either team's match to win and both squads have the skills and team chemistry to do so.
Denmark takes on Australia at Stadium Australia on Monday, August 7th at 6:30 AM EST.