Danes call on Euro 2020 Eriksen experience for motivation in Doha

DENMARK have been here before.

The Danes face a tense, must-win game at the World Cup to make it through to the knockout stage, similar to what they needed to do at last year’s European Championship.

In fact, it was much worse at Euro 2020 when Denmark lost their first two games while the team were still trying to cope with the trauma of teammate Christian Eriksen’s cardiac arrest on the field in the first match against Finland.

All seemed lost. But Denmark beat Russia 4-1 in their final group game using Eriksen as an inspiration, qualified on goal difference, and made it all the way to the semi-finals.

“We definitely carry that with us,” Denmark forward Andreas Cornelius said after Saturday’s 1-2 loss to defending champion France at the World Cup left Denmark needing to beat Australia in the last set of Group D games to advance.

Eriksen is back with Denmark at the World Cup and playing at a major international tournament for the first time since that day in Copenhagen, when a country and much of the soccer world watched on in horror as he lay lifeless on the field. Medics used a defibrillator to restart his heart and save his life.

Cornelius was a substitute and sitting on the bench when Eriksen collapsed. While terrible at the time, that experience has molded this Denmark team and has given them the resilience they will need against an upbeat Aussie team, he said.

“Many things happened in the Euros,” Cornelius said. “The first game and all that. And then we came back and made it to the knockout games. It doesn’t really matter how you get through, just as long we get through.”

The task at the World Cup doesn’t seem as desperate. Australia, which have three points, can advance with only a draw while Denmark, with one point, need to win to have the chance to make it to the last 16. The Danes could still go out on goal difference if France is surprised by Tunisia.

And Eriksen, Denmark’s key midfield playmaker, is back with his team and ready to help.

“We had zero points in the first two games at the Euros,” Hjulmand said. “We still have hope.” — AP

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