Weblog: The football punter

Pressure could increase on Martin O'Neill

Nations League
Sky Sports Main Event, 7.45pm Monday

Ireland manager Martin O'Neill has presided over just one victory in eight games since signing a two-year extension to his contract in January and the pressure on his shoulders is set to increase with a poor result against Denmark in Aarhus.

Nominally the match is a competitive fixture although the placings in the Nations League were decided on Friday when Denmark defeated Wales 2-1 in Cardiff, lifting them to the top of the table.

Ireland are guaranteed to finish bottom, meaning they will be seeded third in the Euro 2020 qualifying draw, and O'Neill has suggested he may experiment a little as he looks ahead to that campaign.

However, he needs to be careful because a heavy defeat would increase calls for a change of leadership.

In fairness to O'Neill there is only so much he can do with a group of players so obviously lacking in quality.

Mindful of criticism over the team's style of play, O'Neill instructed his players to play more of a patient game in Thursday's Dublin friendly against Northern Ireland.

The change in emphasis didn't suit the players and Ireland were lucky to escape with a 0-0 draw after a contest dominated by the away side.

Ireland have failed to score in three consecutive internationals for the first time in six years and it is hard to see them finding the net against the Danes, who have kept clean sheets in all of their last six home fixtures.

Martin O'Neill's odds shorten on a swift departure from Ireland job
Denmark have had a much more productive year – following up a run to the last 16 of the World Cup by winning promotion to League A in the Nations League.

They were often hard to watch at the World Cup as they focused on stout defence and waited for a moment of brilliance from attacking-midfield magician Christian Eriksen to turn games in their favour.

But they finished the tournament undefeated in regulation time and held their own against World Cup finalists France (drawing 0-0) and Croatia (drawing 1-1).

If you are concerned about your gambling and are worried you may have a problem, click here to find advice on how you can receive help

The reliance on Eriksen appears to be their main weakness and it was obvious how much they missed the Tottenham man when he sat out last month's 0-0 draw in Dublin.

However, others came to the fore in the win over Wales with Nicolai Jorgensen applying the finishing touch to a superb counter-attack and Martin Braithwaite slotting home the decisive second.

With top spot assured there may be a temptation for Age Hareide to tinker with his team and a couple of enforced changes are certain with goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel and midfielder Thomas Delaney suspended.

But the depleted Danes should find a route to goal at some stage and one is likely to be enough to seal victory against an Ireland side short of confidence and lacking the necessary quality to score goals at this level.

Denmark win to nil

The Football Site

Like on Facebook