Denmark will seek to make it two wins in a row as they take on Kazakhstan in the Euro 2024 Group H Qualifiers on Sunday.
Denmark will travel to the Astana Arena to take on minnows Kazakhstan on the second matchday of their Euro 2024 Group H qualifier on Sunday.
Kasper Hjulmand’s side won their opener 3-1 against Finland earlier this week and sit pretty at the top of the group. Another win this weekend will more or less see them retain the summit until matchday three. The same cannot be said of Kazakhstan, who lost 2-1 to Slovenia in their first game and are now playing catch up to the early trendsetters.
The loss to Slovenia was Kazakhstan’s first defeat at home in 17 months. Denmark could make it two in two for the home side but it will not be easy. Kazakhstan gave a decent performance earlier in the week and even took the lead before Slovenia came back to stun the Astana Arena.
Magomed Adiyev’s arrival has transformed the European minnow’s fortunes in recent times. They also topped their UEFA Nations League group in League C. There is no better time than now for them to carry over the momentum and secure a maiden appearance at Euro 2024.
Denmark are by and far the strongest side in the group and will be expected to secure the top spot. There is one more spot available for qualification and as long as Kazakhstan can put points on the board, they could be in with a fighting chance.
The Danes made it to the semi-final of Euro 2020 but followed it up with a winless campaign at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Hjulmand’s side will be keen to put on a better showing next year after being handed a rather favourable qualification group.
There is much at stake for both teams on the night and a win could boost either side’s chances of securing a top-two finish. The Hard Tackle takes a look at how both sides could line up on the night and what tactics they might employ.
Team News & Tactics
Словенияға есе жібердік…💔
— Kazakhstan Football Federation (@KFF_Team) March 23, 2023
Marat Bystrov limped off in the defeat to Slovenia and is not expected to make the cut for the night. Magomed Adiyev has an otherwise full squad to choose from and is expected to go along with a 5-4-1 formation on the night.
Having lost their first game, they will be keen to avoid losing two home games on the bounce. Securing points at home will be the key to their hopes of qualifying and going two games without a point is nigh on catastrophic.
Veteran goalkeeper Igor Shatsky has been handed a new lease of life under Adiyev and is today the first-choice shot-stopper. He is expected to don the gloves on the night behind a flat back five of Mikhail Gabyshev, Temirlan Erlanov, Aleksandr Marochkin, Serhiy Malyi and Yan Vorogovsky.
Kazakhstan have often shifted their rearguard to a three-centre-back partnership, allowing the full-backs to push forward. As long as the midfield does its job, the home side will not be expected to shift attacking patterns on the night.
The midfield will be keen to keep things compact in the central areas and prevent Denmark from getting the pace of the game. Aslan Darabayev and Askhat Tagybergen will be tasked with the job, while Orazov could also drift in centrally to provide a numerical advantage.
Maksim Samorodov will be tasked with providing the attacking impetus and connecting the midfield to striker Abat Aymbetov. The former scored in the opening game against Slovenia and will be keen to make a similar impact this time around.
Probable Lineup (5-4-1): Shatskiy; Gabyshev, Erlanov, Marochkin, Maliy, Vorogovskiy; Orazov, Darabaev, Tagybergen, Samorodov; Aymbetov
Denmark go into the game as heavy favourites and will be keen to rebuild their reputation after an extremely disappointing showing in Qatar. While they defeated Finland in their opener, it took a late effort from hat-trick hero Rasmus Hojlund to secure them all three points.
Barcelona star Andreas Christensen limped off in the win over Finland and is a major doubt for the game. Victor Nelsson is likely to take his place in the starting XI as Hjulmand looks set to deploy his team in a 4-3-1-2 formation.
Andreas Christensen will be out, at the very least, for 3 weeks. Barça do not understand why the Danish national team forced him, knowing that he was coming from discomfort and has played a lot recently.
— Barça Universal (@BarcaUniversal) March 25, 2023
Veteran goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel will start between the sticks behind the back four of Alexander Bah, Simon Kjaer, Victor Nelsson and Joakim Maehle. A lot will depend on how Nelsson plays alongside Kjaer as Finland did cause Denmark some trouble earlier in the week.
Tottenham Hotspur star Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg is a walk-in as far as the midfield goes and is likely to be partnered with Christian Norgaard and Mathias Jensen. The trio should provide the muscle and energy needed to establish control in the middle of the park and set the pace of the game.
This will also free up Mikkel Damsgaard to sow chaos upfield and provide service to Jonas Wind and Rasmus Hojlund. The latter will be keen to add to his tally and assert his position as the nation’s go-to goal-getter.
Probable Lineup (4-3-1-2): Schmeichel; Bah, Kjaer, Nelsson, Maehle; Hojbjerg, Norgaard, Jensen; Damsgaard; Wind, Hojlund
- Denmark have qualified for two consecutive major international tournaments just once in their history.
- Kazakhstan have never qualified for a major international tournament since the split from the Soviet Union.
- Kazakhstan have lost just one game at home in the last 17 months.
- Denmark and Kazakhstan have played each other four times so far, with the former winning all four clashes.
Player to Watch
The 20-year-old did not just break his goal-scoring duck against Finland, but went on to bag himself a hat-trick. He also wasted several chances and could have had more if he had his shooting boots on. But that display would have added to the growing list of suitors.
With Mikkel Daamsgard in tow, the youngster will have enough opportunities to make life difficult for the Kazakhi defence on the night. The Astana Arena is not an easy play to go to. And how well Hojlund performs on the night could determine the trajectory his career takes in the coming months.
Kazakhstan 1-2 Denmark
Kazakhstan are likely to start with more energy, given the home support and should initially take the game to their opponents. The visitors, however, have the better squad of players and should see their midfield gain control of the game sooner rather than later. While it might not be easy, Denmark should come away with all three points to their name.