France and Denmark through to knockout stage after dour 0-0 draw
By Sam Burge
France and Denmark have played out the first 0-0 draw of the 2018 World Cup, a result which sees both teams qualify for the knockout stage from group C.
With France already guaranteed a spot in the last 16 and Denmark only needing a draw to guarantee their place, both teams simply did what was required in a match that never reached any great heights.
While the French wandered comfortably through this fixture, the result is that they will now face the star-studded, if under-performing, Argentina in the first round of the knockout stage.
With Australia conceding in the 18th minute and later in the 50th minute of their match in Sochi and France not really threatening, Denmark never found themselves in any danger of missing the knockout stage.
Lots of huffing and puffing, but…..
— FIFA World Cup ???? (@FIFAWorldCup) June 26, 2018
An understrength French side took the field with the likes of Paul Pogba, Corentin Tolisso and Blaise Matuidi being rested due to yellow card trouble, but they still controlled what is best described as a dour affair.
Apart from a few early Martin Braithwaite runs into the box for Denmark it was a fairly lack lustre start to the match with both teams content to play with a slow tempo.
This lack of urgency continued throughout the first half with France maintaining possession but threats on goal were rare.
The most exciting moment came just on the stroke of half-time as France cleared a corner by Christian Eriksen. Antoine Griezmann set off and dribbledover half way only to be brought down in an attacking position.
Bizarrely the free kick wasn’t even taken and both teams were happy to walk to the rooms in a moment which symbolised the lack of desire in the match.
Denmark started the second half more positively with their marquee man in Eriksen having a free kick fumbled but regathered by French goalkeeper Steve Mandanda who was filling in for the rested Hugo Lloris.
Nabil Fekir came off the bench for France for the third time in as many matches and pressed his claims for a start in the knockout stages with two long range attempts on goal, the first hit the side netting and the second forced Kasper Schmeichel in to a diving save.
The result means France finish on top of Group C followed by Denmark, Peru and Australia.
Argentina scraped through in second place in Group D setting up a blockbuster round-of-16 match with France.
In the other crossover between the two groups, Denmark will play one of the form teams of the tournament, Croatia, which went through the group stage with three wins from three.
Crowd: 78,011 – Luzhniki Stadium
Denmark: 1 Schmeichel (gk), 4 Kjaer ©, 6 Christensen, 8 Delaney (90’), 10 Eriksen, 11 Braithwaite, 13 M. Jorgensen 14 Dalsgaard, 17 Stryger, 21 Cornelius (75’), 23 Sisto (60’)
Substitutes: 2 Krohn-Dehli, 3 Vestergaard, 5 Knudsen, 7 Kvist, 9 N. Jorgensen, 12 Dolberg (75’), 15 Fischer (60’), 16 Lossl (gk), 18 Lerager (90’), 19 Schone, 22 Ronnow (gk), 20 Poulsen (suspended)
France: 16 Mandanda (gk), 3 Kimpembe, 4 Varane ©, 7 Griezmann (68’), 8 Lemar, 9 Giroud, 11 Dembele (78’), 13 Kante, 15 Nzonzi, 19 Sidibe, 21 Hernandez (50’)
Substitutes: 1 Lloris (gk), 2 Pavard, 5 Umtiti, 6 Pogba, 10 Mbappe (78’), 12 Tolisso, 14 Matuidi, 17 Rami, 18 Fekir (68’), 20 Thauvin, 22 Mendy (50’), 23 Areola (gk)