Toothless Nil-Nil Draw Sees France and Denmark Through


France and Denmark met for the final round of play in Group C with the other Group C match between Peru and Australia starting simultaneously.

France and Denmark both played it safe as both teams look ahead to the knockout rounds. (Photo Credit:

France came into the match knowing they had already booked their spot in the knock-out rounds but a win or draw over Denmark would guarantee Les Bleus of the top spot in Group C.

Because of France’s guaranteed place in the knockout rounds, Didier Deschamps rotated his squad, resting Paul Pogba, Kylian Mbappe and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. Olivier Giroud started for the first time in Russia and young Bayern Munich winger Kingsley Coman started on the wing.

Denmark came into the match on four points, second place in Group C, knowing that a draw would be enough to see them though, no matter the outcome of Australia vs Peru. If Peru could find a way to beat Australia, then Denmark would go through no matter what.

The opening fifteen minutes of the match were cagy and the pace slow, with neither team threatening the other’s final third.

In the 17th minute, a wave of Danish cheers sounded around the stadium as word came that Peru had gone a goal up on Australia early in their match. If that result held and Peru could beat Australia, then the result of Denmark vs France would be pointless.

The match opened up some after the initial 15 minutes with France beginning to dominate possession as they probed and prodded the Danish defense. This spurt of attacking intent faded quickly though and France seemed content to defend and sit deep.

After a dull first half, the match went into halftime knotted up at zeroes. Denmark failed to register a shot on goal in the first half of the match and rarely troubled the French defense in the opening 45 minutes.

Kasper Schmeichel and Mathias Jorgensen embrace after Denmark book their place in the knockout rounds. (Photo Credit:

The second half began as the first half ended with the match feeling more like a friendly than an actual World Cup match. Denmark showed greater urgency than they did in the first half and Christian Erikson began to dictate play for the Danes after a quiet first half, even having two shots in the early minutes of the second half.

In the 50th minute, the final group results were all but cemented when word came that Peru had scored a second goal against Australia in Sochi. Unless the Socceroo’s could find a way to score three goals in 40 minutes, both France and Denmark would be playing in the knockout rounds.

In the 60th minute, Age Hareide made his first substitution bringing off Pione Sisto for Viktor Fischer, significant only because the sub illustrates the philosophy of the match. Sisto was on a yellow card from a previous group stage match and would be an important player for Denmark in knockout rounds. Why risk another yellow card and a suspension when this match was essentially meaningless?

Didier Deschamps began removing his remaining stars as well. Antoine Greizmann came off for Liverpool transfer target Nabil Fekir in the 68th minute and Lucas Hernandez came off at halftime to give Manchester City defender Benjamin Mendy a half of action.

Around the 70th minute fans in attendance started to let their frustrations at the lack of competitive play be known by booing every back pass. Danish fans booed as Denmark passed backward to regroup and sarcastically cheered anytime a forward, “attacking” pass was played. This match wasn’t The Disgrace of Gijon, but it wasn’t far off. Neither team seemed interested in opening up their opponent and there seemed to be an unspoken treaty between the two sides that neither would try to draw blood. The result was the least-watchable match of the tournament.

Fans voiced their disappointment as neither side was willing to commit to any form of attacking play. (Photo Credit:

The match ended as the 2018 World Cup’s first nil-nil draw and it will be a match that no one will be eager to remember. Both teams achieved what they wanted, a place in the knockout rounds, but the competitive attitude, the football on display and the atmosphere were all poor.

So Group C petered out miserably with France topping the group and Denmark finishing second.

France will play the Group D runner up on Saturday while Denmark will play the Group D winner on Sunday.


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