World Cup qualifiers: Republic of Ireland head to Copenhagen for first leg showdown with Denmark

The Republic of Ireland are looking to qualify for their first World Cup since 2002 on Saturday, travelling to Copenhagen to face Denmark.

The Danes, who have failed to make the cut at the last two major championships, will offer fierce opposition, however, and with only one ticket to Russia up for grabs, both sides will look to take away a crucial first leg advantage.

Martin O’Neill’s Republic of Ireland will be without the banned David Meyler and his fellow midfielder James McCarthy, who withdrew from the match due to a hamstring injury.

This will likely leave Glenn Whelan with the daunting task of containing Denmark’s world class playmaker Christian Eriksen.

Eriksen is a potent threat for Denmark and keeping the Tottenham man quiet is key for Irish hopes.

The Spurs midfielder was said to be “as important to Denmark as Gareth Bale is to Wales” by O’Neill.

The Republic of Ireland manager said: “He’s certainly of that ilk. Bale is, if you’re talking about Messi and Ronaldo being the two outstanding players in the world, then Bale is in that little group behind them of Hazard, Suarez… Neymar.

“Eriksen in the last year, for club and country, has put himself into that category.”

Denmark have lost just one of their last eight home games, although Ireland have looked good on the road.

They are six places behind the Danes in the world rankings, so O’Neill believes victory in the play-offs would be up there with his greatest managerial achievements.
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