FINAL: Denmark 0, France 0
The first 0-0 draw of the World Cup sees France claim Group C honors with seven points. Denmark is also into the knockout round as runner-up with five as Schmeichel claims his sixth clean sheet in the last seven matches. Though it’s not 100 percent mathematically settled, the Danes are all but certain to play Croatia on Saturday in Kazan.
Les Bleus, meanwhile, will play the Group D runner-up on Sunday in Nizhny Novogorod. They are also in the half of the draw in which the winner of their match faces the Portugal-Uruguay match in the quarterfinals.
As much as I want to do another live blog of the Iceland-Croatia game since I have adopted Strakarnir Okkar in lieu of the U.S. not being in Russia, I proved I am a jinx by live blogging the first scoreless draw of this World Cup. Therefore, I’m going to drink while watching that match. Thanks for reading along, and there will be more!
90+3 – The kickabout continues
France is kicking the ball around the perimeter looking for the perfect pass instead of the right pass. Denmark clears the ball down the field and Ricci mercifully blows the final whistle to end this contest. A point for France, a point for Denmark and both are through to the round of 16.
90 – Three minutes of injury time
The fourth official has signaled for three minutes of stoppage time, and Mbappe almost has a moment of magic as he nearly gets around three defenders before the ball is cleared from danger. Delaney, the first man Mbappe beat on the play, had to be attended to and is walking off the pitch and angry he’s being substituted for Lerager in the waning minutes.
89 – Mbappe tries a flick
Mbappe tries to flick a pass from Sidibe over his shoulder into the penalty area, but it miscues over the line for a Denmark goal kick. Points for the effort, young’en.
88 – All the whistles
The neutrals in attendance are whistling derisively because they are terrified of being the first fans to see a 0-0 draw. From a broadcasting note, it is still amusing to see people at the match started and geeked to realize they’re on television.
86 – Will there be a goal?
While you cannot say this game “has roared to life” per the Reuters cliche handbook, it certainly has picked up over the final five to 10 minutes. Whether that translates to a goal is yet to be determined.
84 – Giroud has a penalty shout
The France striker has a penalty shout as he tries to turn in the box while being defended by Kjaer and goes to the turf. Ricci is unmoved, and VAR appears to agree.
82 – Fekir shot stopped by Schmeichel
Fekir continues to be a lively presence as he tests Schmeichel with a curling short-hopped shot from 18 yards that Schmeichel has to parry away from his left post. Best shot of the game so far, thus the best save of the match as well.
81 – Lost in the non-excitement of this match
Is that if Denmark score an unlikely goal, it would win the group. Right now, another 81 minutes may be needed for the Danes to do that.
79 – Mbappe in, Dembele off
Deschamps final roll of the dice sees teenager Mbappe enter for Dembele. Giroud has a moment of ambition as he chest traps the ball and swivels to try a left-footed shot from the top of the penalty area, but it loops well over the bar.
78 – Denmark trying to build something
For the first time, Denmark has sustained possession in the France half of the pitch, and no sooner than these words are typed, the Danes lose the ball when no one runs onto Stryger’s pass forward.
75 – Dolberg in, Cornelius off
Denmark makes its second change as the youngster Dolberg enters for Cornelius.
72 – Delany hyperextends elbow, Giroud goes wide
Denmark tries to create something in the France final third, but Eriksen’s backheel pass into the penalty area gets pinged over to Delaney on the left, but a challenge by Sidibe forces an awkward landing by Delaney, whose right arm absorbs the brace of the fall. On the other end, Mendy is able to pick out Giroud with a cross from the left, but the Chelsea man can’t get enough steam on his header as it spins well wide of the right post.
70 – Fekir goes wide
Fekir has a moment of his ambition shortly after coming on, and his curling left-footed shot from 20 yards fails to get inside the left post to challenge Schmeichel as it rustles the side-netting. Still, that qualifies as a moment of excitement in this contest.
68 – Fekir in, Griezmann off
France’s second substitution sees Griezmann come off and Fekir enter. Whether this opens up space underneath Giroud to target him better remains to be seen. Meanwhile, Denmark midfielder Stryger Larsen is being attended to after Dembele threw a wicked shoulder on the sideline that sent him flying.
66 – Another half-chance for Denmark
That has been the story of the match, half-chances. Cornelius did well to shake a defender and send in a cross from the left that goes begging. Giroud takes a knock to his ankle tracking back for a challenge and is walking around gingerly. He is starting to trot and get back to full speed and may be in need of the magic spray… for his ankle, not his hair.
64 – Observation on France
While Les Bleus supporters are notoriously demanding, this match should serve notice just how much they need Paul Pogba to pull the strings in the midfield. France has done most of its work going forward on the flanks in this match, and with Denmark playing a five-man backline in addition to sitting deep, there is little to no service for Giroud like there was in the victory over Peru.
62 – Denmark corner
It’s the fourth corner for Denmark, all on the right, and Eriksen is there to whip another outswinger into the mixer. Mandana sends it out with a convincing punch and crisis averted.
60 – Fischer on, Sisto off
Denmark makes its first swap as Fischer enters for Sisto, who successfully navigated an hour while on a yellow card and will be available for the round of 16 match against the Group D winner, which is all but certain to be Croatia.
58 – Denmark try to create half-chance
Denmark is starting to ask more questions of France’s defense as Sisto’s cross trying to pick out Brathwaite is cleared. The ball pings around and finds its way to Eriksen, whose 20-yard shot is wide left, but it also likely wouldn’t have counted since Brathwaite was well offsides and would have affected the outcome if it was on frame.
55 – Meanwhile in Sochi, part II
Peru has doubled its advantage through Paolo Guerrero, which has all but ended Australia’s chances of advancing to the round of 16. Denmark can breathe easy, and perhaps go back to a four-man backline and press forward and inject some offense into this match.
54 – Denmark free kick
Cornelius earns Denmark a free kick 40 yards straight on and causes a moment of panic as Mandana spills it after it short-hops the France keeper, but the No. 2 falls on it before Cornelius can get to the rebound. That is the first shot on goal for the Danes.
52 – Griezmann should have done better
Griezmann’s dawdling prevented a potential shot from the top of the penalty as Mendy sent a pass in from the left that Giroud dummied to let it get to the Atli man.
50 — Mendy in, Hernandez out
Deschamps has made his first swap of the game, introducing Mendy at left back for Hernandez. Griezmann has another go from distance, but Schmeichel sees it all the way and slides to collect it inside the right post.
50 – Denmark’s formation decision
The decision by Denmark coach Age Hareide to go five at the back has paid dividends thus far, but it also has sacrificed much of Eriksen’s creativity because France can send multiple bodies at him to pressure and dispossess.
48 – Foul on Giroud
The second half has started almost identical to the first, with France making sure its entire backline gets a touch on the ball. Kante tries popping a cross into the penalty area, but Giroud is whistled for a foul as he and Jorgensen each have a handful of the other’s jersey as they vie for position.
Back to action
Ricci has blown his whistle, there have been no substitutions and we’re back to action. How about a goal, any goal will do here, fellas.
Players coming back on the pitch
We’re close to restarting here in Moscow, with Giroud and Lemar walking out and obviously talking about Giroud’s spectacular hair care products.
An aside, part III
Another day, another report Wayne Rooney is closer to joining MLS side D.C. United. The rate this has progressed leads me to believe Rooney has actually walked from Merseyside across the Atlantic Ocean to the nation’s capital.
HALFTIME: Denmark 0, France 0
Denmark is 45 minutes closer to qualifying after a scoreless first half in Moscow, and scoreboard watching has also been good to the Danes as Peru leads 1-0 in the other Group C match. France has had the majority of possession but failed to find link-ups in the final third to fashion a quality chance on goal. Les Bleus also have done a solid job in preventing Eriksen from finding threatening positions in open play save his half-chance in the box Mandana wiped out.
45+2 – Denmark wins late corner
Denmark claims its third corner as Eriksen’s blast from distance is deflected over the line, but the corner gets knocked down in the penalty area. Griezmann collects it at the top of the box and dashes forward like a bat out of hell, getting into the middle of Denmark’s half of the pitch before Jorgensen finally hauls him down with a professional foul that earns him a yellow card.
Ricci, however, feels stoppage time has expired during that impressive sprint and calls for halftime.
45 – Dembele sends out a souvenir
Some buildup on the right allows Dembele to come out in space on the right side, but he fails to get over the ball on his left-footed effort from 25 yards and it sails into the Danish fan section behind goal.
43 – Time to jinx this
This match currently has the feel of the first 0-0 draw of this World Cup, which is quite a statement given the attacking quality of France and Eriksen. As I’m typing this, Griezmann tried to time a diagonal run through Denmark’s back line, but Lemar hesitated a half-step and played him offsides when he hit the pass late.
39 – Griezmann has a go
Griezmann tries a shot from the right elbow of the penalty area, but Schmeichel comfortably catches the shot that comes right at him.
35 – An aside, part II
So my girlfriend became a football fan courtesy of Olivier Giroud. One Sunday morning (I live in Chicago, so matches come with breakfast) I woke up to watch an Arsenal match at her apartment, and Giroud had entered the game with his finely coiffed hair and rugged French good looks.
I’m sure my girlfriend was not the first and is not the last to notice such alluring features, but she stopped dead in her tracks and purred, “Who is that?” upon seeing Giroud fill her screen. After explaining who he was (Arsenal and France forward, handsome, handsome man, etc.), she says, “I’d climb him like a jungle gym.”
To quote John Oliver… “Cool.”
Anyway, this has now become a running gag because I will text her updates when he plays, starting the text with “Your boyfriend…” I got her an Arsenal Giroud jersey to further the joke, a jersey she never wore before he signed with Chelsea. That may be the birthday present this year.
33 – Dembele goes wide
Dembele takes a curling right-footed shot from 20 yards on the right, but Schmeichel has his far post covered well and dives without making an attempt to touch it as he knows it’s going wide of the left post.
32 – Lemar takes a stamp
It’s not the souvenir you want from Russia, but Thomas Lemar will have a nice bruise on his left ankle after having it stamped by Dalsgaard. No foul but much ouch.
29 – A near-chance for Denmark!
Denmark strike on the counter as Cornelius did well to chase down Delaney’s pass on the left sideline and carry before sending a grass-cutting cross into the penalty area. Eriksen made a lung-busting run to try and get on the ball as Mandana charged off his line late. There was contact, but Mandana appeared to get their a split-second before Eriksen, getting to the ball as Eriksen tumbled over.
27 – France in the ascendancy
France is ratcheting up the pressure as Lemar takes a good free kick from 30 yards on the left that Denmark had to concede a corner. The ensuing corner from the right is cleared out as the already large Giroud climbed Kjaer in his bid to get to the ball but failed to make contact.
24 – France handball shout
Now it’s France’s turn to appeal to Ricci for a handball in the penalty area after it appears Zanka played the ball with his hand after Sidibe tries a cross. Replays show it hit Zanka’s shoulder first in a natural position. No pen.
22 – Denmark corner
Denmark has worked out another corner as Eriksen will approach from the right. His outswinger gets headed out and pinballed around before Denmark is forced to recycle and restart its attack.
21 – An aside
If you have a Netflix account and you’re a footy fan, Sommeren ’92 is a breezy way to pass two hours re-living Denmark’s stunning 1992 run to the European Championship. The Danes originally failed to qualify for the tournament but were a last-minute after the violence in Yugoslavia earned the Balkan country a ban. There’s a couple of sub-plots, though the biggest sports takeaway was not realizing Michael Laudrup wanted no part of coach Richard Moller Nielsen, who was able to convince his brother Brian to return to the team.
19 – Peru takes lead over Australia
Meanwhile, in Sochi, Peru is helping out Denmark by grabbing an early 1-0 lead. If the results stand, Denmark would be through anyway, but the Danes now have a margin of error since Australia would remain on one point.
15 – Giroud stopped by Schmeichel for France corner
France gets the first shot on target as Schmeichel bats Giroud’s looping left shot from 15 yards angling for the upper left corner behind goal for a Les Bleus corner. Hernandez worked a 1-2 with Giroud in the left side of the penalty area. Varane met the ensuing corner kick but planted his header well wide of the right post.
11 – France out of sync early
As expected with a team that has made six changes to a starting lineup, France’s movement has been slightly off, though the teams are playing at a slower pace knowing a draw would see both teams through. Giroud has yet to get a serious touch on the ball as Denmark’s back four have done well locating the Chelsea target man.
8 – France seeking second World Cup win over Denmark
The teams have met twice previously in the World Cup, with each claiming one win. Les Bleus capped group play in 1998 with a 2-1 victory courtesy Emmanuel Petit’s goal in the 56th minute after Youri Djorkaeff and Michael Laudrup traded penalties. Four years later, France’s disastrous World Cup title defense ended with a 2-0 loss to the Danes as Dennis Rommmedahl and Jon Dahl Tomasson scored on either side of halftime.
6 – Denmark earns corner
Brathwaite is proving to be an early nuisance for Denmark as he carries into the penalty area before having Kante knock it over for a corner on the right. Eriksen’s in-swinger from the right is sent well over the bar by Kjaer, and it’s a France goal kick.
4 – Denmark with a penalty shout
Brathwaite is able to sneak into the penalty area to chase a bouncing ball, but it unable to get it under control and goes down with pressure from Kimpembe without taking a shot. Ricci is unmoved by Denmark’s penalty claims and neither is VAR.
2 – France dominates possession
Denmark just got its first actual possession of the ball as France played kickabout to get introduced to the match. The sequence ended with a Griezmann cross no one bet followed by the Atletico Madrid man fouling Sisto.
Ricci blows his whistle and we are underway in Moscow. Denmark going from left to right in traditional red with white shorts, France from right to left in white with blue shorts.
The Danes have made three changes to the starting XI that drew Australia 1-1. One was out of necessity as Yussuf Poulsen is serving a one-match ban for his yellow cards accrued in the first two matches.
The new players are Mathias Jorgensen, Andreas Cornelius and Martin Brathwaite. Braithwaite will lead the line instead of Nicolai Jorgensen while Brathwaite replaces Poulsen. Mathias Jorgensen replaces Lasse Schone.
Having already progressed to the round of 16, France manager Didier Deschamps has made six changes to his first 11. Keeper Steve Mandana defenders Samuel Umtiti, Presnel Kimpembe, midfielders Stephen N’Zonzi, Thomas Lemar and forward Ousmane Dembele will all be on the pitch at kickoff with holdovers Raphael Varane, Lucas Hernandez, N’Golo Kante, Antoine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud.
Brazil’s Sandro Ricci is the man overseeing the action at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. Varane and Simon Kjaer are the talismans for France and Denmark, respectively. And in what may be a rare collaboration between archrivals, the VAR crew is being headed by an Argentine.
Hey there! Being that I am finally awake enough to watch the early match from kickoff, I’ve decided to entertain myself (and hopefully, you, the reader) with a live blog of today’s match between France and Denmark to determine the winner of Group C.
So follow along, won’t you?