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Denmark's Eriksen: 'Now is our chance... we have to take it'

Posted on 11 November 2017  - 10:18

Christian Eriksen got a taste for the World Cup back in 2010 as an 18-year-old starlet – now he wants to go back as one of Denmark’s leading lights.

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The crafty midfielder was the youngest player at the tournament in South Africa seven years ago, picking up group stage experience against the Netherlands and Japan, having only been capped three times before that.

Sadly for the now 25-year-old, those would be the only opportunities he’d get on the world stage. Eliminated without reaching the knockouts in 2010, Denmark didn’t even qualify in 2014.

But now, he’s got another chance. On target in each of Denmark’s last six games, Christian has been hugely influential in his nation’s bid to reach next summer’s finals in Russia.

A stunning 4-0 win over Poland on September 1 in which he scored one and assisted the other three gave their qualifying campaign a massive shot in the arm and they’ve since gone on to secure a coveted play-off spot, leaving them one two-legged tie against Republic of Ireland away from a return to the promised land.

The first leg against the Irish takes place in Copenhagen tonight (Saturday) and Christian has one goal clearly in mind: “I’ve been to the World Cup once already but I want to go again, to feel what it is,” he said.

“I’m a bit older than the last time and a bit more experienced so I want to go back on the biggest stage there is. I go into the game (against Republic of Ireland) with a lot of confidence in a national team shirt and I think the whole team will do the same.

“We’ve had a very good period with some very good games. The last game against Romania (1-1 draw in October) was tough but still we have the points we needed to get to the play-offs so I think the whole team goes into the tie with a lot of belief.”

Whatever happens this evening, the two sides will give it one last push when they reconvene for the second leg in Dublin on Tuesday night. So what does Christian make of playing at home first?

“Both of the games are obviously very, very important,” he said. “We start at home which could maybe give us an advantage, but we know the second game is likely to be even tougher than the first one because it’s in front of their fans.

“Every game will be the same, though. It doesn’t really matter if we’re playing home or away, we need to win and build. Republic of Ireland will be a very, very tough opponent but it’s a play-off so anything can happen.

“Everybody wants to go to the World Cup, I definitely do, so now is the chance to get there – to overcome Republic of Ireland in two games. We have to do that.”