Denmark meets Tunisia hoping to go further than the last major tournament.
Kasper Hülmand’s team successfully passed the qualifications and emerged as the most talented team in 30 years.
Christian Eriksen is also returning to major tournaments after suffering a heart attack in his team’s opening game at the European Championships last summer.
Tunisia have never progressed past the group stage of the World Cup.
So strong that Tunisia played with a tenacity that Iran lacked against England, holding out against the team with the best set piece in the game.
It was Christian Eriksen’s first appearance in international tournament football since suffering a severe heart attack during a EURO match in the summer of 2021. Now equipped with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD), he has hit the ball first for Brentford and then for Manchester United over the past nine months. .
But this is different. It was a World Cup game, something no one could ever imagine lying down with a pounding heart on the pitch at Parken Stadium, nearly dead for five minutes.
Not that there was any sympathy in that World Cup game as he came into the first corner where thousands of Tunisian fans were stationed. Boers, jeers and boos threatened to bend the steel superstructure of the new stadium.
Eriksen doesn’t mind. As he recovers from his near-death experience, he watches his teammates advance to the semifinals without him and feels torn. Of course he wanted them to be okay. But he is also jealous; how I want to be right there, in the middle of the action, taking in the vibes.
Well, there must be an atmosphere when he comes back. The Danish knot behind goal didn’t earn as much. Instead, it came from mainstream Tunisia shouting their signature “tui” chant, making them sound like they were promoting a well-known tour operator. Every single one of them was clearly desperate to call their team over the line. And, more importantly, try to weaken your opponent.
Perhaps because he was so happy to be there, Eriksen seemed the Dane least bothered by Tunisia’s incessant rumble. He plays the way he plays for United: cool, calm and calculating. Not only is he a master of set pieces (it was his attitude that caused Cornelius’ comedic misadventure) but also – and this might not be the correct technical term – the prince of stalkers. This is how he plays: stalking.
Unlike Jude Bellingham, who drives everywhere, not like N’Golo Kante, who covers every blade of grass, but always there. He was on the edge of the box when the attack started, alongside partners offering out balls, somehow knowing exactly where to position himself to take advantage.