Scandinavian World Cup hopes rest with Denmark  

After almost three years of qualifying matches, the initial entry of more than 200 teams has been whittled down to the 32 who will go to Qatar with hopes of winning the biggest prize in football. As far as Scandinavia was concerned, the whittling process has reduced the entrants from four to just one. The region’s World Cup hopes rest with Denmark, so let’s assess their chances – and check what happened to the other Scandinavian hopefuls.  

Good and bad news in the group draw 

Group D for Denmark – that has to be a good omen. Supporters will have been less enthusiastic to see defending champions France in the same group. In fact, there was a sense of deja-vu, as Group D contains three of the four teams in Group C at Russia 2018. Once again, Australia are in the same group, and the only difference is Tunisia instead of Peru.  

Tunisia are not to be underestimated and are likely to bring their usual band of vociferous supporters to Qatar. However, Denmark, and in particular Christian Eriksen, can expect the neutrals to be on their side after the events of Euro 2020. As for Australia, this is the fifth straight time they have qualified, but they have won one game in the last three World Cups, and it will be one of the major shocks of Qatar 2022 if they finish anywhere other than fourth in the group.  

Quarter final aspirations 

Denmark will be looking to do more than just qualify for the knockout stages, however. It’s been 24 years since they made the quarter finals in France 98, but that will be their target and according to the latest odds for sports betting on Unibet USA are +180 favorites to make it to the quarter finals. If all goes to form and they finish runners up in Group D, that will put them against the winners of Group C – Argentina are favourites and there are definitely worse draws. Barring upsets, that will open up the possibility of a quarter final against England. 

Those who fell by the wayside 

It is unusual for Denmark to carry the entire World Cup expectations of Scandinavia on its shoulders. Sweden’s absence was one of the biggest surprises in qualifying after their impressive quarter final run four years ago. This time, Sweden put themselves under pressure with a costly slip up against Georgia in the qualifiers. That sent them down the playoff route where Poland ended their last hopes.  

It was a similar story for Norway. Erling Haaland might well be the best player in the world right now, but even he can’t do it all himself and the challenge presented by the Netherlands in particular was just too great.  

As for Finland, the heroic underdogs of Euro 2020 will have to continue to live on past glories for now. They started the qualifiers in great style, recording wins over Kazakhstan and Bosnia and Herzegovina, but being drawn in the same group as France meant a single loss to Ukraine proved fatal.