If a fairy godmother had come to Kasper Hjulmand before the game in the 974 container stadium in Doha, he would have had at least one sporting wish relatively quickly: a second player with the stature of Christian Eriksen. The man with number 10 in Denmark's team is irreplaceable for the coach.
"I would like to clone him. I'd like to have him in the back of my own penalty area and in front of the other goal," said the former Mainz 05 Bundesliga coach ahead of the second group game against France. "On my first day as national coach, I said the same thing as my predecessor Age Hareide and his predecessor Morten Olsen: Christian is the heart of this team," Hjulmand continued.
The problem: The heart also had it really bad with the heart. Eriksen, 30, suffered a cardiac arrest in last year's Euro 2021 match against Finland on June 12, but has since continued his career with a pacemaker. He later had to leave his club Inter Milan because the continuation of his career in Italy had failed due to the statutes that forbid professional athletes with such previous injuries from continuing to do their job. But first he found a new club in Brentford FC, and last summer the highly talented midfielder was even signed by English record champions Manchester United.
It was, however, a small miracle that Eriksen would even be able to return to his former level after the dramatic scenes at the Copenhagen stadium 17 months ago. Against France he played his 119th game for his home country. However, the fact that it was not enough to win against the world champion after the 0-0 win against Tunisia at the start of the Winter World Cup in Qatar was partly due to a strong opponent around the outstanding double goalscorer Kylian Mbappé (61st, 86th ), on the other hand because an Eriksen alone is not enough.
He took the corner that Joachim Andersen extended and scored Andreas Christensen into the net to make it 1-1 (68'). But overall he was far too much on his own. Especially in attack, the playmaker received hardly any support from Andreas Cornelius or Kasper Dolberg in front of 42,860 spectators.
With just one point from two games, the Danes are now threatened with the end of the global title fights in Qatar. In the last group match against Australia (Wednesday, November 30, 4 p.m.), national coach Hjulmand's team must win to qualify for the round of 16. The small, beautiful fairy tale about Christian Eriksen may still be told.