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Sunday, 16 December, 2018

World Cup new boys Panama can make their mark against Danes

Christian Eriksen in fine form for club and country

Denmark's Christian Eriksen scored a hat-trick against Ireland
1 of 1

International friendly
7pm Thursday

Panama are the only newcomers taking their place at the World Cup and, like a 16-year-old in the run-up to their GCSEs, they look to be intent on cramming in as much education as possible in preparation for the tournament.

Their recent 1-1 draw with Euro 2016 semi-finalists Wales would have provided them with some confidence as they broke new ground playing European opposition for the first time.

Games against such teams have plainly been highlighted as a potential weakness as Thursday's friendly against Denmark will be followed by games against Switzerland, Northern Ireland and Norway before their first Group G game against Belgium in Sochi on June 18.

But they still have a decent chance of doing well against the Danes and as manager Hernan Gomez has no notable absentees in his squad, he will surely take the opportunity to field a strong team in Brondby against a nation who are matched with Peru, Australia and France in Group C.

After failing to book their place for Brazil four years ago, Denmark made sure they made the finals by beating Ireland in the playoffs, mainly thanks to a hat-trick from Christian Eriksen.

The Tottenham midfielder has been in inspired form for his club for much of the season, but his team are weakened by the absence of Ajax striker Kasper Dolberg and manager Age Hareide may have to shuffle the pack in defence with Andreas Bjelland and Jannick Vestergaard unavailable.

That could create opportunities for Panama to make a good impression and while they may not have enough to thwart the Danes, who have kept a clean sheet in just four of their last 15 internationals, the visitors can at least score a goal.

Recommendation
Both teams to score
1pt 6-4 Hills


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Manager Hernan Gomez has no notable absentees in his squad and will surely take the opportunity to field a strong team in Brondby
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