The clash of these teams is a Beckett play interpreted through what can vaguely be described as football
It’s become clear that Ireland and Denmark have had enough at this stage, not just of playing each other at football but of the other crowd in general. The countries simply do not mix.
Ireland v Denmark is (a very tiny bit) like Brad and Angelina in Mr and Mrs Smith. The idea was fine. But the chemistry was not there. And familiarity has bred contempt.
The Danes scoff at Ireland’s limited scope for football skill and imagination, which enrages us because we know it to be true. We regard the Danish obsession with bicycle transport and high-quality-of-life as sinister and even perverse. Plus, we’re still a little bitter about that whole Viking carry on. Did they ever formally apologise for all that beardy plundering and pillage and those ridiculous horned helmets?
No, there’s no love lost. The only thing the countries share in common is the obscene price of a pint of Carlsberg.
On Monday night, the football warriors of Denmark and Ireland will cross paths for the sixth time in less than two years. They have conspired to produce a series of fascinatingly terrible football games.
You can imagine football fans all across Europe scanning the fixtures and, upon seeing Ireland v Denmark, with its promise of a raw-knuckled 0-0 or unenlightened 1-1, sighing and all of a sudden feeling a bit sadder about life.
If the prospect of Manchester City versus Liverpool, say, gets the blood racing at the mere thought of Firmino and Salah in full flow or of a De Bruyne moment causing Jürgen Klopp to go berserk, then Denmark versus Ireland has the power to make the football fan question the very point of existence.
All that Ireland and Denmark can ever offer is a brutal struggle which boils down to a flushed and scowling Glenn Whelan remorselessly tracking an increasingly disheartened Christian Eriksen into oblivion.
Ireland v Denmark is a Beckett play interpreted through what can vaguely be described as football. The whistle blows, the game starts, you squint confusedly through the physical delirium in the hope of seeing the actual ball and then, many, many corners and offsides later, it ends. Usually, there is no winner or loser and very often there are no goals.