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Aaron Mooy vs Christian Eriksen: The battle to decide Australia's World Cup clash with Denmark

04:57 EAT 21/06/2018
Mooy Eriksen split
The Premier League playmakers get set to meet in Samara and their delivery from set-pieces could prove to be decisive

Denmark face Australia in their second World Cup Group C game on Thursday, with the match’s decisive battle likely to be between Christian Eriksen and Aaron Mooy.

The Danes opened their World Cup account with a 1-0 win over Peru, with the winning goal orchestrated by Eriksen, who set up Yussuf Poulsen to score following a counter-attack.

Australia, meanwhile, battled hard against France and were unlucky to lose 2-1 with the winner coming in the 80th minute via a deflected goal.

Mooy was the Socceroos’ main man in the middle of the park and he was at the heart of all their best moments going forward through his deliveries into the danger area.

Ahead of the two Premier League performers meeting in Samara, Mooy acknowledged the threat Eriksen will pose to Australia’s chances in what is a must-win game for Bert van Marwijk’s side.

"He's an excellent player, he's had a great season and is probably their most dangerous player,” Mooy said.

“We need to stop the supply going to him, but we need to do that as a team."

Both schemers headed to Russia on the back of a domestic season in which they were looked upon as the chief creator for their respective clubs. Eriksen created 95 opportunities for his Tottenham team-mates, while Mooy created 50 chances for Huddersfield.

Dead-ball situations could provide a fruitful source of chances in Samara, with Eriksen and Mooy boasting impressive figures from the 2017-18 Premier League season.

Eriksen’s crossing and corner accuracy stood at 23.21 per cent, while Mooy’s was 20.43 per cent. In their respective opening World Cup games, they both took charge of free-kicks and corners, and they are capable of putting defences under pressure with their delivery.

It is not just set-pieces where opposing teams have to watch out for their delivery, but crosses from open play too, with Mooy’s 14.1% accuracy putting him ahead of Eriksen in this department, with the Dane on 11.9%.

Accurate, dangerous deliveries into the box could be particularly crucial for Australia, if 38-year-old Tim Cahill is given the nod to play some part in the game.

PL Stats (17/18) Aaron Mooy Christian Eriksen
Games Played 36 37
Goals 4 10
Assists 3 10
Chances Created 50 95
Passing Accuracy 79.55% 82.37%
Crosses/Corner Accuracy 20.43% 23.21%
Crossing from open play accuracy 14.1% 11.9%
Shot Conversion Rate 28.57% 16.67%
Touches in opponents' box 29 97

Former Socceroo Stan Lazaridis wants to see Cahill start against Denmark and outlined the best way to bring the best out of the ex-Everton star.

"He knows where to be,” Lazaridis told Goal .

“He's not going to get the ball from the halfway line and take players on, he's relying on crosses and I think Denmark are the right team to play against so, if you get him service in that 18-yard box, I still think he's good enough to score a goal.”

While there is a significant gulf between Eriksen and Mooy’s respective clubs in the Premier League, the gap in quality is much narrower between Denmark and Australia.

Both will be expected to spearhead their national teams’ push for a last 16 spot at the World Cup in what is likely to be an intensely-fought encounter.

There is very little to separate the pair when it comes to crossing and set-piece accuracy, so making the most of these fine margins could determine whether Denmark or Australia will head into matchday three with the best chance of reaching the World Cup knockout stages.