Early Doors

Why Denmark-England will be great

Early Doors

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The case against these midweek friendlies is so easy to make, it is hard to find anyone outside FA HQ or Christine Bleakley's sofa who thinks England's game against Denmark tonight is worth playing.

So, having spent years dumping all over international football, ED is going to perform a massive volte face and - just for the devil of it - search for reasons why the match deserves two hours of your attention.

1- Denmark are the Brazil of Europe

Since Morten Olsen took the helm in 2000, no European team has played more attacking, fluid and ambitious football than the Danes. Yes, that includes you and your 1-0 wins, Spain. They're not great at the back, but they are always worth watching. England's three games against Olsen's Denmark have produced 13 goals, including 10 in two friendlies. Denmark come to play, and ED predicts a tough night for Joleon Lescott.

2- Nicklas Bendtner

It has been quite a few days for Bendtner. Last week it was revealed he literally scored off the charts on a self-confidence test administered by Arsenal - ED loved the quote from psychologist Jacques Crevoisier: When Bendtner misses a chance, he is always genuinely convinced that it wasn't his fault. Yesterday he was roundly slammed on these pages for suggesting he is worth his £50,000-a-week pay packet because he doesn't get to go skiing (although a look at the quotes reveals he didn't really say anything unreasonable). Now today he is quoted as saying he is considering his future at Arsenal. There's no way he won't do something memorable - good or bad - tonight.

3- It's away

England games always seem to be more interesting away from the sterile confines of Wembley. The 2-2 draw in Amsterdam, the unexpected 2-1 win in Germany and the brutal beating at the hands of Spain all rank among the more memorable friendlies of recent years. The boisterous Parken Stadium in Copenhagen, with the roof on, should provide the right setting for a competitive game of football.

4- The injuries

When players like Steven Gerrard and Rio Ferdinand get ruled out, we normally consider it a bad thing - England below full strength. But would you rather watch Gerrard and Frank Lampard try - and fail - for the 77th time to dovetail in the same side, or would you like to see Jack Wilshere (pictured) get his first start for the senior team? Wilshere passes and tackles like Paul Scholes (he'll have someone's eye out with one of those lunges one day) and looks very much like the future of England's midfield.

5- It's football

Come on. You'll watch anything. You were tuning in when West Ham lost 1-0 to Birmingham last Sunday, so why wouldn't you watch this? Yes, it's a friendly. Yes, there will be too many substitutions. No, the result doesn't matter. But it's a game of football and it's on the telly (and this website). Isn't that enough?

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DISH OF THE DAY: ED normally leaves the restaurant recommendations to Blazin' Saddles, but if you're in Copenhagen today, get yourself down to Nyhavns Faergekro for the superb lunchtime buffet. It's in a lovely spot by the waterfront, but more importantly you will genuinely not believe how many ways there are to serve herring.

Otherwise, you could just throw caution to the wind and gorge yourself on whatever grubs and dirt they have dug out of the ground at World's Best Restaurant Noma.

- - -

At 10am on February 14, you have ED's permission to direct your attention away from this website for five minutes - although keep your browser ticking over on one of those auto-refresh cricket scorecards, if you wouldn't mind.

For that is the day that Richard Keys and Andy Gray have an emotional Valentine's Day reunion on the airwaves when their talkSPORT show starts.

You'll only need five minutes, because although the move has generated huge publicity for the commercial broadcaster, ED suspects the show itself will be rather boring.

Problem is, there is a massive disconnect between the pair's public image and what they actually say on air.

Based on the lewd, lairy comments that got them booted by Sky, people seem to be expecting to hear a cross between Top Gear and the Howard Stern show.

ED keeps seeing and hearing the phrase 'controversial presenters', but they are not. They are ordinary presenters who were involved in controversy off the air.

Keys has never been more than a competent, if strangely unappealing, front man who is unafraid to ask the obvious question - Des Lynam analyses Keys's failings superbly in this spiky Daily Telegraph column.

Gray is a good analyst, no doubt, but his (understandable, even inevitable) reliance on pictures and technical gizmos during the Sky years could leave him cut adrift on radio.

Above all, the pair were excited cheerleaders for the Premier League. Nothing wrong with that either side of a live football match, but ED does not know of anyone for whom 'The Last Word' was appointment viewing.

Unless Keys and Gray play to the gallery, revelling in all manner of artificially boorish behaviour, ED doesn't imagine their radio show doing much to excite talkSPORT audiences.

- - -

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "It is an easy thing to say when you fail in a World Cup that the players don't care. Of course we care, we just didn't win." ED hates it when Frank Lampard talks sense.

FOREIGN VIEW: Everyone is terribly excited about the clash between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in tonight's Argentina v Portugal game.

Messi gave Ronaldo a thorough schooling in the 5-0 'Clasico' demolition earlier this season and recently won the Ballon d'Or.

But get this - Ronaldo scored 33 goals in 35 games last season, and already has 34 in 35 this term. He might be a prima donna with creosote abs, but anyone who thinks he isn't an incredible footballer is out of their mind.

COMING UP: Getcha luvvly friendlies! Live minute-by-minute commentary of Denmark v England, Scotland v Northern Ireland, Germany v Italy, France v Brazil, and Argentina v Portugal plus live scoring of all the rest. Sorted.

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