Will anyone rival Denmark as the biggest disappointment of this tournament?

<span>Photograph: Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Images


Denmark made an impression on Mexico 86 in every way – their breathtaking football, their futuristic kit and even their team song, the jaunty earworm Re-Sepp-Ten. “We are red, we are white, we stand by side,” was the simple but memorable chorus. The comedian Jarl Friis-Mikkelsen, who wrote the lyrics, suggested a B-side to be played in the event of, say, a shocking 5-1 defeat against an inferior Spain team. The chorus was subtly different: “We are red, we are white, we are really deep in sh!te.” The DBU politely declined, but Mikkelsen’s alternative chorus has been in the Fiv … bear with us, this is going to take some time … Football Daily’s mind in the past 24 hours. Denmark, who were some folks’ dark horses to win the Human Rights World Cup, are instead on flight DO1 to Copenhagen after a miserable performance: three games, one point, one goal.

They arrived at the HR World Cup wearing a toned-down kit as a statement about Qatar’s human-rights record, but nobody expected them to produce three toned-down performances as well. Maybe it was an exceptionally subtle form of protest, eventually to be revealed in a Palme d’Or-winning mockumentary. “We don’t want to be visible during a tournament that has cost the lives of thousands of people,” said the kit manufacturer Hummel, and sadly the team took that idea and ran with it. After the Danish Dynamite glory of Euro 2020, this was the Danish Damp Squib. “We haven’t played with the right tempo and rhythm,” said coach Kasper Hjulmand after the 1-0 defeat to Australia. “The structure just went … The thing we shouldn’t do is play with emotion in a match like this, we should play with quality. But the football sucked.”

So far Denmark have been the biggest disappointment of the tournament, though that may soon change. Belgium’s angsty, ageing team meet Croatia on Thursday afternoon, knowing they will almost certainly go out unless they win, and then Germany play Costa Rica afterwards knowing that even a win might not be enough. They are likely to give a start to Niclas Füllkrug, the beefy, gap-toothed bulldozer who looks like a Hollyoaks wrong’un but is fast becoming Football Daily’s favourite player. Not bad for someone we hadn’t heard of two weeks ago.

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While Füllkrug’s time is now, Belgium’s players have been arguing over which of them is the biggest has-been. L’Equipe reported that Kevin De Bruyne’s comment about Belgium being too old to win the HRWC led to a row in the dressing-room after their defeat to Morocco. “We have some outlets in Belgium that are quite happy to jump on fake news,” sighed their coach, snake-oil entrepreneur Roberto Martínez. “That’s quite astonishing … [It is] probably a lesson for all of us – that we are here on our own and we are here to fight for what we believe is the way we want to play and hopefully the fans – the real fans – of the Red Devils can enjoy the process.” Belgium are red, Germany are white, and by Friday at least one of them could be really deep in sh!te.


Join Barry Glendenning from 3pm GMT for MBM coverage of Canada 2-0 Morocco, while Rob Smyth will be on deck for Croatia 2-2 Belgium at the same time. Then John Brewin will be your guide at 7pm GMT for Japan 1-2 Spain, when Will Magee will also be at the wheel for Costa Rica 0-2 Germany.


“We were convinced that it was over, everyone was going back to the locker room. It took a long, long time and Mr Conger, the New Zealand referee, went to consult the VAR. He was told after a very long time that there was an offside by Antoine Griezmann and that goal was therefore disallowed” – TF1 hack Grégoire Margotton explains the channel’s error after it cut away from Les Bleus’ game with Tunisia, thinking it had finished 1-1, only for the apparent last-gasp equaliser to be disallowed while they were on an ad break and with millions of viewers having switched off.


“I see those arrogant Australians also found out what happens when you flamin’ don’t focus on football. Oh, wait …” – Patrick O’Brien.

“How quaint of the crowd to boo Gianni Infantino when he appeared on the stadium big screen the other night. I suspect, like heel wrestlers and pantomime villains, Fifa executives accept these brickbats as a sign they are doing a good job” – John Lawton.

“Reading multiple reports from the HRWC about England/Wales/insert team and the need to ‘take the handbrake off’, it has me wondering: do a lot of football writers drive around with the handbrake on? Perhaps that burning smell isn’t the result of furious creativity while covering a 0-0 draw, after all” – Alex Frew McMillan.

“I bought a big telly so I could suffer England’s latest tease in style. But it’s also brought into sharp focus how badly the pitches are cutting up in the desert. Some of the £200bn spent on this folly of a football fest might’ve been better spent on the grass rather than hat-confiscating security guards” – Lindsay Williams.

Send your letters to the.boss@theguardian.com. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’ the day is … Patrick O’Brien.