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‘Mortal sin’ not to relish England World Cup test – Denmark coach

Denmark coach Lars Sondergaard told his players on Thursday that it would be “a mortal sin” not to relish playing European champions England at the Women’s World Cup.

The teams meet in Group D on Friday and both are on course for the last 16 after winning their opening matches of the tournament in Australia and New Zealand.

England’s Lionesses failed to sparkle in beating debutants Haiti 1-0 thanks to a penalty but they are still among the favourites to deny the United States an unprecedented third title in a row.

With the majority of the Sydney crowd also likely to be behind Sarina Wiegman’s side, Sondergaard said that his team were undoubted “underdogs” against “superpower” England.

Denmark are ranked 13th in the world to England’s fourth, but he said on the eve of the match: “We hope we can spring a surprise.

“We have settled now, we have our first game under our belt, that has eased our nerves.

“There’s a World Cup every four years, you don’t get many of these opportunities in your career,” he added.

“It would be a mortal sin not to enjoy it.”

Talking to the media shortly afterwards in her own pre-match press conference, Wiegman was asked about Sondergaard’s appraisal that it was underdog versus superpower.

“Yes, I agree with that, but he wants to put us in that position too,” said Wiegman, who has told her side they must be more ruthless against Denmark than they were in the underwhelming win over Haiti.

“We’re always the team to beat, I’ve never experienced anything else,” she added.

Defender Lucy Bronze said that England were particularly wary of Denmark’s versatile captain Pernille Harder, who spent three years with Chelsea before recently moving to Bayern Munich.

“She’s got that quality on the ball that not many players in the world possess,” said Bronze.

“We’ve seen it in the past few years — she’s been one of the best players in the world, not just for Chelsea but also when she played at Wolfsburg and for Denmark.

“She’s a top player, but equally we’ve got many of those in our England side as well.”

The 30-year-old Harder hopes that intricate knowledge of the opposition will give the Danes an advantage.

Half a dozen of the Danish team play in England and Harder knows many of the Lionesses well from her Chelsea days.

In contrast, she said that they knew almost nothing about China, who they defeated 1-0 with an 89th-minute winner to start their World Cup.

“We will do everything we can to make it difficult for England,” she said.

“Maybe they had a bad start, but we know that they can come to the next game and be amazing.”

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