Christian Eriksen says he is "enjoying the moment" at Brentford, but refused to commit to his next steps ahead of a reunion with former club Tottenham on Saturday.

The Denmark international will face his old club for the first time since he linked up with the Bees in January, a move which came seven months after his cardiac arrest at Euro 2020.

The playmaker has defied expectations to make a full return to football after his collapse in Copenhagen last summer, and has been at the heart of Brentford's revival since arriving. 

He will reunite with Spurs for the first time since he left for Inter in 2020 this weekend, as well as with former Nerazzurri boss Antonio Conte.

Those close links have fuelled speculation he could return to his former North London home at the conclusion of the season, but for now, Eriksen is focused on enjoying his time with the Bees.

"When I signed here in January, it was actually [about] coming back and showing I was a football player and could play football," he told Sky Sports ahead of the Bees' clash with Spurs.

"There was also the six months of a test trial. By now, it feels good. But for the future, I don't know.

"I'm just enjoying the moment, every game is really fun to play in. What happens in the summer will be a decision for me as a footballer and as a family man.

"Everything is open. I've been taken good care of at Brentford, they've really shown me a lot of love and [I'm] trying to repay them for what they've showed me.

"Every option is open, either at Brentford or anywhere else."

Spurs captain Hugo Lloris, meanwhile, says his side are looking forward to seeing their old team-mate, who helped them to the 2019 Champions League Final during his time with the club.

"After what happened to him, it's always nice to see an ex-team-mate but even more, a player who was special for the club," he told Tottenham's official website.

"He spent more than six years at the club and he had a great time, we had a great time as team-mates.

"Then after what happened last summer… for most of us, it's going to be the first time that we’ve seen him.

"Obviously the most important thing for us right now is the game and the three points. We will have time after the game to enjoy the moment with him."

Former France international Christian Karembeu has declared Les Bleus the favourite for this year's World Cup after the draw was announced.

France are trying to become the first team since Brazil in 1962 to successfully defend their crown but will have history working against them as the last three teams to attempt that feat have all fallen in the group stage.

After drawing Group D, France will have fixtures against Denmark, Tunisia and the eventual playoff winner out of Australia, UAE and Peru.

Karembeu, who was part of the France side who prevailed on home soil in 1998, believes they have earned the title of favourite this time around.

"[France] are the [World Cup] favourites, which is a topic I have spoken about a lot," he told reporters in Qatar.

"We have a young team with a lot of quality, not to mention the head coach [Didier Deschamps] – I have to say that, otherwise he will yell at me. 

"We have a Federation that works, allowing us to be focused on that objective of winning the World Cup."

Fellow former World Cup winner Youri Djorkaeff was less emphatic about his prediction, instead pointing towards the interesting timing of the event, which begins in November.

"A draw in itself doesn't mean anything," he said.

"Yes, the World Cup is starting so you prepare, and you know when you are going to play, but there is no good or bad draw. Especially at this time of the year when all the teams are going to be competitive. 

"That's where [this] World Cup will be different from the others.

"All the great players and all the teams are going to get to a point in the season where they are going to be competitive. 

"It's not the end of the season, where it's long and there are a lot of big games. It's almost the beginning of the season. 

"It's going to be very interesting."

Former France international Christian Karembeu has declared Les Bleus the favourite for this year's World Cup after the draw was announced.

France is trying to become the first team since Brazil in 1962 to successfully defend their crown, but will have history working against them as the last three teams to try have all fallen in the group stage.

After drawing Group D, France will have fixtures against Denmark, Tunisia and the eventual playoff winner out of Australia, UAE and Peru.

Karembeu said he thinks France has earned the title of favourite this time around.

"[France] are the [World Cup] favourites, which is a topic I have spoken about a lot," he told reporters in Qatar.

"We have a young team with a lot of quality, not to mention the head coach [Didier Deschamps] – I have to say that, otherwise he will yell at me. 

"We have a Federation that works, allowing us to be focused on that objective of winning the World Cup."

Fellow former French international Youri Djorkaeff was less emphatic about his prediction, but instead pointed towards the interesting timing of the event.

"A draw in itself doesn't mean anything," he said.

"Yes, the World Cup is starting so you prepare, and you know when you are going to play, but there is no good or bad draw. Especially at this time of the year when all the teams are going to be competitive. 

"That's where [this] World Cup will be different from the others.

"All the great players and all the teams are going to get to a point in the season where they are going to be competitive. 

"It's not the end of the season, where it's long and there are a lot of big games. It's almost the beginning of the season. 

"It's going to be very interesting."

Didier Deschamps highlighted Denmark's quality as he warned of the difficulties of France's 2022 World Cup draw.

World champions France were entered into Group D on Friday, alongside Denmark, Tunisia and one of Peru, the United Arab Emirates or Australia.

Les Bleus also faced Denmark, Peru and Australia in the first round en route to the title in Russia four years ago and are now expected to comfortably get out of their group.

However, Deschamps was anything but complacent following the draw, well aware of the threat Denmark in particular pose.

Semi-finalists at Euro 2020, Denmark are ranked 11th in the world, with only Mexico and the Netherlands above them from pot two. Germany, widely considered the toughest opponents, are 12th.

And Kasper Hjulmand's side will get a good look at France in the Nations League at the end of this season, too.

Were France to fall into second place in their group, they would face the winners of Argentina's pool. Les Bleus beat Lionel Messi and Co. in Russia but would undoubtedly rather avoid one of the sport's great names in what seems set to be his last World Cup.

Deschamps, speaking to beIN SPORTS, said: "I do not know if this draw is perfect.

"The Danes will also have the advantage of getting to know us better after the two Nations League games this summer. And then it's not the same competition, so it's something else.

"You have to have a lot of respect for this team and especially not think that it's a given. We are talking about the 11th world nation that reached a semi-final at the last Euro. They rank higher than Germany.

"I saw that we will cross with the group of Argentina, but the most important thing is to know the schedules of the matches. We could go from 1pm to 10pm and it's not the same thing at all.

"We already know the dates, but we will wait to know the schedules."

Qatar 2022 is fast approaching and the anticipation will surely be at its most intense so far when Friday's draw for the group stage is completed.

The Doha Exhibition and Convention Center plays host to the milestone event, which will see eight groups drawn from pots as the eventual storylines of the World Cup begin to unfurl.

Among the narratives that will start being mapped out on Friday is France's title defence, with Les Bleus hoping to become the first team since Brazil in 1962 to successfully defend their World Cup crown.

Ahead of the draw, Stats Perform provides a lowdown of all the key information…

 

How will the draw work?

Most of us have seen a draw and understand the general premise, but there's a lot of detail to consider before we end up with our completed group stage.

For starters, the draw (19:00 local time) will only include 29 qualified teams, with the other three spots to consist of a couple of intercontinental play-off slot placeholders and one UEFA play-off slot placeholder, with those nations to be determined later in the year.

The qualified teams will be sorted into four pots of eight, with their FIFA world ranking determining which they enter – joining Qatar in pot one will be the top seven teams, while the nations ranked eight-15 will be in pot 2, and so on. The three play-off slot placeholders will be drawn from pot four.

There will also be eight pots representing the groups, A to H. Each group pot contains four balls with position numbers, ranging from one to four, which correspond to the teams' respective starting position in the tables and subsequently impact their fixture schedule.

Team pot one will be the first to empty, with Qatar automatically drawn into slot A1. The other sides from pot one will go straight into position one of the remaining groups.

From then on, a ball is drawn from a team pot and followed by one from a group pot, determining that team's position – for example, the second nation drawn into Group A could be placed in slot A4. The process continues until each team pot is emptied, with pot four the last to be drawn.

Where possible, no group will contain more than one team from the same qualification zone, with the exception of Europe – so anyone hoping for an encounter like Brazil v Uruguay will have to wait for the knockout stage.

Thursday's release of the latest world rankings confirmed the make-up of the respective pots, so, without any further ado, let's take a look through them…

The Pots

Pot One:

Qatar (hosts)
Brazil
Belgium
France
Argentina
England
Spain
Portugal

 

Pot Two:

Denmark
Netherlands
Germany
Mexico 
USA
Switzerland
Croatia
Uruguay

Pot Three:

Senegal
Iran
Japan
Morocco
Serbia
Poland
South Korea
Tunisia

 

Pot Four:

Cameroon
Canada
Ecuador
Saudi Arabia
Ghana
Intercontinental play-off placeholder 1 
Intercontinental play-off placeholder 2
UEFA play-off placeholder

Luck of the draw!

It goes without saying that, theoretically, being in pot one means you would be favourites to win your group. But that's the beauty of football; practically anything can happen once you're on the pitch.

If we look back to the last World Cup four years ago, defending champions Germany were top of the FIFA rankings and in pot one, but then failed to get through the group stage for the first time ever.

 

But just as being in a higher pot is no guarantee of going deep into the tournament, who's to say how eventual 2018 champions France would have fared had they been in pot two?

Les Bleus were ranked seventh at the time so squeezed into pot one ahead of Spain. While that arguably gave them a trickier route to the final in the knockout phase, perhaps the tests posed by Argentina, Uruguay and Belgium were what kept them sharp all the way to the end?

This time around, Spain do appear in pot one. Portugal do as well, with Fernando Santos' men benefiting in that regard from European champions Italy's shock absence.

Nevertheless, there are some powerful teams in pot two. The Netherlands and Germany are undoubtedly the pick of the bunch there, both of whom will provide a stern test for any of the teams in pot one. Brazil v Die Mannschaft in the group stage, anyone?

There's a chance we could even see a repeat of the 2018 final in the group stage, with Croatia (pot two) able to come up against France in the opening round, while an England v United States showdown would surely capture the imagination of fans on both sides of 'the pond'.

We can expect to see plenty of quality in pot three as well, especially with Serbia, Robert Lewandowski's Poland and African champions Senegal present.

Among those in pot four are Canada. They may only be competing in their second World Cup and first since 1986, but John Herdman's team have won plenty of admirers en route to winning the CONCACAF qualifying section ahead of Mexico and reaching a record high of 33rd in the rankings.

 

Excitement, expectations and exoduses as Ronaldo and Messi look likely to bow out

Whether watching football on TV or from the stands, it can often be easy to forget that our heroes are just ordinary people as well. They are individuals who in all likelihood had the same hopes and dreams as many of us as children.

The glitz and glamour surrounding professional football can lead us to put footballers on a pedestal, but behind the sport's shiny facade, our teams are made up of – and coached by – people who are just as obsessed with the idea of the World Cup as anyone else.

England manager Gareth Southgate encapsulated the excitement earlier this week, as he said: "[The World Cup evokes] a different sort of feeling, but it's still a tournament we all watched as kids, we all filled our wallcharts out, we all hoped and followed when England were there that we would do well. And it's a unique chance to make history, so that of course is massively exciting."

Of course, that innocent excitement harbours expectation and hope for many, for others there will be a feeling of responsibility to amend the wrongs of the past.

This time around, that's arguably truest when looking at Germany, with Manuel Neuer fully appreciating he may not get another opportunity to put things right.

"I know that I will probably not get to play many more World Cups, so after crashing out in 2018 in Russia and our exit against England [at Euro 2020], it's important that we show a new version of ourselves and visualise success," the experienced goalkeeper said.

That finality Neuer alluded to is another key aspect of the World Cup. Given the four-year cycle of the tournament, every time we bid a fond farewell to a few greats of the game who opt to take advantage of the cyclical nature and end their international careers.

 

This time it looks as though Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo – who for so long battled out their own personal 'Greatest of All-Time' rivalry – may be among those appearing on the World Cup stage for the last time.

"Goal achieved, we're at the Qatar World Cup. We're in our rightful place!" Ronaldo's Instagram post after Portugal's play-off success focused on the positive, but at 37, Qatar 2022 will surely be his final appearance at the tournament.

As for Messi, he said last week: "I don't know, the truth is I don't know. Let's hope [Argentina's preparations] go the best way possible. But for sure after the World Cup many things will change."

Exoduses after major international tournaments are common as teams reset or rebuild, but given what Messi and Ronaldo have represented on the pitch and the fact they've appeared at each of the previous four World Cups, their appearances at Qatar 2022 need to be savoured.

It all begins with Friday's draw, when narratives and talking points that'll live longer than any of us will start to take shape with the unscrewing of a few shiny plastic balls.

It's nearly four years since Didier Deschamps became only the third man to win the World Cup as a player and coach, as he guided France to their second success on football's grandest stage.

The target now for Les Bleus is to become the first nation since Brazil in 1962 to retain their crown, and that journey begins on Friday with the draw for the group stage of Qatar 2022.

Four years is a long time to wait for anything, but the draw for the World Cup is always a milestone event that sees the anticipation taken up a notch.

The eyes of the football world will be on the Doha Exhibition and Convention Center, where the eight groups will be drawn and potential routes to December's finale can start being plotted.

But there is a little more to the draw than that…

 

How will the draw work?

Most of us have seen a draw and understand the general premise, but there's a lot of detail to consider before we end up with our completed group stage.

For starters, Friday's draw (19:00 local time) will only include 29 qualified teams, with the other three spots to consist of a couple of intercontinental play-off slot placeholders and one UEFA play-off slot placeholder, with those nations to be determined later in the year.

The qualified teams will be sorted into four pots of eight, with their FIFA world ranking determining which they enter – joining Qatar in pot one will be the top seven teams, while the nations ranked eight-15 will be in pot 2, and so on. The three play-off slot placeholders will be drawn from pot four.

There will also be eight pots representing the groups, A to H. Each group pot contains four balls with position numbers, ranging from one to four, which correspond to the teams' respective starting position in the tables and subsequently impact their fixture schedule.

Team pot one will be the first to empty, with Qatar automatically drawn into slot A1. The other sides from pot one will go straight into position one of the remaining groups.

From then on, a ball is drawn from a team pot and followed by one from a group pot, determining that team's position – for example, the second nation drawn into Group A could be placed in slot A4. The process continues until each team pot is emptied, with pot four the last to be drawn.

Where possible, no group will contain more than one team from the same qualification zone, with the exception of Europe – so anyone hoping for an encounter like Brazil v Uruguay will have to wait for the knockout stage.

Thursday's release of the latest world rankings confirmed the make-up of the respective pots, so, without any further ado, let's take a look through them…

The Pots

Pot One:

Qatar (hosts)
Brazil
Belgium
France
Argentina
England
Spain
Portugal

 

Pot Two:

Denmark
Netherlands
Germany
Mexico 
USA
Switzerland
Croatia
Uruguay

Pot Three:

Senegal
Iran
Japan
Morocco
Serbia
Poland
South Korea
Tunisia

 

Pot Four:

Cameroon
Canada
Ecuador
Saudi Arabia
Ghana
Intercontinental play-off placeholder 1 
Intercontinental play-off placeholder 2
UEFA play-off placeholder

Luck of the draw!

It goes without saying that, theoretically, being in pot one means you would be favourites to win your group. But that's the beauty of football; practically anything can happen once you're on the pitch.

If we look back to the last World Cup four years ago, defending champions Germany were top of the FIFA rankings and in pot one, but then failed to get through the group stage for the first time ever.

 

But just as being in a higher pot is no guarantee of going deep into the tournament, who's to say how eventual 2018 champions France would have fared had they been in pot two?

Les Bleus were ranked seventh at the time so squeezed into pot one ahead of Spain. While that arguably gave them a trickier route to the final in the knockout phase, perhaps the tests posed by Argentina, Uruguay and Belgium were what kept them sharp all the way to the end?

This time around, Spain do appear in pot one. Portugal do as well, with Fernando Santos' men benefiting in that regard from European champions Italy's shock absence.

Nevertheless, there are some powerful teams in pot two. The Netherlands and Germany are undoubtedly the pick of the bunch there, both of whom will provide a stern test for any of the teams in pot one. Brazil v Die Mannschaft in the group stage, anyone?

There's a chance we could even see a repeat of the 2018 final in the group stage, with Croatia (pot two) able to come up against France in the opening round, while an England v United States showdown would surely capture the imagination of fans on both sides of 'the pond'.

We can expect to see plenty of quality in pot three as well, especially with Serbia, Robert Lewandowski's Poland and African champions Senegal present.

Among those in pot four are Canada. They may only be competing in their second World Cup and first since 1986, but John Herdman's team have won plenty of admirers en route to winning the CONCACAF qualifying section and reaching a record high of 33rd in the rankings.

 

Excitement, expectations and exoduses as Ronaldo and Messi look likely to bow out

Whether watching football on TV or from the stands, it can often be easy to forget that our heroes are just ordinary people as well. They are individuals who in all likelihood had the same hopes and dreams as many of us as children.

The glitz and glamour surrounding professional football can lead us to put footballers on a pedestal, but behind the sport's shiny facade, our teams are made up of – and coached by – people who are just as obsessed with the idea of the World Cup as anyone else.

England manager Gareth Southgate encapsulated the excitement earlier this week, as he said: "[The World Cup evokes] a different sort of feeling, but it's still a tournament we all watched as kids, we all filled our wallcharts out, we all hoped and followed when England were there that we would do well. And it's a unique chance to make history, so that of course is massively exciting."

Of course, that innocent excitement harbours expectation and hope for many, for others there will be a feeling of responsibility to amend the wrongs of the past.

This time around, that's arguably truest when looking at Germany, with Manuel Neuer fully appreciating he may not get another opportunity to put things right.

"I know that I will probably not get to play many more World Cups, so after crashing out in 2018 in Russia and our exit against England [at Euro 2020], it's important that we show a new version of ourselves and visualise success," the experienced goalkeeper said.

That finality Neuer alluded to is another key aspect of the World Cup. Given the four-year cycle of the tournament, every time we bid a fond farewell to a few greats of the game who opt to take advantage of the cyclical nature and end their international careers.

 

This time it looks as though Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo – who for so long battled out their own personal 'Greatest of All-Time' rivalry – may be among those appearing on the World Cup stage for the last time.

"Goal achieved, we're at the Qatar World Cup. We're in our rightful place!" Ronaldo's Instagram post after Portugal's play-off success focused on the positive, but at 37, Qatar 2022 will surely be his final appearance at the tournament.

As for Messi, he said last week: "I don't know, the truth is I don't know. Let's hope [Argentina's preparations] go the best way possible. But for sure after the World Cup many things will change."

Exoduses after major international tournaments are common as teams reset or rebuild, but given what Messi and Ronaldo have represented on the pitch and the fact they've appeared at each of the previous four World Cups, their appearances at Qatar 2022 need to be savoured.

It all begins with Friday's draw, when narratives and talking points that'll live longer than any of us will start to take shape with the unscrewing of a few shiny plastic balls.

Christian Eriksen's best performances for Denmark could well be yet to come, according to coach Kasper Hjulmand. 

After scoring when Denmark faced the Netherlands last week – his first international outing since suffering a cardiac arrest on the pitch last June – Eriksen took the captain's armband for his return to the site of his collapse in Tuesday's friendly against Serbia at Parken.

The Brentford midfielder marked the occasion with a lovely curling finish from the edge of the box, adding to strikes from Joakim Maehle and Jesper Lindstrom to complete a 3-0 victory. 

Eriksen was greeted by a banner reading "Welcome back, Eriksen" as led his team-mates out in Copenhagen and was given a standing ovation when he was substituted in the second half. 

"It was Christian Eriksen's comeback at Parken – it was magical," Hjulmand said. 

"We can see the blueprint for a relaxation and lightness in Christian's game, which is fantastic. He is so clear and calm, and he plays a lot of deep balls with his right and left feet, he keeps the game going when he needs to. It is a pleasure to see the way he makes himself comfortable on the pitch. 

"I think we can get something even better out of Christian for the next few years." 

Jannik Vestergaard believes Eriksen, who only returned to competitive action last month, has a new outlook on life and his career that is enabling him to perform to a high level. 

"You have to be careful what you say, but he was almost better than ever," said Vestergaard. 

"He played with ease … it may have really dawned on him how happy he is to play football. The pressure on him as our best player for many years then takes second place. 

"I think Christian enjoys every moment. Football is not everything in life, but for us football players it takes up quite a lot. He looks like someone who loves to be back, loves to play football and loves to play for Denmark. 

"I think there were many people who looked forward to getting Christian Eriksen back at Parken, and we had that too. 

"It was also great for us. It was a way to really put an end to some experiences we have had." 

Christian Eriksen made a memorable return to Parken by scoring while captaining Denmark to a 3-0 friendly victory over Serbia on Tuesday. 

Brentford midfielder Eriksen was playing at the stadium in Copenhagen for the first time since suffering a cardiac arrest there during the Euro 2020 game against Finland last June. 

The 30-year-old, who had an implantable cardioverter defibrillator fitted, only returned to competitive action in February and was handed the captain's armband for the game by Kasper Schmeichel. 

Eriksen was welcomed to the pitch with a banner that read "Welcome back, Christian" and followed up his goalscoring comeback against the Netherlands last week with a fine curling effort from just outside the box in the 57th minute. It rounded off the win after goals from Joakim Maehle and Jesper Lindstrom. 

A rapturous standing ovation met the former Inter and Tottenham playmaker when he was withdrawn by head coach Kasper Hjulmand in the 80th minute, bringing an emotional comeback to a close. 

Eriksen began speaking to the media after the final whistle but was pulled away by Schmeichel so he could take part in the celebrations with his team-mates. 

"This evening ranks high. And that reception gave me chills. Yes, it's hard to describe," Eriksen said to Discovery, before Schmeichel interrupted the interview so they could enjoy the occasion together.

Christian Eriksen will captain Denmark when he returns to Parken in a friendly against Serbia on Tuesday. 

It will be the first time Eriksen has played in the stadium since he suffered a cardiac arrest during Denmark's Euro 2020 group game against Finland last June. 

The 30-year-old had to have an implantable cardioverter defibrillator fitted, which made him ineligible to play in Italy and resulted in him leaving Inter for Brentford.

He returned to competitive action in the Bees' 2-0 loss to Newcastle United in February, and scored within two minutes of being introduced as a half-time substitute on his international comeback against the Netherlands in Amsterdam last week. 

Eriksen will now have the honour of captaining his country when he steps back onto the pitch at Parken. 

"It will definitely be very special because I have not been to Parken since it happened," he said. "Now, I'm really looking forward to being back on the pitch and being a football player again. 

"That's what it's about for me. But, I also look forward to the fact that after the match, we can put it behind us. 

"It will be very emotional and very special, but I am looking forward to it because it is something positive we are talking about." 

Denmark boss Kasper Hjulmand revealed that Kasper Schmeichel, who has skippered the side in the absence of the injured Simon Kjaer, approached him to ask that Eriksen be given the armband. 

"It's great to have him back. We've missed him," Schmeichel added. "It's not only on the pitch - we all saw what he can bring in the second half against the Netherlands – but also off the pitch. Something was missing."

Christian Eriksen says his comeback goal against the Netherlands was "just a warm-up", as he prepares to make a "special" return to Copenhagen with Denmark.

Eriksen will make his long-awaited return to the Parken Stadium, where he suffered a cardiac arrest during his country's Euro 2020 clash with Finland in June 2021, when Denmark host Serbia in a friendly on Tuesday.

The 30-year-old made an incredible return to international football on Saturday, scoring 114 seconds after coming on as a substitute during Denmark's 4-2 loss to the Netherlands. 

Having netted with a fine right-footed finish into the top corner at the Johan Cruyff Arena, the stadium where he began his club career with Ajax, the Brentford midfielder is now looking forward to what is sure to be an emotional return to home turf.

"That [the Serbia match] will be even more special," Eriksen told Danish TV station Kanal 5.

"[Saturday's goal] was just a warm-up for Tuesday, when I'll be running in exactly the place where it happened."

 

Kasper Hjulmand has already confirmed that Eriksen, who joined Brentford after being left unable to play for former club Inter due to Serie A rules around his implanted cardioverter-defibrillator device, will start the much-awaited contest.

Denmark qualified for this year's World Cup in eye-catching style, picking up 27 points from their 10 qualification games, and Eriksen is looking forward to competing in Qatar.

The 30-year-old also thanked the Dutch fans for the standing ovation he received upon his return to international football.

"To start the comeback in international football like this was the perfect way," Eriksen told Sky Sports on Saturday.

"I felt very welcome. I've been here before for many years so, of course, they [the fans] know me, but it was a very heart-warming reception for sure.

"I'm looking forward to playing at the Qatar World Cup, but there are a lot of games in between and I'm focused on them."

Matthijs de Ligt said he "got goosebumps" when Christian Eriksen took to the pitch during Saturday's friendly between the Netherlands and Denmark.

Eriksen had not played for his country since suffering a cardiac arrest on the pitch in Copenhagen during Euro 2020 last year.

Yet the former Tottenham and Inter playmaker, who is now back in action with Brentford, returned after a 287-day absence and scored with his very first touch just 114 seconds after coming on as a substitute.

Eriksen, fittingly playing at the stadium where he made his name for Ajax, almost netted a second when a long-range shot hit the woodwork but, with his goal having reduced the arrears to 3-2, it was the hosts who went on to edge out a thrilling contest 4-2 at the Johan Cruijff ArenA.

 

For Dutch centre-back De Ligt, however, playing against the 30-year-old was difficult. Nevertheless, the Juventus defender is thrilled to see the Dane back.

"It's not easy to tackle Eriksen, when he came on the pitch I had the skin go... I got goosebumps," De Ligt told reporters.

"We are players but also human beings, in those moments you have to think about playing, but it's clear that we are all happy that he is back playing at this level."

Eriksen did not create a chance for Kasper Hjulmand's side, but did put in a joint team-high three crosses (all from set-pieces) and completed 31 of his 36 attempted passes.

Christian Eriksen could not hide his delight after scoring on his return to international football, despite Denmark's 4-2 loss away to the Netherlands on Saturday, saying he "felt like a footballer" again.

Following his cardiac arrest during Denmark's opening group game against Finland at Euro 2020, Eriksen found the net within two minutes of coming onto the pitch to joyfully end a 287-day absence.

He almost scored a second in his return match, rattling the frame of the goal from long distance.

Yet simply being on the pitch for Denmark provided satisfaction for Eriksen.

"I felt like a footballer again. I have been away internationally for so long," he told NOS.

"I'm just very happy to be back. To also score is that little bit extra, it gives a wonderful feeling. I was looking forward to it."

A warm reception for the former Tottenham and Inter man was inevitable, but playing in the city and stadium where he made his name – having spent five years at Ajax – made for a particularly special moment, Eriksen sharing an embrace with former Ajax team-mate Daley Blind, who continues to play with a heart defibrillator.

For Eriksen, rhe only thing that could have added to the occasion would have been a second goal.

"It's great that I scored, but I would rather have scored two. It's a shame the ball didn't go in," he said.

"I had wonderful years here and I remembered where the goal was here in the Arena."

Denmark will finish their international window when they host Serbia on Tuesday.

Christian Eriksen scored two minutes into his international comeback as Denmark fell to a 4-2 loss against the Netherlands in Saturday's friendly at Johan Cruijff ArenA.

The midfielder was back in Denmark's squad for the first time since suffering a cardiac arrest at Euro 2020 and made an instant impact after being brought on at half-time.

Eriksen's well-taken goal, coming at the ground where he made a name for himself with Ajax, got Denmark back into the game after the hosts opened up a 3-1 lead at the break.

Steven Bergwijn and Nathan Ake netted either side of Jannik Vestergaard's leveller before Memphis Depay converted a penalty, with Bergwijn rounding things off after Eriksen's strike.

 

The Netherlands had already tested Kasper Schmeichel three times before Bergwijn met Daley Blind's left-sided cross and headed in a 16th-minute opener.

Denmark's response was a swift one, with Joakim Maehle sending in a cross for Vestergaard to glance in a leveller four minutes later after Jesper Lindstrom's free-kick was blocked.

Ake restored the Netherlands' lead shortly before the half-hour mark with another headed goal, finishing from close range once picked out by a fine Steven Berghuis delivery.

Louis van Gaal's men had some breathing space before the interval thanks to a Depay penalty, which was awarded for Vestergaard's challenge on Berghuis.

Denmark lost Yussuf Poulsen and Thomas Delaney to injury but were given a lifeline when Eriksen converted fellow substitute Andreas Skov Olsen's pass with a first-time finish.

Bergwijn's curled effort with 20 minutes to go ended Denmark's hopes of claiming a draw, though there was still time for Eriksen to send a long-range shot off the post.

Louis van Gaal has spoken out for the first time against the World Cup in Qatar in his position as Netherlands coach.

The former Ajax and Manchester United manager is known for speaking his mind, and made clear the strength of his feelings about this year's prestigious competition.

During a news conference on Monday ahead of a friendly against Denmark, the 70-year-old called it "ridiculous" that the tournament will be held in Qatar in November.

"I am a member of a committee with [KNVB Secretary-General] Gijs de Jong. We meet and then I hear what has been agreed with other countries," he said. "Then I hear what we can do and I give my comments.

"I'm on it every month. I have already mentioned it in previous press conferences. I think it's ridiculous that the World Cup is there."

While Van Gaal's position on the World Cup in Qatar has been publicly known, he has not spoken on it since taking over as the Dutch national team coach last August.

"We are playing in a country that FIFA says they want to develop football there," he added. "That's bulls..t, but it doesn't matter. It's about money, about commercial interests. That matters in FIFA.

"Why do you think I'm not on a committee at FIFA or UEFA with my expertise? Because I have always opposed these kinds of organisations. I can say that in Qatar later but that won't help the world get rid of this problem."

The Oranje face Denmark in Amsterdam on Saturday, before also hosting Germany on Tuesday.

Christian Eriksen has tested positive for Covid-19 ahead of his long-awaited return to the Danish national team next week.

The 30-year-old, who suffered a cardiac arrest during Denmark's Euro 2020 clash with Finland last June, has impressed since joining Brentford on a free transfer in January.

He registered an assist during the Bees' 2-0 win over Burnley this month with what was his first goal involvement since his return to football.

Eriksen's strong club form led him to receive a call-up for his country's upcoming friendly matches, but the positive test will delay the midfielder's journey to meet up with the squad.

Although, Denmark boss Kasper Hjulmand hopes the Brentford man will still be available to feature in clashes against the Netherlands – to be played at the home of Eriksen's former club Ajax – and against Serbia in Copenhagen. 

"We've been running dialogue with Christian and Brentford on the situation," Hjulmand said.

"We expect to see Christian as soon as possible, later in the week. 

"We are happy to get him in the team and expect to have him with us for the exciting friendly matches against Holland and Serbia."

The creative midfielder's positive test ruled him out of Brentford' Premier League clash with Leicester City on Sunday, despite Bees boss Thomas Frank claiming during his pre-match media duties that Eriksen had since returned a negative test result.

Eriksen has earned 109 caps for Denmark – putting him 20 appearances short of Peter Schmeichel's record of 129 outings for his country – and has scored 36 international goals.

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