Peru went into the 2018 FIFA World Cup as Unofficial Football World Champions. The first UFWC title match at Russia 2018 was Peru v Denmark at the Mordovia Arena in Saransk. Peru and Denmark lined up in World Cup Group C alongside France and Australia. Any of those sides could take the title during the group stage. Once title reached the knock-out stage, any of 32 sides could win it, and a combined and undisputed unofficial and official UFWC and FIFA world champion would be crowned.
Peru 0-1 Denmark
16 June 2018
Mordovia Arena, Saransk
Peru went into the World Cup as longstanding UFWC champions, having taken the unofficial title in August 2017. They hadn’t actually lost a match since 2016, and the return of captain and star striker Paolo Guerrero following the suspension of his suspension meant high hopes for La Blanquirroja. But Guerrero wasn’t deemed fit enough to start and, although Peru created numerous chances, they couldn’t convert. Kasper Schmeichel made a series of saves in the Denmark goal, and Yussuf Poulsen scored for the Danes in the 59th minute, from Christian Eriksen’s through-ball. 1-0 to Denmark, who took the UFWC title for the first time in almost 30 years.
Denmark 1-1 Australia
21 June 2018
Samara Arena, Samara
Star man Christian Eriksen scored an early goal for Denmark, emphatically beating Socceroos keeper Mat Ryan after a lay-off from Nicolai Jorgensen in the 7th minute. This was another tight match, as Denmark struggled to create chances against a hardworking Australia side. The Aussies got a reward for their efforts in the 38th minute, when this World Cup’s key feature, the VAR review, raised its head. Yussuf Poulsen went from hero to villain as the review found him guilty of handball in the area, and awarded Australia a penalty, which was buried by Mile Jedinak. There were no further goals, and the draw meant Denmark retained the UFWC title.
Denmark 0-0 France
26 June 2018
Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow
France had already qualified for the knockout stage, and Denmark knew a draw would be enough to secure their place in the next round, and the result was a tepid encounter, almost entirely devoid of goal scoring chances or efforts. It was almost as if neither France nor Denmark realised the UFWC title was at stake. The draw – the first 0-0 of the 2018 World Cup – means Denmark remain Unofficial Football World Champions and take the title into the knockout stages.
The next UFWC title match will be on Sunday, 1 July, when Denmark will face Croatia, the winners of Group D, in their round of 16 knockout match. The Croatians have competed in seven previous UFWC matches but have never won the title. As one of the most impressive teams at Russia 2018, and with Denmark flattering to deceive, they may not get a better chance.
Read our full World Cup preview here.
New for 2018,the latest edition of the official UFWC book, Unofficial Football World Champions.
This is the fourth edition of the book that has been published in every World Cup year since 2006. Expanded and updated to include new matches, teams, players and statistics, it’s a complete guide to the UFWC, including all 936 title matches played since 1872, and all 48 unofficial football world champions.
It’s available exclusively from Amazon stores worldwide, priced at £9.99 or $13.95 – click here.