The shocking pictures from June 12, 2021 are unforgettable.

How Christian Eriksen lay on the grass during the European Championship game against Finland in the stadium in Copenhagen.

How the doctors fought for his life after the cardiac arrest.

How fellow players and viewers hoped that this drama would have a happy ending.

And as Simon Kjær, captain of the Danish national football team, captured everyone close together and Eriksen's crying partner comfortingly.

It was also Kjær who first saw the situation at the moment of Eriksen's collapse, sprinting across the pitch to his friend, getting him in the recovery position and waving to the first responders.

Tobias Rabe

Responsible editor for Sport Online.

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That was almost a year and a half ago.

Eriksen survived and is playing professional football again - with a defibrillator.

Since assignments in Italy are not allowed, he left Inter Milan and came to Manchester United via Brentford - and to the World Cup in Qatar.

"It's something very special to be here," said Eriksen at the training ground in al-Rayyan.

"I wanted to come back and be who I was.

But my first goal was to be a friend and a father.

I now fully appreciate the simple fact of being alive and with my family.”

These days, Eriksen spends a lot of time with his friend Kjær, just like in Italy.

Although he defended for AC Milan and Eriksen stormed for Inter, a close relationship developed, and the families and children were also friends.

Kjær, once in Wolfsburg, took him by the hand when he arrived in Italy and made it easier for him to get used to the foreign country, Eriksen later said.

He has long since been the key player for the Danes, who meet Australia this Wednesday (4 p.m. in the FAZ live ticker for the World Cup and on MagentaTV).

After the unexpected 0:0 against Tunisia and the unfortunate 1:2 against France, "Danish Dynamite" has to win to reach the World Cup Round of 16.

Memories of the EM

Eriksen will be in Kasper Hjulmand's starting XI.

The coach praised his number ten in the highest tones.

“Christian is the heart of our team.

I would like to clone him.

I'd like to have him in my own penalty area and in front of the other goal," said the coach.

However, it is unclear whether Kjær will at least defend his own penalty area from the start.

A year ago he suffered a cruciate ligament tear in his knee, and he was injured for three weeks in October.

The captain was the center of the back three against Tunisia but was substituted off with a thigh muscle problem that also meant he missed the France game.

Now he's fit again, as Hjulmand confirmed in Doha on Tuesday.

However, should the coach use a back four against less offensively strong Australians, Andreas Christensen, who scored Denmark's only goal against the French in Qatar, and Joachim Andersen could defend inside.

The tabular constellation brings back memories of the EM.

"We even had zero points after two games," said Hjulmand.

A win followed and they stormed through to the semi-finals, although they were "mentally in a much worse position" at the time, as first responder and chaplain Kjær now said.

Under the former Mainz coach Hjulmand, who has been with the national team since 2020, Denmark has undergone steady development.

No nation in Europe scored more points in qualifying for the World Cup, and the Danes defeated world champions France twice in the Nations League.

But in Qatar things are not going well for the team, which quite a few even saw as one of the favorites for the World Cup title.

In the first game, former Bremen and Dortmund player Thomas Delaney suffered a knee injury;

for him the tournament is over.

The center forward problem, for which the Germans found at least a temporary answer with Niclas Füllkrug, also concerns the Danes.

Kasper Dolberg, Andreas Cornelius and Martin Braithwaite were allowed to try but didn't score.

Jonas Wind from Wolfsburg is waiting for his chance up front, as is Leipzig's Yussuf Poulsen.

Another parallel to the Germans can be found off the field.

Hardly any other football association protested more vehemently against the situation in Qatar before the World Cup.

Now it has become quiet.

After sharp criticism at the start of the tournament at the world governing body FIFA and President Gianni Infantino, questions about the prohibited "Human Rights for All" training shirt and the punishable wearing of the "One Love" captain's armband are no longer answered.

"It's my job and the players' job to focus on the games.

I'll be available for other questions when we get home," Hjulmand said.

If they don't win against Australia, the Danish departure will come sooner than many expected.