Euro 2020 semi-final: England vs. Denmark preview, predictions and team news
Can the Three Lions end their semi-final hoodoo or will the Danish Cinderella story continue?
It doesn’t usually end well for England when they reach the semi-finals of a major tournament. Since a 2-1 win over Portugal in the 1966 World Cup the Three Lions have been beaten twice by Germany on penalties (Italia 90 and Euro 96) and 2-1 by Croatia in the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
If football is going to come home then the next step of the journey is to end the semi-final hoodoo against Denmark at Wembley on Wednesday. For England head coach Gareth Southgate he says the squad have a “fabulous opportunity”.
“It’s a chance to make history as we’ve never been to a European Championship final,” he said. “It’s not so much pressure for this team; it’s another challenge that they’ve got the chance to take on, and at the moment they’re rising to those challenges.”
When asked about the semi-final history, he added: “We’ve knocked off so many hoodoos or perceived barriers already and I feel like this group of players will feel this is just the next challenge. I guess the interesting part for us is we won’t feel totally satisfied if it’s just a semi-final for us, whereas maybe three years ago, although there was massive disappointment after the semi-final, there was a feeling we’d come a long way.”
England captain Harry Kane, who has now scored three times at Euro 2020, says “we need to try to focus on ourselves; it is a semi-final at our national stadium and we’ve got to use all those positives to worry about us”. The striker added: “We know if we get it right and play how we know we can then we have a great opportunity to get to a final. It’s going to be incredible.”
This is a team “who sense this is their moment”, says Uefa.com reporter Simon Hart. “And with 60,000 fans inside Wembley roaring them on, why not make some more history?”
Danes have nothing to lose
After the anguish of Christian Eriksen’s cardiac arrest in their opening fixture the Danes have performed superbly in the Euro 2020 knockouts, beating Wales 4-0 in the round of 16 and the Czech Republic 2-1 in the quarter-finals.
They also have a good recent record against the Three Lions. Last year in the Uefa Nations League the teams drew 0-0 in Copenhagen but Denmark were 1-0 winners at Wembley in the return fixture.
England must be considered “big favourites” for the semi-final but Denmark have “absolutely nothing to lose”, says Eurosport’s Magnus Stub. He hopes the “Cinderella story continues”.
With Denmark on the amber list only UK-based Danes will be able to attend the match on Wednesday. Head coach Kasper Hjulmand says it will be like “playing an away game but that also has its own charm, so we’re actually looking forward to it”. He added: “We’re happy that people will be there and that the fans are back in the stadium though, obviously, we would have loved it if half the stadium was dressed in Danish colours. Our motivation is to quiet the spectators, but we know it’s going to be difficult.”
Denmark forward Kasper Dolberg, who has scored three goals at Euro 2020, said: “Everyone in the camp has a lot of faith in the team. It’s outstanding what we’ve done over the past few weeks, and we must take that with us into the semi-final. That belief that we can do it. Of course, we have to look at England and maybe also adapt a little, but we also need to play to our own strengths.”
Southgate is predicting a “fantastic” occasion on Wednesday. “We had two games with Denmark in the autumn,” he said. “I knew what a good side they were before and they’ve proved that again in this tournament. It is going to be a fantastic game to be part of.”
The winners will play Italy in the Euro 2020 final on Sunday 11 July, also at Wembley Stadium.
Kick-off time and TV details
The semi-final clash between England and Denmark takes place on Wednesday 7 July at Wembley Stadium in London. Kick-off is at 8pm (BST) and the match is live on ITV and ITV Hub from 6.30pm.
England team news
Southgate’s side are yet to concede a goal at Euro 2020, but will he revert to a back three to match the Danes’ system, as he did against Germany, or stick with a 4-2-3-1, asks Uefa.com reporter Simon Hart.
After being handed a first start in the tournament, Jadon Sancho impressed against the Ukraine so will hope to keep his place, says Alex Young of the London Evening Standard. However, Bukayo Saka and Jack Grealish are pushing for a start.
England possible starting XI: Pickford; Walker, Stones, Maguire, Shaw; Phillips, Rice; Sancho/Saka, Mount, Sterling; Kane
Denmark team news
It would not be a surprise to see Denmark boss Hjulmand name an unchanged XI, says Ben Knapton of SportsMole. Yussuf Poulsen, who was fit enough to start from the bench against the Czechs, may struggle to displace in-form forward Kasper Dolberg.
Denmark possible starting XI: Schmeichel; Christensen, Kjær, Vestergaard; Stryger, Højbjerg, Delaney, Mæhle; Braithwaite, Dolberg, Damsgaard
Pundit predictions: who will reach the final?
Mark Critchley, The Independent: “This is the most difficult test that England have faced yet. Yes, Germany were last-16 opponents of a greater pedigree, but Denmark are an impressive all-round unit with few weak points or flaws. Kasper Hjulmand has shown himself to be a tactically flexible coach, too. Much will depend on shackling Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg - who, in Christian Eriksen’s absence, has shown he can create as well as destroy - and the dangerous overlaps of Joakim Maehle. England have enough to do that and create problems themselves but a return to the tense, narrow wins of the group stages feels likely. England 1-0 Denmark.”
Alex Sarwar, The Stats Zone: “Whilst Denmark will fight with everything they have, it would be a big surprise if England don’t find the net at least once within the 90 minutes against a country who have kept just one clean sheet over the course of their five Euro 2020 matches played so far. When taking this into account alongside the formidable and in-form backline of the Three Lions, Gareth Southgate’s side have to be favoured to come out on top here over 90 minutes.”
Ben McAleer for WhoScored, via The Guardian: “England fans are understandably excited at the prospect of football coming home, especially after their convincing victory over Ukraine – the first time England had scored four goals in a knockout game at a major tournament since the World Cup final in 1966 – but Denmark should not be underestimated. Prediction: England 1-1 Denmark, and England to win on penalties.”
Sport360: “England face the dark horses of the tournament. Denmark have exceeded all expectations by qualifying for the last four. England’s Harry Kane is on fire, and Raheem Sterling is also in excellent form. Denmark will have to get past an England team that is at its best in both defence and attack with incredible strength coming off the bench. It will be very difficult for Denmark to repeat the story and we see England heading through to the final.”
Telegraph Sport: “Denmark have impressed throughout Euro 2020, particularly given the events of their first game where Christian Eriksen collapsed. England are growing increasingly strong in the tournament and are still yet to concede a goal. With an enormous Wembley support behind them they should edge this and reach their first major tournament final since 1966. England 2 Denmark 1 (AET).”
Magnus Stub, Eurosport Denmark: “All optimism aside, England must be considered BIG favourites for this match. Wembley without travelling Danish fans, world class players all around etc. However, Denmark have a great head-to-head record against England, and we have absolutely nothing to lose - the Cinderella story continues with a 1-0 victory and a lot of disappointed Englishmen. Good things come in threes and we have previously won 1-0 twice at Wembley. Let’s make it three!”
Alex Young, London Evening Standard: “Two teams with huge momentum, it will be about which team manages the occasion better. England have the experience and will have the home crowd behind them. On paper, Gareth Southgate’s side are the more talented, but the Danes have showed time and again they have the ability to beat the best. I’m backing an enthralling game decided by fine margins, and England to reach the final. 2-1.”
Ben Knapton, SportsMole: “Underestimating a nation of Denmark's calibre would almost certainly prove fatal for England, who must prepare for a gruelling evening of football against a side daring to dream just as much as they are. While we anticipate Southgate's staunch defence finally being breached at Euro 2020 - as well as the Danes having enough energy in the tank to take the game to extra time - England's attacking options off the bench ought to see them get over the line and bring football that one step closer to home. We say: England 2-1 Denmark (AET).”