Euro 2020: England face Denmark as they eye first major final for 55 years

Euro 2020: England face Denmark as they eye first major final for 55 years

Sixteen teams from across the continent will battle it out in the Euro 2020 tournament. The England team have been in the news for all the wrong reasons ever since their dismal performance at the World Cup in Russia last summer. Now they face Denmark in the first round of the Euro 2020 qualifiers, in a must win match to keep their hopes of a first major tournament title alive.

I’m sure you’ve heard by now the news that England could face Denmark in the 2020 European Championship final. (If you haven’t, you can read all the details here.) But as is the case with most major sporting events, this is little more than a story in the news—it’s not like the real deal is going to happen. Let’s take this discussion towards some sort of conclusion, and imagine how the final will play out.

The Three Lions face their biggest test of qualification since the 1930s ahead of a potential home and away tie with Denmark in the last eight of Euro 2020.

Date: Wednesday, 7 a.m. July. Begin: 20:00 BST. Location: Wembley Stadium. Scope: Listen to the live commentary on Radio 5 Live. Excerpts on One at 23:20 BST; full replay on One at 00:55 on Thursday; text commentary, coverage and excerpts on the sports website.

England prepare for the Euro 2020 semi-final against Denmark at Wembley Stadium on Wednesday, knowing that a win would secure them a place in the final of the major men’s tournament for the first time since 1966.

Gareth Southgate’s side will face Italy in the final on Sunday when they beat the Danes in front of 60,000 English fans at Wembley Stadium.

Millions more are expected to cheer on the Three Lions from their homes, pubs and special fan parks after 20.9 million viewers watched their 4-0 quarter-final victory over Ukraine on Saturday.

We don’t have as good a footballing past as we sometimes want to believe, Southgate said. These players are making great strides and breaking through barriers time and time again.

We’ve never reached a European final and we could be the first English team to do so, which is very exciting.

Due to travel restrictions imposed by Britain to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, fans living in Denmark cannot support their team at Wembley.

Instead, around 6,000 tickets for the semi-finals were given away to Danes living in the UK. The Danish Football Association has sent 1,000 red and white T-shirts and other accessories to London for fans attending the match.

England, who have never won a European Championship, are looking to reach the final of their first major tournament in 55 years.

They have reached the semi-finals of a world or European championship five times, but have only qualified once.

But excitement is building – and hope is turning into expectation – that Southgate’s team will achieve their first major tournament triumph since the 1966 World Cup.

Cars and houses have been decorated with English flags and pubs have been given permission to keep their doors open for an extra 45 minutes on Sunday until 11.15pm BST in case the final at Wembley, which starts at 8pm, ends in extra time and penalty kicks.

Throughout the tournament, English fans sing the Football Comes Home anthem, which became popular when the Three Lions reached the semi-finals of Euro 96.

When asked what it would mean to crush England’s European Cup dreams, Danish goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel said: He’s never been home? I don’t know. Did you ever win one?

But according to Harry Kane, England captain, the team has every chance to pull through.

He’s right when he says we’re not at home in this league yet, Kane said. We know that if we do well, it will be enough to get us over the line.

Will Southgate make changes and in what composition?

Arsenal striker Bukayo Saca, 19, has recovered from the stroke that caused him to miss the win over Ukraine, but Southgate must decide whether to keep the same squad that started in Rome or make changes.

The England coach used a 4-2-3-1 formation in the last match and will have to decide whether to return to a 3-4-3 formation to beat the Danes.

England have a very special chance in the semi-finals – Southgate

Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand has no new injury problems and can field an unchanged starting line-up for the third game, although he admits fatigue is taking its toll.

Hulmand said on Monday that the Tank was devastated by the win against the Czech Republic in the quarter-finals.

We’re ready

England have already ended 55 years of waiting for a win in a knockout match against Germany at Euro 2020, but Southgate is aware that the Three Lions have always lost in the last four semi-finals of major tournaments.

In 2018, his team lost their place in the World Cup final by losing to Croatia in extra time in Moscow.

We are ready to play, the players are ready, they have a lot of experience, they have been in this situation before, Southgate said.

Our preparation was relaxed and we know we are playing against a very good opponent. It will be a very intense and exciting match for everyone.

How strong will Denmark be?

Denmark have emerged as one of the stories of the tournament and are poised to improve after midfielder Christian Eriksen was injured by a heart attack in the opening match.

Former Tottenham man Eriksen, who has already been released from hospital, scored from the penalty spot the last time Denmark played England in the Nations League at Wembley in October 2020, when Harry Maguire was sent off.

The Danes, who had lost their first two matches against Finland and Belgium, won three in a row to reach the semi-finals.

Almost three decades have passed since the Danes stunned the continent by winning Euro 1992, capitalising on a late defeat in the final to create their country’s greatest sporting moment.

They are just two wins away from making history at Wembley.

We almost lost our best player, our best friend and the heart of the team, Hulmand said. We tried to fight against those emotions and played great football.

We have shown who we are, and I am very proud of that.

Denmark scores – but England wins

Mark Lawrenson, sports football expert

After the injury caused by Eriksen’s heartbreak, Denmark has had a great run.

They play a very English style of football, being physical when needed, but they have experienced players in key positions.

They will give England a good game and I think they will be the first team to score against Gareth Southgate’s team at Euro 2020.

I still think England will be too strong, but maybe they won’t be beaten by Southgate’s first team – it could be the strikers coming off the bench in the second half.

Lowro’s prediction: England wins 2-1

Euro 2020: Gary Lineker says England were close to perfection

Land advantage plays an important role

According to Simon Glive, head of sports analysis at Nielsen’s Gracenote, there is a 68 per cent chance of England beating Denmark and reaching the European Championship final.

The home advantage plays an important role: it increases England’s chances of victory by 12% and reduces Denmark’s by the same percentage.

Gleave said Denmark’s chances of winning Euro 2020 have risen to 14.3%. They will be England’s toughest opponent [at Euro 2020], he said.

GAME STATISTICS

Head to head

  • England’s only victory in their last six matches against Denmark was a 3-0 win in the Round of 16 at the 2002 World Cup.
  • The only other game in a major tournament between England and Denmark was a scoreless draw in the group stage of Euro 92, which was won by the Danes.
  • The seven meetings between the teams at Wembley Stadium ended 1-0, with England winning five and Denmark two.

England

  • England won their first semi-final at a major tournament, beating Portugal at the 1966 World Cup, but were eliminated in their next four matches at this stage (at the 1990 and 2018 World Cups and Euro 68 and 96). They were also beaten by the Netherlands in the 2019 Nations League semi-finals.
  • Kane has scored nine goals in major tournaments, one less than Gary Lineker’s England record.
  • Luke Shaw’s three assists in the tournament were a record for England in one European competition and equalled David Beckham’s total at Euro 2000.
  • Before Wednesday’s game, England had played 36 European Championship matches – most without reaching at least one final.

Denmark

  • At this stage of the European Championship, Denmark was eliminated by the USSR in 1964, lost on penalties to Spain in 1984, but won the penalty shootout series against the Netherlands to reach the final of Euro 92, which it won.
  • The 29-year gap between reaching the European Championship semi-finals is the longest for any country.
  • Hjulmand’s team scored 11 goals at Euro 2020. This is the highest number for Denmark in a major tournament, surpassing the 10 goals scored at the 1986 World Cup.
  • Striker Mikkel Damsgaard has three goals and four assists in seven games for Denmark.

England are preparing to face Denmark in the semi-finals of Euro 2020 at Wembley on Wednesday, knowing victory will secure them a place in a major men’s tournament final for the first time since 1966.

Gareth Southgate’s side will face Italy in Sunday’s final if they defeat the Danes in front of around 60,000 mostly England fans at Wembley.

Millions more are expected to cheer the Three Lions on from home, in pubs and designated fan parks after a peak TV audience of 20.9 million watched them cruise past Ukraine 4-0 in the quarter-finals last Saturday.

“We don’t have as good a football history as we like to believe sometimes,” said Southgate. “These players are making massive strides and breaking down barriers all the time.

“We have never been to a European Championship final so we can be the first England team to do that which is really exciting.”

Travel restrictions imposed by the UK to curb the spread of coronavirus means fans based in Denmark will not be able to cheer on their team at Wembley.

Instead some 6,000 tickets for the semi-final have been made available to Danes living in the UK. The Danish FA has sent 1,000 jerseys and other red and white merchandise to London for fans attending.

England, who have never won the European Championship, are looking to reach a first major tournament final for 55 years.

They have appeared in five previous World Cup or European Championship semi-finals but only advanced once.

However, there is mounting excitement – and hope has turned to expectation – that Southgate’s side can deliver a first major tournament triumph since the 1966 World Cup.

Cars and homes are decked out with England flags while pubs have been given permission to stay open an extra 45 minutes until 23:15 BST on Sunday, in case the final at Wembley, which kicks-off at 20:00, goes to extra time and penalties.

Meanwhile, England supporters have been serenading their team through the tournament with chants of ‘Football’s Coming Home’, the anthem that first became popular when the Three Lions reached the Euro 96 semi-finals.

Asked what it would mean to ruin England’s dreams of Euro glory, Denmark keeper Kasper Schmeichel said: “Has it ever been home? I don’t know. Have you ever won it?”

But England captain Harry Kane said the team was in a strong position to put that right.

“He’s right in terms it hasn’t ‘come home’ in this competition for us,” said Kane. “We know if we can get it right then it should be enough to get us over the line.”

Will Southgate make changes and what formation?

Nineteen-year-old Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka has recovered from the knock that forced him to miss the Ukraine win but Southgate must decide whether to stick with the same XI that started in Rome or make changes.

The England boss used a 4-2-3-1 formation last time out and has to choose whether to revert back to a 3-4-3 set-up with the aim of stifling the Danes.

England have ‘very special opportunity’ in semi-final – Southgate

Denmark boss Kasper Hjulmand has no fresh injury concerns and could name an unchanged starting line-up for the third game despite the head coach admitting that fatigue is a concern.

Hjulmand said on Monday “the tank was emptied” during the quarter-final win over the Czech Republic.

‘We are ready’

Euro 2020 has already seen England end a 55-year wait for a knockout tie victory over Germany but Southgate is only too aware the Three Lions have fallen agonisingly short on their past four semi-final appearances at major tournaments.

In 2018, his side were denied a place in the World Cup final after an extra time defeat to Croatia in Moscow.

“We are ready for the game, the players are ready, they have got tremendous experience themselves having been in this situation before,” said Southgate.

“Our preparations have been calm and we know we are playing a very good opponent. It’s going to be a really tight game and an exciting game for everybody.”

How tough will Denmark be?

Denmark have become one of the stories of the tournament and have gone from strength to strength since the trauma of their opening game, when midfielder Christian Eriksen suffered a cardiac arrest.

Former Tottenham player Eriksen, who has since been discharged from hospital, scored the winner from the penalty spot the last time Denmark visited Wembley to play England in the Nations League in October 2020, as Harry Maguire was sent off.

The Danes, who lost their first two games to Finland and Belgium, have won three matches in a row to reach the semi-finals.

It is nearly three decades since the Danes shocked the continent with their victory at Euro 1992, taking advantage of a late call-up to the finals to produce their country’s greatest sporting moment.

They are just two Wembley wins away from writing another fairytale.

“We almost lost our best player, our best friend and the heart of the team,” said Hjulmand. “We have tried to fight through these emotions and we have played fantastic football.

“We’ve shown who we are and I am very proud.”

‘Denmark to score – but England to win’

Sport football expert Mark Lawrenson

Denmark have been on an amazing journey since the trauma of Eriksen’s cardiac arrest.

They play very much an English style of football in that they are physical when they need to be, but they have got some skilful players in key areas.

They will give England a good game, and I think they will become the first side to score against Gareth Southgate’s side at Euro 2020.

I still think England will have too much for them, but it might not be Southgate’s first-choice team that sees them off – it might be the forwards who come off the bench in the second half who do that.

Lawro’s prediction: England to win 2-1

Euro 2020: Gary Lineker says England have been ‘near to perfect’

‘Home advantage plays a big role’

England have a 68% chance of beating Denmark and securing a place in the European Championship final, according to Simon Gleave, head of sports analysis at sports data company Nielsen’s Gracenote.

“Home advantage plays a big role in this, increasing England’s winning chance by 12% and reducing Denmark’s by the same,” he said.

Gleave said Denmark’s chances of winning Euro 2020 had risen to 14.3%. “They will be England’s toughest opposition to date [at Euro 2020],” he said.

MATCH STATS

Head-to-head

  • England’s only win in their past six competitive games against Denmark was a 3-0 victory in the round of 16 at the 2002 World Cup.
  • The only other match at a major tournament between England and Denmark was a goalless draw in the group stage of Euro 92 – a tournament the Danes went on to win.
  • The seven meetings between the sides at Wembley have all ended 1-0, with England recording five wins and Denmark two.

England

  • England won their first semi-final at a major tournament, beating Portugal at the 1966 World Cup, but have been eliminated in their subsequent four matches at this stage (the 1990 and 2018 World Cups plus Euro 68 and 96). They were also beaten by the Dutch in the semi-finals of the Nations League in 2019.
  • Kane’s total of nine goals at major tournaments is one shy of the England record, held by Gary Lineker.
  • Luke Shaw’s total of three assists during this tournament equals the record for an Englishman at a single European Championship, matching David Beckham’s haul at Euro 2000.
  • Before Wednesday’s game, England have played 36 matches at the European Championship – the most of any side without reaching at least one final.

Denmark

  • Denmark were eliminated at this stage of the European Championship by the USSR in 1964 and lost to Spain on penalties in 1984, but won a shootout against the Netherlands to advance to the final of Euro 92 – which they won.
  • Their 29-year gap between European Championship semi-finals appearances is the longest by any nation.
  • Hjulmand’s side have scored 11 goals at Euro 2020. It is Denmark’s highest total in a single edition of a major tournament, surpassing the 10 they netted at the 1986 World Cup.
  • Forward Mikkel Damsgaard has scored three goals and assisted four in his seven games for Denmark.

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England will be hoping to make their first ever major football final as they face Denmark today in Odense in the UEFA Euro 2020 tournament. The Three Lions have not made a final of this magnitude since the 1958 World Cup, with the competition marred by allegations of bribery of referees and bribery of players. The very idea England qualified for Euro 2020 is an incredible achievement, as they had been considered the weakest side in the competition.. Read more about england 26-man squad prediction and let us know what you think.

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