Semi finals and penalty heartbreak, it’s all part of English football fan DNA; and here we are again, with Denmark in the way of a Wembley showpiece final against Italy. Euro 2020 is being played in 2021 with Free Live Streaming on BBC iPlayer and ITV Sport. Need an England Euro 2020 Football VPN?
“It’s coming home, it’s coming home, it’s coming…………..Football’s coming home”. The anthem of 1996 has been reawakened as England have marched to the semi-finals of Euro 2020, the furthest they have progressed in a European Championship since 1996. With a nation now expectant, the pressure has begun to grow on the English players who will have the advantage of a home crowd in the semi’s and, should the progress, the final itself. Will England Euro 2020 end in glory?
🏴 England vs Denmark 🇩🇰
📺 Free Live Euro 2020 Streaming on ITV + Catchup on ITV Hub
📅 7 July 2021
⏰ 2000 BST
England’s path to these semi-finals has been relatively straight forward. The landed a favourable group draw with Croatia, Scotland and the Czech Republic. It was Croatia that knocked England out at the semi-final stages of the 2018 World Cup but that team has aged and the lack of quality young players to replace the elder statesmen has seen them decline as a threat. Scotland, despite plenty of hard work and determination, are still lacking in quality in a number of positions – in particular the attacking areas, and the Czech Republic are another honest, hard-working team but lacking in the kind of pace and creativity that could have hurt England.
A 1-0 win over Croatia to begin the tournament was exactly what Gareth Southgate would have hoped for. The performance did little to inspire but the result was all that mattered and Raheem Sterling’s goal gave England the ideal start. Up next came the Scots and while they gave England everything they could handle, they never really looked like scoring. Scotland were, undoubtedly, the better team on the night with England turning in a poor performance, but the 0-0 ensured that England would advance to the round of 16 regardless of the result in their final match. That final match, against the Czechs, saw England produce their best 45 minutes of football in the competition to that point. Their first half display was a drastic change from what had come beforehand. The second half, after Southgate began making substitutions, may well have been the worst half they had played in the competition which was an impressive achievement after what was served up against Scotland. Nevertheless, Raheem Sterling’s first half goal was enough to secure the win and a couple of excellent Jordan Pickford saves maintained that lead as England ran out as group winners.
Because of how other groups worked out, England were set to face a tough task in the Round of 16 whether they finished 1st, 2nd or 3rd in their group. Third would have meant a meeting with the Dutch, Second would have seen them line up against Spain, and first meant the runner up in Group F, set to be one of Germany, Portugal or France. It was the old enemy in the end as Germany completed their own uninspiring group stage with a draw against Hungary.
Memories of past defeats became the talk of the build-up but once the two teams took the field it was clear that England were the superior side. Germany were to be respected but they weren’t the same team of past tournaments. Weak in defense and aimless in attack, they were overly reliant on their midfield to try and win them games. England took a different approach, and avoided trying to play through the middle of the pitch. A dull game came to life when Raheem Sterling opened the scoring, meeting Luke Shaw’s cross to finish off a move he himself had started. Those inside Wembley erupted and England were on their way. A late header from Harry Kane put the game to bed as the captain made his first meaningful contribution to the tournament after 336 minutes of largely terrible stuff from the England captain. A 2-0 win was a fair reflection on the game, and the feeling afterwards was that had Southgate let England play with more freedom, they could have won by even more.
They did win by even more in their quarter-final. Taking on a Ukrainian side who had finished 3rd in Group C and then defeated Sweden with a last minute winner in the Round of 16, England were heavy favourites. Away from Wembley for the first time in the competition, the pressure seemed to lift somewhat and England looked a lot more like the team who finished 4th at the World Cup. The goals were even reminiscent of those England scored in Russia.
Harry Kane made it 1-0 on four minutes after brilliant work from Raheem Sterling left him with a simple task from eight yards. The game was pretty even for the remainder of the first half but Harry Maguire’s header from Luke Shaw’s excellent free-kick made it 2-0 just over a minute into the second half, before Kane got on the end of another Shaw cross just four minutes later to head home from six yards and make it 3-0. The game was over at that point and Ukraine gave up. They started playing to avoid an embarrassment and barring allowing Jordan Henderson to score his first international goal with a header from a set-piece, they mostly achieved it. England were excellent on the night and probably could have run up the score if they’d been so inclined. Sterling and Sancho were menacing out wide, Kane turned in easily his best performance of the tournament and the midfield tandem of Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips showed once again why Southgate has retained faith in them. Phillips in particular has had an excellent competition and outside of Sterling has probably been England’s best player.
The next test for England will be Denmark, somewhat surprising semi-finalists considering the circumstances with which they began the competition, but they will be a very tough opponent. Will England Euro 2020 end in glory?
Without wanting to rehash the incident, losing Christian Eriksen in such a horrible manner and then losing the game when UEFA forced them to play it just hours after the incident could well have spelled the end for a different team. Losing to Belgium in their second game would certainly have seen many teams give up. But not this team. Not this collection of players, and not this manager.
Kasper Hjulmand through out the game plan, burnt the blueprint and started over. A back three was introduced, and the style of football was completely changed. Much faster paced, much more direct without relying on long passes. Quick, vertical passes became the order of the day. Getting the ball wide through the flanking central defenders, or getting it into the box through the midfield. Utilising positions of maximum possibilities to give their attackers plenty of opportunities to convert high probability chances.
The back three of Andreas Christenson, Simon Kjaer and Jannik Vestergaard has meshed well, with Stryger Larson and Joakim Maehle providing width and quality service as wingbacks. Thomas Delaney and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg have the industry and quality to match up well with any opposing double-pivot. In attack, Kasper Dolberg has found his goalscoring touch at just the right time, while Martin Braithwaite and Mikkel Damsgaard provide pace, width, movement and fluidity. There’s not a man in the team who doesn’t work extremely hard, there’s a self belief that allows them to feel they can beat anybody and there’s a bond formed through adversity which enables them to scale mountains.
After those first two matches, they dusted themselves off and proceeded to destroy Russia 4-1 before demolishing Wales 4-0. While they 2-1 win over the Czech’s in the quarter-final wasn’t as impressive on the scoreboard, their first half display was the best 45 minutes they’ve played so far. It also allowed them to measure themselves against England, who’d also played the Czechs.
Denmark will, according to the FIFA rankings, be England’s toughest test to date in this competition. Thus far England have played Croatia who are ranked 14th, Scotland who rank 44th, the Czech’s who rank 40th, Germany who are at their lowest point in years in 12 and 24th ranked Ukraine. Denmark are ranked 10, and while the rankings aren’t always a great thing to judge from they do reflect recent form. For context, England are ranked 4th and the other semi-finalists, Spain and Italy, are ranked 6th and 7th respectively.
Denmark will provide a unique threat to England because of their style of play and the tempo at which they play. Those things, and their shape, will be similar to Scotland who caused England the most trouble so far. The difference is, Denmark have real match winners in Dolberg and Damsgaard and will punish England if given the opportunity. England’s defence is yet to be properly tested for a prolonged spell and the Danes will fancy that they can be the team to do it.
Gareth Southgate changed his shape to a back 3 to combat the German set-up before reverting back to a back 4 against Ukraine having used it in the group. It will be interesting to see if he goes to a back 3 again, especially given the problems Scotland caused England using wingbacks against traditional fullbacks. Regardless of what shape England set up in, they will be favourites to win the game and have the quality to beat Denmark but with the pressure they will be under, and the belief Denmark have in themselves, anything could happen. Will England Euro 2020 end in glory?
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