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Back a draw at half-time and an England win at full-time. Denmark is a high-tempo team but will probably sit back in the opening half, while Gareth Southgate’s side have continually played their way into games at this tournament. It could well be 0-0 at half-time, with home advantage giving England the edge after the interval.
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|England vs Denmark Information|
|Teams||England vs Denmark|
|Location||Wembley Stadium, London, England|
|Time||Wednesday, 7 July 2021, 15.00 PM EDT|
|How to watch||ESPN|
England is a major soccer nation, but it has not always had the best relationship with the European Championship. Remarkably, Saturday’s 4-0 thrashing of Ukraine in Rome was the first time in the competition’s history that the Three Lions won a knockout game on foreign soil. Their only previous post-group phase triumphs had come at Wembley, the stadium which will play host to Wednesday’s semi-final.
A more relevant record to Euro 2020 is that England is the first team in tournament history to register clean sheets in each of their first five matches. There were doubts over the defense heading into the summer, but Southgate has done a fine job of protecting the backline with a double pivot of Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips in midfield. The return to fitness of Harry Maguire has been crucial too, with the Manchester United man has emerged as one of Europe’s leading center-halves over the last couple of years.
England’s attack was even more impressive at the weekend. Harry Kane scored his second goal of the tournament early on, and Southgate’s side proceeded to find the back of the net three more times in 17 second-half minutes. True, Ukraine was not the toughest opponent in the quarter-final stage; indeed, they were probably the weakest team to reach the last eight. But there was much to admire in England’s measured, controlled performance – at both ends of the pitch.
Southgate’s tactical flexibility was once again on display. Having switched to a 3-4-3 formation against Germany in a bid to nullify their wing-backs, he reverted back to a 4-2-3-1 setup on Saturday, with Jadon Sancho handed his first start. The soon-to-be Manchester United man performed well but will probably drop to the bench here, as Southgate once again tailors his selection to the opposition in front of him.
You would have got extremely good odds on Denmark reaching the semi-finals of Euro 2020 after the first two matches of the group stage. Kasper Hjulmand’s side had no points to their name back then, having lost 1-0 to Finland and 2-1 to Belgium, despite producing a fantastic performance in the latter match. The Danes looked to be headed through the exit door.
Since then, however, the one-time European champions have been brilliant, and they are now through to the last four for the first time since they won the trophy in 1992. In 4-1 and 4-0 defeats of Russia and Wales respectively, Denmark blew the opposition away with their fast-paced attacking and energetic pressing. It was a different story against Czech Republic, but Saturday’s 2-1 win in Baku underlined that Denmark are a well-rounded team capable of going all the way this summer.
Hjulmand’s team stormed into a 2-0 lead before half-time, with Thomas Delaney heading home from a corner and Kasper Dolberg applying the finishing touch to a stunning cross from Joakim Maehle.
Czech Republic put them under heavy pressure early in the second half and pulled a goal back soon after the restart. But Denmark stood up to the physical challenge they then faced, winning plenty of headers in their own penalty area and counter-attacking effectively. Czech Republic soon ran out of steam, and that was in part down to Denmark’s successful nullification of them.
Both semi-finals and Sunday’s final will be held at Wembley, potentially handing England an advantage. They will be cheered on here by a passionate crowd, with a large majority of the 60,000 fans present likely to be supporting Southgate’s side. In such an atmosphere England would be advised to seek a fast start and an early goal.
Denmark, for their part, will be content to contain the de facto home team in the early stages. They are unlikely to commit too many bodies forward on the counter-attack, although Hjulmand will ensure his players are ready to spring forward if the opportunity to do so presents itself.
If England fail to make a breakthrough in the first 10 minutes, we could be in store for a cagey first half. Southgate is cautious by nature and, in both knockout games against Germany and Ukraine, his team has showed a willingness to bide their time and wait for openings. With the stakes so high in a semi-final, England will remain patient and resist cries from the crowd to flood forward and potentially expose themselves at the back.
As such, it would not be at all surprising to see the scores level after 45 minutes. This is a game that could go either way, but home advantage is a big deal and that could ultimately tip the balance in England’s favor. Go for draw/England in the half-time/full-time market.
Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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