England have more belief ahead of Denmark match than 2018 semi-final - Maguire

By Sports Desk July 05, 2021

England are a better side now than the one that lost to Croatia at the 2018 World Cup and have a lot more faith in overcoming Denmark in their latest semi-final, according to Harry Maguire.

The Three Lions eased to a 4-0 win over Ukraine in Saturday's Euro 2020 quarter-final in Rome – their biggest win in the knockout stages of a major tournament – to set up a showdown with Denmark at Wembley on Wednesday.

England lost their most recent semi-final appearance in the competition on penalties to Germany in 1996, while also losing at that stage to Croatia in the World Cup three years ago en route to finishing fourth.

Not since being crowned world champions on home soil in 1966 have England reached the final of a major tournament, but Maguire insists his side will use the pain of their most recent semi-final heartbreak to drive them on.

"The motivation is there," he said at a news conference on Monday. "It's the semi-final of the European Championship. Losing the semi-final at the World Cup hurt a lot.

"We need to make sure when it comes on Wednesday we get a positive feeling rather than the one we got against Croatia.

"I think we're in a lot better place than we were then. The experience of that, we've learnt from it and also the experience of the games in between as well, for example the Nations League.

"We've had a lot of big games in that period to improve and a lot of time spent together on the training pitch, friendlies and qualifiers. Every game we play we feel we improve.

"My mentality will be the same, but there is more belief going into Denmark than Croatia. We hadn't been to a semi-final in so long in 2018 so the belief wasn't there. We've just got to focus on ourselves."

 

Wednesday's match will be a special occasion for Gareth Southgate, who will become just the second manager to take charge of England in the semi-finals of both the World Cup and the European Championship after Alf Ramsey in 1966 and 1968.

"Gareth sits here and gives us all the plaudits," Maguire said. "But we appreciate the job he's doing and the way that he sets us up and his man-management skills.

"I can't speak highly enough of him and his coaching staff and the way that he's gone about his business over the last four years."

Maguire made his senior international debut under Southgate in October 2017 and has gone on to make 35 appearances for England, the most recent of those being the quarter-final win against Ukraine in which he scored his side's second goal.

England are expected to be given a far tougher test by Denmark, who are competing in the semi-finals of the competition for the first time since famously lifting the trophy against all the odds in 1992.

The Nordic nation – the first team to qualify from the group stage despite losing their first two games - have been the story of the tournament following Christian Eriksen's cardiac arrest on the pitch in their opener against Finland.

Eriksen has subsequently recovered and is in regular contact with his team-mates, who have gone from strength to strength since understandably making a slow start to the competition.

"First and foremost, our thoughts have always been with Christian and his recovery and we're all right behind that," Maguire said. "They're a good team. They've proved that for years.

"They're the highest-ranked team we will have played in this competition. They're a strong team with great leaders in their team, great experience. We know it will be a tough game, but we're really focused on ourselves."

All seven meetings between England and Denmark at Wembley have finished 1-0, with England winning five to Denmark's two, though the Danes have won their last two competitive games against the Three Lions at the stadium.

 

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