England v Denmark: Southgate must improve on recent history to reach first Euros final

By Sports Desk July 06, 2021

England will battle the weight of expectation and a poor recent record against Denmark in their Euro 2020 semi-final at Wembley Stadium on Wednesday.

The Three Lions enjoyed the most one-sided of all the quarter-finals, defeating Ukraine 4-0 in Rome as they stretched their run at this tournament to five games without conceding a goal.

However, history has not been kind to England at this stage of the competition. They lost their only previous semi-finals – against Yugoslavia in 1968 and Germany in 1996, when now manager Gareth Southgate missed the crucial kick in the shoot-out – and the omens are not necessarily positive given they have won only one of the previous six competitive meetings with Denmark.

Indeed, the only previous occasion England won a semi-final was in the 1966 World Cup on home soil, when they defeated Eusebio's Portugal 2-1.

"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," said Southgate, who led England to the final four at the World Cup three years ago only to be defeated by Croatia.

"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.

"Now we've replicated what we did there, but that won't be enough to fulfil the group. That's a positive sign."

 

Kasper Hjulmand's Denmark have defied the odds to reach this stage after losing their first two games while dealing with the hospitalisation of Christian Eriksen, who collapsed during their opening defeat to Finland. Their 2-1 win over the Czech Republic in the previous round secured their last-four spot for the first time since they won the tournament back in 1992.

England defender Harry Maguire is fully prepared for a difficult game in London against a side who have scored 11 times at these finals, a tally bettered only by Spain (12) among the semi-finalists.

"Their journey has been really inspiring and all our thoughts have always been with Christian and his recovery," he said.

"They're a good team though and they've proved that over the last few years, they'll be the highest-ranked team we've faced so far at the competition so we know they're strong."

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

England – Harry Maguire

Maguire's last game against Denmark lasted just 31 minutes as he was sent off for two bookings in a 1-0 loss in October 2020.

It was a difficult time for the Manchester United captain, who had recently gone through legal proceedings in Greece and had endured a wretched start to the Premier League season that included a 6-1 home defeat to Tottenham.

Maguire is now a player transformed. He has looked imperious since returning from an ankle injury, helping to shut down Germany and Ukraine's attack in the knockouts and getting on the scoresheet in that quarter-final win.

Denmark – Joakim Maehle

Atalanta wing-back Joakim Maehle has been arguably not only Denmark's standout star at the Euros but perhaps the best player of the entire tournament.

Directly involved in three of his side's 11 goals, Maehle assisted Kasper Dolberg's crucial second against the Czech Republic with a quite wonderful trivela cross from the left. He should really have scored himself in the second half, too.

England's defence has been resolute throughout, but Maehle might present a more unorthodox test as an energetic left wing-back with a mean right foot. His battle with Kyle Walker could be key.

 

KEY OPTA FACTS

- This will be the third meeting between England and Denmark in a major tournament. England won 3-0 in the second round of the 2002 World Cup, after a goalless draw in the group stages of Euro 1992 – a competition that Denmark went on to win.

- All seven meetings between England and Denmark at Wembley Stadium have finished 1-0, with England winning five to Denmark's two. Denmark have won their past two competitive games against England at the stadium (1983 and 2020), with no side ever winning three consecutive competitive games against the Three Lions at Wembley.

- Denmark have had seven different goalscorers at Euro 2020 – excluding own goals, only Germany in 2012 (8) have had more different players score in a single edition of the European Championship.

- England have kept a clean sheet in all five of their games at Euro 2020 – no team has ever kept six clean sheets in a single edition of the European Championship or World Cup before.

- Harry Kane has been involved in 27 goals in his past 26 games for England (18 scored, nine assisted). He has nine goals at major tournaments (six at the World Cup, three at the Euros), with only Gary Lineker netting more such goals for England (10).

Related items

  • Rodgers says Packers' 9-3 run has defied expectations amid adversity Rodgers says Packers' 9-3 run has defied expectations amid adversity

    Reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers says the Green Bay Packers have defied expectations amid more injuries than ever, meaning their 9-3 record "feels pretty good".

    The Packers are top in the NFC North ahead of their Week 13 bye where Rodgers, who has thrown 2,878 yards for 23 touchdowns this season, will get the chance to rest a niggling toe issue.

    Green Bay's impressive run has come amid injury issues to cornerback Jaire Alexander, center Josh Myers, outside linebacker Za'Darius Smith and offensive tackle David Bakhtiari, while star wide receiver Davante Adams tested positive to COVID-19 last month.

    "I think we've been dealing with as many injuries as we've had throughout the years," Rodgers said during an appearance on The Pat McAfee show. "A lot of important players, starters on IR, no chance to return and some with a chance.

    "Bakhtiari obviously had an opportunity, not sure when that will do. Jaire, hoping him. Za'Darius who knows? Josh Myers up in the air.

    "There's a lot of those and then you have the weekly injuries we've had with Kevin King and Aaron Jones. [The bye] definitely comes at a good time.

    "For us to be 9-3, not many people expected that looking at our schedule and what we've dealt with this year with Davante being out with COVID and all the injuries up front and on the defensive side of the ball, that feels pretty good."

    Rodgers has been in the thick of the news, with his immunisation revelation before testing positive to COVID-19, along with his tongue-in-cheek remark about "COVID toe", all the while his side have claimed good wins against the likes of the Los Angeles Rams, Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers.

    "It hasn’t been a quiet 12 weeks," he added. "I'm very happy with where we're at. Very happy to have gotten off to the star that we've gotten off to. Happy we've faced some adversity and we're moving through it and close to the other side of it."

    The Packers defeated the Rams 36-28 on Sunday, with Rodgers throwing two touchdown passes, as well as completing one rushing TD.

    Adams, who has five touchdowns for the season including two in Week 11 in the 34-31 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, had eight receptions against the Rams for 104 yards but no touchdowns.

    "He has a lot of freedom which he should because he has such a great release pattern and he's such a smart guy," Rodgers said about Adams. "It's not like he's going outside the schematic things but he's making decisions that might not be the expected paper decisions, when you’re looking at it on paper.

    "There's paper routes and there's do-whatever-you-want routes for Davante. He did it last week against Minnesota on the second touchdown, he ad-libbed that route, that's why I was a bit late getting to him.

    "Normally I have a pretty good sense. You've got to read body movements. Also our conversations are very high level when it comes to those situations."

  • Reggae Boy defender Mariappa seals move to Australia A-League club Macarthur FC Reggae Boy defender Mariappa seals move to Australia A-League club Macarthur FC

    Jamaica international Adrian Mariappa has secured a surprise move to Australia Super League club Macarthur FC.

    The 35-year-old defender had been without a club since May of this year, after being released by English Championship club Bristol City.  The player had, however, continued to show strong form with his country’s national team, playing in 6 games.

    Mariappa was linked with a move back to England with Sheffield Wednesday, who are coached by another former Jamaica international Darren Moore.  The club reportedly offered the out-of-contract player a deal, but he opted for the Super League move instead.

    For his part, Mariappa insists he is excited and looking forward to the new challenge.

    “I want to thank the owners and the football staff for having faith in me and making this happen,” Mariappa said.

    “When the opportunity to join the Bulls arrived, it was one I couldn’t turn down. It’s an exciting new challenge for me in my career and that for me is what I thrive off,” he added.

    “I’m hungry to achieve great things with the club and create new memories with the team and the fans.”

    Macarthur have won one and drawn one of their two games so far in the 2021/22 season.

  • LeBron set to miss several games after entering NBA's health and safety protocols LeBron set to miss several games after entering NBA's health and safety protocols

    Four-time NBA MVP LeBron James has entered the league's health and safety protocols.

    The 36-year-old was set to line up for the Los Angeles Lakers against the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday but was ruled out ahead of tip-off.

    James is likely to be out for several games, having already missed 11 of the Lakers' 22 games this season with ankle and abdominal injuries along with a one-game suspension.

    The NBA mandates a minimum of 10 days of isolation away from a player's team if they have tested positive to COVID-19, before mandatory cardiac screening and reconditioning to be cleared to return. James confirmed in September that he has been vaccinated from COVID-19.

    The Lakers, who are 11-11 across the 2021-22 NBA season, are 4-7 without James in the team this campaign.

    James is averaging 25.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 6.8 assists per game from 11 games this season.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.