Euro 2020: Day 25
England return to the national stadium to face Denmark after a successful road trip saw them dispatch Ukraine 4-0 in Rome. The trip to Italy is the only one England have faced away from Wembley, while Denmark also had the luxury of all three of their group stage games being “home” games, before trips to Amsterdam to thrash Wales and Baku to beat the Czech Republic brought them to this point.
England will come into this game buoyed by their success over Ukraine, where although victory looked likely the manner of their performance certainly underlined their intent in the competition. In the end, Southgate was able to make several changes, avoiding any injuries and suspensions, meaning the biggest headache he will probably face ahead of this game will be around the formation. Denmark have tended to have 3 at the back more frequently, meaning Southgate may once again switch to the wing back system employed successfully against Germany, but the England manager will also be aware that Denmark also have the capacity to easily switch formation, as they have shown already in the tournament with Christensen moving into midfield.
England will also be glad to see Harry Kane beginning to find the form in front of goal that is expected of him, the Premier League’s top goalscorer from last season scoring twice against Ukraine to bring him level with Raheem Sterling on 3 goals each. Jadon Sancho made his first start against Ukraine, and had a solid game, Southgate highlighting he had been brought in for his direct pace and willingness to carry the ball, something he felt would be a good area to exploit in the game against Ukraine, so it will be interesting to see how he opts to go against Denmark, who have looked more solid but as the Czech Republic showed they can be got at from wide areas. There is also the added complication of the return to the squad of Mason Mount, and where you would employee him were you to switch the formation once more.
Both are nice headaches to have, and I personally feel that England may switch back to the system against Germany, with Trippier potentially coming back in, and then either Saka or Sancho taking the final place. England come into the game with the upper hand in the head to head record, but Denmark have caused them problems recently. The last, and only, time they faced off in the European Championships was a 0-0 draw back in 1992 when Denmark went on to famously win the competition.
Many words have been written about Denmark, around fairy tales, emotional rollercoasters etc., but it should be remembered they came into the tournament as one of the outside favourites, with their last defeat other than Belgium, who were ranked number 1 in the world, coming all the way back in 2018 in a friendly against Slovakia, and all the way back in 2016 against Montenegro if you only take competitive games into account. Like England, they have the potential to mix up their starting XI, changing formation to suit either the opposition or game state as required, something they have done well to date.
Atalanta full back Joakim Mæhle has been one of the outstanding performers of the tournament to date, enjoying the licence to roam up and down the left hand side, and producing one of the balls of the tournament to set up Dolberg in their 2-1 victory over the Czech Republic, while also scoring two goals himself. Dolberg himself has made an impact since coming into the team, initially Yussuf Poulsen being given the starting berth before his injury. Pierre-Emile Højbjerg is no stranger to fans of the Premier League, and he does the same job for Denmark as he does at Tottenham, marshalling the midfield and winning the ball, while he also has 3 assists to his name so far.
21 year old Sampdoria forward Mikkel Damsgaard is another who has caught the eye in this tournament, and can offer something extra going forward, again linking up well with Mæhle down the left hand side, although he can also feature on the right, an area they may look to exploit England, especially when Kyle Walker pushes forward, another reason why I think Southgate may look to employ wingbacks rather than the flat back four for this one. Despite losing their opening two games, despite looking impressive in the first half against Belgium before eventually losing, they have since won the next 3, scoring 4 goals twice in that time against Russia and Wales, and so will pose a threat to the England defensive record on the counter attack.
Prediction wise I genuinely can’t say, and have no wish to either tempt fate or get carried away either, but I feel fairly confident in saying I will be on (and expect to land) both teams scoring in this one, England finally conceding a tournament goal while I expect England to get some joy against the Danes too, Harry Kane carrying on his resurgence a potential area for profit.Share this: