Former looking to reach final after 1966, latter hoping to emulate 1992 exploits
England has the chance to reach a first major final since its 1966 World Cup triumph when it takes on Denmark in Wednesday’s Euro 2020 semifinal, but it will need to banish a history of stumbling at this stage.
Coach Gareth Southgate has been keen to keep the burden of history out of his team’s thinking, though he does not have to look back far for a warning against complacency.
An England side containing 10 of the current squad faced Denmark in October in a Nations League match and lost 1-0 to a Christian Eriksen penalty.
Eriksen, who is recovering from the shocking cardiac episode he suffered as he collapsed in Denmark’s opening Euro game, will not feature at Wembley of course.
But Kasper Hjulmand’s side will be largely the same as the one which left London with three points eight months ago.
The lessons from that game are limited by the fact that England played almost an hour with 10 men after Harry Maguire was sent off in the 31st minute.
Yet to concede
Maguire looks rock solid at the moment as part of an England defence which has yet to concede a goal in the tournament. And with Harry Kane back to scoring form with three goals in the two knockout stage games, England looks to be peaking at the right moment.
Denmark’s performances, where it has responded to the Eriksen trauma in such inspiring fashion, should also keep England focused.
The Danes got out of Group B with a rousing 4-1 win over Russia in Copenhagen before thrashing Wales 4-0 in Amsterdam.
In the quarterfinal they beat a well-organised Czech side 2-1 in the heat of Baku.
Much of the focus on Denmark has been on the way the team has come together and fought so well after the shocking scenes against Finland.
Hjulmand’s team, meanwhile, has a clear structure and method to its play which has earned them its place in the last four.
In attack, Martin Braithwaite creates the spaces which Mikkel Damsgaard and Kasper Dolberg have exploited well and there is a threat from attacking wing backs Jens Stryger Larsen and the excellent Joakim Maehle.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Thomas Delaney are a firm presence in the centre of midfield while the back line in front of goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel has been solid.
Unbeaten England though start as clear favourites with a stronger squad and home advantage and the fear that has gripped it in previous campaigns refreshingly absent so far.
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