England vs. Denmark
Last Time Out:
England hammered Ukraine 4-0; Denmark defeated the Czech Republic 2-1.
Denmark beat England 1-0 on Oct. 14, 2020, at Wembley Stadium.
About the Matchup:
How appropriate is it that the last team to beat England on English soil serves as the final hurdle between the Three Lions and their first appearance in a final since 1966. Denmark's win gets a bit of an asterisk because the Danes got to play in front of no crowd and the Three Lions had to play the final hour of the match down a man after picking up a red card. England finished that match with only nine players after getting a second red in stoppage time, an outcome that’s highly unlikely to repeat itself this time around.
This England side is smart, well-drilled, and knows exactly who it is. England is the first team in Euro history to make it five matches without conceding a goal, in large part because they pride themselves on defense and on keeping their shape. Most teams barely get one good chance against the Three Lions, and if that opportunity isn’t taken, that’s basically the only opportunity of the 90 minutes. In the last meeting, Denmark's one opportunity was provided by a penalty, which Christian Eriksen put away for the match's only goal. Bur Eriksen won't be on the pitch for this encounter, as he's still recovering from his near-death experience during the Finland match and trying to inspire his teammates to pull together and claim Denmark’s first European crown since its miracle run to the championship in 1992.
England showed that it could attack too in its dissection of Ukraine, as Harry Kane got himself started in the knockout stages and has shaken off the rough start to the tournament by scoring three goals when they’ve meant the most for the Three Lions. However, even with a four-goal rout, England's primary concern is its defense, which has been nothing short of stellar throughout the competition.
That’s the way Gareth Southgate has wanted to play from the start of this tournament, and England has made itself into one of the most disciplined sides in the tournament, with only Italy rivaling their defensive efforts. England’s soccer might not always be the most attractive to watch, but all Southgate cares about is how effective it is, and in that aspect of the game, it’s impossible to argue with his results. In England's last 11 matches, the Three Lions have kept a clean sheet on ten occasions.
Striking early has been the name of the game for Denmark ever since losing Eriksen, as they’ve gone ahead in four of their five matches and have scored within the first half-hour in three of them. But the big question here is whether Danish Dynamite's style will work all that well against England. The English defense prides itself on taking away crosses into the box, which happens to be the thing that Denmark does best. Without Eriksen on the pitch, it will be difficult for the Danes to change up the way they play at this late stage of the tournament.
The other big question is what Denmark does if it doesn’t get the early goal. In the one game in which the Danes trailed, a 1-0 loss to Finland, they looked mentally out of it after giving up the only goal of the match. Of course, it’s impossible to tell the reason, given that they’d just seen Eriksen go down on the pitch, so the jury is still out on whether Denmark can overcome a deficit should it fall behind.
Dan's Score Prediction:
Denmark has been a fantastic story, but England has been the better team throughout this tournament. The reality is, Denmark has faced some of the weakest sides in the tournament during its path to the semifinals, going through Russia, Wales, and the Czech Republic to reach this point.
None of those teams can compete with England, and Denmark is likely to find that out the hard way. The Danes aren't overmatched, but they're certainly the underdogs here, and for a good reason. I don't think we're in for a surprise here; I'm taking England to win 2-0 at +650.