England vs. Denmark Might Be One of the Best Games of the Euros
There’s everything to play for
The European Championships come to an important milestone very soon, with the tournament’s first semi-final matchup of Italy vs Spain taking place on Tuesday. Undoubtedly, however, eyes worldwide will be fixated on England and Denmark, who face off on Wednesday. Both teams have inspiring storylines behind them, and as we look towards Wednesday’s battle, there’s a consensus that this game will be both exciting and tense for either team.
England’s story dates back decades, marking two key points in time. The earliest is 1966, the year England “brought football home”, beating West Germany 4–2 in the World Cup final. Since then, the Three Lions have never been in an international tournament final, but this group could be making history with a win against Denmark.
The second pivotal event is the one which many England supporters dread to think about — Euro 1996. This tournament would be the last semi-final in which the nation would appear for 25 years and is unfortunately underscored by Gareth Southgate’s penalty miss against Germany, who ultimately won the tournament.
This year as England manager, Southgate has proved that Germany is not an obstacle for him and his team. The round of 16 saw England knock Germany out with two goals to nil, presenting England with the most favourable route to the trophy they could have asked for. A win against Denmark would lead to England facing either Spain or Italy, both being teams that have paled in comparison to their potential rival’s domination.
Meanwhile, the Denmark national team has a much more emotionally charged background.
Worldwide, people watched in horror as Christian Eriksen collapsed during a game against Finland on June 12th. His teammates formed a human barrier to shield him as medics performed CPR, and he was later confirmed safe after being rushed to hospital. However, there is doubt among cardiologists on whether Eriksen will be able to play again — this possibility has galvanised the Danish side, who spoke of playing for Eriksen:
We will see if we can get ourselves together and play for Christian.
— Kasper Hjulmand, Denmark manager
The fear for Eriksen’s life was palpable, no matter whether you were in the stadium or not, no matter whether you followed football or not. The national team’s players, coaches and staff have all made a point of channelling this fear, and relief after news of his safety, into energy for their campaign, and there is no doubt that numerous people are rooting for them.
The team’s presence in the semi-final may seem unlikely as well, but not too unlikely — after all, Denmark won the Euros in 1992, after they came into replace Yugoslavia. The beautiful game can even favour the most unassuming teams, and Denmark will surely be working towards a footballing masterclass.
After narratives come performances. England tore into Ukraine in their quarter-final match, beating them 4–0, courtesy of a goal from Jordan Henderson — his first ever goal for England — Harry Maguire and two from Harry Kane.
Harry Kane seems to be well into his stride now, after a goalless opening three matches, scoring three goals across the last two matches. Doubts about the striker’s credibility are well and truly obsolete now, and he looks to be dangerous, exploiting any space he can find and turning it into a goal.
Denmark, on the other hand, didn’t win by such a great margin, but it was by no means a boring game. Thomas Delaney scored a header early in the first 5 minutes, and Kasper Dolberg made it 2–0 a few minutes before half-time. Despite a continuous hounding from the Czech Republic for an equaliser — an almost successful one after Schick’s goal to make it 2–1 — Denmark held them off, and are now well and truly on their way to the semi-final.
The last time these teams met in 2020, it ended with a 1–0 win to the Danish side after Christian Eriksen slotted away a penalty in the 35th minute, though it’s worth pointing out that by this time, the Three Lions were already down to ten men, with Harry Maguire receiving his second yellow card just over 30 minutes in. The stakes are much higher in this game, and in truth, nobody knows what will happen.
Whether the final result goes to England or Denmark, there is no denying that this upcoming game has the potential to be the best of the tournament that we’ve seen so far. One could even argue that both teams have already succeeded — Denmark has ridden the wave of support from fans to a position they have not been in for a very long time, while England has proved the doubters wrong by breaking the invisible wall that kept them from a semi-final for so long.
Nevertheless, Wednesday will come, and the two teams will battle it out. But who will take that coveted place in the final?
We will have to wait and see.