England fans would have been rubbing their hands with glee when they eliminated the Germans in the round of 16, with a 2-0 victory at Wembley Stadium. On the ‘easier’ side of the draw, away from the likes Belgium, Italy and Spain, before a ball was even kicked in the quarter-finals, many said England already had one foot in the final, and after breezing past Ukraine with a 4-0 victory in Rome, only Denmark stand in the way of the Three Lions’ first major final since 1966.
With Gareth Southgate’s side finally discovering their rhythm in the knockout stages after a well-below-par group stage — where they narrowly scrapped past Croatia and the Czech Republic, either side of a bore draw with Scotland — it’s no surprise really that England are the odds-on favourites to beat the Danes at Wembley — 4/6 to be precise, if you’re looking for a bet on England v Denmark at the Euros.
However, England must ensure that they do not underestimate Kasper Hjulmand’s men. Yes, getting this far in the tournament is a massive achievement for the 1992 European Champions, but they will not be ready to go home just yet, and with a whole nation urging them on, each and every member of the squad pushing each other to the end, and the spirit of wanting to do it for Christian Eriksen, they will be no walk in the park.
‘En Del Af Noget Større’ — meaning ‘a part of something bigger’ — is the Danish FA’s motto, and it’s fair to say that the side have stuck by those five important words more so than ever throughout this tournament. When Eriksen collapsed in Denmark’s opener against Finland in Copenhagen, the courage and spirit shown by his teammates, led by captain Simon Kjær, was immense.
They formed a barrier around the Inter Milan midfielder, hiding him from the cameras and the distressed home crowd while he received life-saving treatment, and the horrific scenes from that day seem to have spurred Denmark on, and even without their talisman, they have done the unthinkable in reaching the last four of the Euros.
AC Milan defender Kjær recently claimed that the Eriksen incident ‘did something to the group’ and that there’s more trust than ever amongst the squad. However, whilst he also admitted that the side have achieved their pre-tournament goal, he and the squad certainly aren’t ready to go home for their hero’s welcome just yet.
“It’s huge. It’s insane,” the 32-year-old said after the 2-1 victory over the Czechs in the last round. “It is an insane achievement we have made with the team, but also with the staff, with all the people around. They must never be forgotten, the people behind and the things we have been through.
“We had like a goal before we went into this camp that we were going back to Wembley, and we are now. But I’d also be lying if I said that we’re okay with reaching the semis.”
Team spirit is one thing, but Denmark have the players as well. Kasper Dolberg, who replaced the injured Yussuf Poulsen ahead of the last 16 clash with Wales, has three goals in the knockout stages and will be a real threat at Wembley, whilst the likes of Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, Andreas Christensen, Joakim Mæhle, Thomas Delaney and Martin Braithwaite have all performed admirably as well.
With just 5,000 fans amongst a 60,000-crowd at Wembley, the worry for Denmark is that their passionate fanbase will be drowned out in London. They have spurred the side on in their numbers in Copenhagen, Amsterdam and Baku to this point, but with coronavirus restrictions, only those who live in England will be allowed to attend the game.
Denmark may be the least favoured of the remaining four sides in the EUROs winner odds. However, they cannot be discounted that easily and with the European Championships no stranger to throwing up surprise winners, who knows what could happen?