Published 06 July 2021 4 min read
England Men's Senior Team

Breaking barriers

Written by:

Dom Smith

Three Lions pair aiming to go one step further than 2018 and 2019 as they approach EURO 2020 semi-final

England manager Gareth Southgate and captain Harry Kane have been speaking to the media ahead of Wednesday’s EURO 2020 semi-final against Denmark.

“We’re very excited about the game, that’s for sure,” said Southgate, who will be leading England into their third semi-final in as many years under his management.

Wembley Stadium’s capacity will be hiked once more, and up to 60,000 fans are expected to be in attendance. “We know that we’re going to have tremendous support throughout the country — that’s a great feeling for us.”

Southgate is also wary that Denmark are a leading side in international football and England will have to be at their best to progress to the final having recently played the Danes twice last autumn, drawing 0-0 and losing 1-0 in Nations League group matches.

“Our preparation has been calm and we know that we’re playing a really good opponent," he added.

 

"We knew that before the autumn. We knew even more so after the games in the autumn. It’s going to be a really tight game, and an exciting game for everybody.

“These players are making massive strides and breaking barriers all the time. We’ve broken barriers in this tournament, and we have another opportunity to do that tomorrow. We’ve never been to a European Championship final, so we can be the first which is really exciting for everybody.

“We believe that this squad can get even stronger as they gain even more experience. But you can never determine in tournaments how things are going to play out. When you get to the latter stages, you realise that these are the moments you have to capitalise on."

Harry Kane will make a special presentation to the Danes ahead of kick-off on Wednesday
Harry Kane will make a special presentation to the Danes ahead of kick-off on Wednesday

Fresh from his own personal two-goal haul against Ukraine in the quarter-finals, Three Lions skipper Kane is proud of how his teammates have negotiated their first five fixtures of the tournament.

And he believes Southgate’s squad depth and the Three Lions’ defensive solidity can be used as advantages against the Danes.

“Obviously we’ve got a fantastic squad," he said. "We’ve had great clean-sheets in this tournament; our aim is to try and get another one tomorrow night. We’ve got great options all over the pitch and we’ve got great competition for places all over the pitch.

"It gives the manager a great headache to have, and whoever is called upon on the day will go out there and do a job for the team. It’s about performing on the matchdays.”

England reached the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup, but lost to eventual finalists Croatia who had never previously been to a major tournament final and Kane is desperate to go at least one step further this time round.

“That’s a lot of talk going into this semi-final," he added. "It’s a chance for us to go one step further than we did in Russia in 2018. It’s a great opportunity for us to go and achieve that.”

England will also make a presentation for Denmark and former Tottenham Hotspur star Christian Eriksen before the match, after his cardiac arrest midway through Denmark’s first group game sent shockwaves through the football world.

Eriksen is now on the road to recovery and supporting Denmark from afar as they’ve steadily grown into this tournament and Kane spoke glowingly of his former Spurs teammate.

“I’m good friends with Chris, and it will be sad to not see him there. He’s a big part of [Denmark’s] success over the years. It was a terrible thing that happened to him. The main thing is that he’s recovering well. I’m sure he’ll be rooting for Denmark! There will be a presentation to show our support from all of us here at England.”

England versus Denmark in the EURO 2020 semi-final will be played at Wembley and will be live on ITV in the UK at 8pm BST on Wednesday.

ENGLAND V DENMARK OPTA STAT PACK