Kasper Schmeichel can follow in his father’s footsteps, Spurs’ Hojbjerg is the surprise creative ace… and don’t forget the Brentford stars making an impact off the bench! Denmark are packed full of Premier League talent desperate to spoil England’s party
- England are full of confidence but face a stern test at Wembley on Wednesday
- Denmark have been in inspired mood in recent matches and continue to impress
- They are led by a group of Premier League players familiar with England’s threat
- Kasper Schmeichel and Co will be looking to end English hopes and reach final
- Find out the latest Euro 2020 news including fixtures, live action and results here
Excitement surrounding England’s Euro 2020 hopes has reached fever pitch after the comfortable win over Ukraine, but the challenge facing them on Wednesday night at Wembley is a far more competitive one.
Denmark’s tournament could not have got off to a worse start two weeks ago. The defeat by Finland paled into insignificance, with Christian Eriksen’s cardiac arrest on the pitch leaving his team-mates understandably shaken.
It appears to have inspired the squad though, and they pushed Belgium all the way in the match that followed. Since then, Denmark have comprehensively beaten Russia and Wales, before seeing off the Czech Republic to reach the last four.
Denmark’s Premier League contingent have helped lead the charge to the last four of the Euros
England will be roared on by home support at Wembley but Denmark are in inspired mood
An England side with huge momentum and a partisan crowd behind them is a daunting task, but it is one many of the Denmark team will be well prepared to face.
Kasper Schmeichel, Andreas Christensen, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Jannik Vestergaard are all well-versed in Premier League football, while Brentford duo Mathias Jensen and Christian Norgaard will soon be joining them in England’s top flight.
Sportsmail takes a look at the Premier League contingent looking to dampen England’s mood, and how they’ve fared at the tournament this summer.
Kasper Schmeichel has unsurprisingly played every minute of his country’s run so far, and is now just two matches away from following in his father’s footsteps.
Peter was part of the Denmark squad that defied the odds in 1992 to lift the Euros, and this is the furthest the country have got in the tournament since they lifted the trophy 29 years ago.
Kasper Schmeichel has played every minute so far and been a comforting figure for the team
Schmeichel came into the tournament full of confidence after helping Leicester to FA Cup glory, and he has brought that presence to the Danish backline.
As ever, the 34-year-old was a true leader during the Finland game, comforting Eriksen’s wife as she rushed onto the pitch while he was being given CPR.
Denmark have kept just one clean sheet so far, but only Belgium have put more than one goal past Schmeichel in a match, and it would be no surprise to see the Leicester man rise to the biggest occasion on his return to Wembley and thwart England’s attacking talent.
Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen has also started all five of Denmark’s matches, missing just nine minutes of action after he was brought off late on against the Czech Republic.
He won the star of the match against Russia after a superb display at both ends of the pitch helped secure his country’s place in the last 16.
Andreas Christensen was awarded star of the match award against Russia in the group stage
The defender scored a stunning goal from distance to help Denmark qualify for the last 16
Christensen won more aerial duels than any of his team-mates in the match and no Denmark player made more tackles, but it was his contribution in an attacking sense that will long be remembered.
The 25-year-old scored a stunning long-range strike with 10 minutes to go to put his side 3-1 ahead, just as Russia were piling on the pressure and pushing for an equaliser.
Playing on the right of a back three, Christensen is likely to be busy on Wednesday night dealing with the threat of Raheem Sterling, and that duel may have a major bearing on which side makes it to Sunday’s final.
With Denmark starting the tournament with a back four, Jannik Vestergaard found himself behind Simon Kjaer and Andreas Christensen in the pecking order.
He came on to replace his captain Kjaer in the opener against Finland, and the switch to a back three since then has seen the Southampton man become a regular on the left of the defensive trio.
Jannik Vestergaard did not start the first match against Finland but has been a regular since
Denmark have scored 11 goals this tournament – Spain are the only team with more – but it’s been the defenders leading the way in terms of the attacking threat.
Joakim Maehle has managed seven shots on target so far, and he is the only Denmark player to have more than Vestergaard who makes the most of his 6ft 6in frame from set pieces.
Between Christensen and Vestergaard, there is plenty of experience in dealing with the likes of Sterling and Harry Kane, while the Southampton defender will hope to ensure England do not look as dangerous from corners and free-kicks as they did against Ukraine.
Only Rodri made more passes than Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg in the Premier League last season, and the Tottenham midfielder has been just as keen to get on the ball at the Euros.
The 25-year-old has attempted nearly 100 more passes than any of his team-mates, boosted by the fact he has played 90 minutes in all five matches.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg missed a penalty as Denmark lost their opening group match to Finland
The midfielder broke down in tears after the win over the Czech Republic to reach the last four
They have been useful passes too. Hojbjerg assisted Yussuf Poulsen’s goal against Belgium, and provided another two assists in the following game against Russia.
Those three assists put him level with Luke Shaw for the tournament, and the Premier League pair have just Steven Zuber, who made four, to overtake before the end of the tournament.
Hojbjerg did miss a penalty against Finland as his side failed to get anything from the game, but that matters not now his side are within reach of the final on Sunday and his tears after the Czech Republic win showed just how much it means.
A return to Wembley for Mathias Jensen, who was part of the Brentford side at the end of May to win there in the Championship play-off final and earn their place in the Premier League for next season.
The midfielder has played 109 minutes of the Euros so far, and though he is yet to start a match he has been brought on from the bench in every game.
Brentford’s Mathias Jensen has been brought off the bench in all five of Denmark’s matches
His manager Kasper Hjulmand has trusted him in all scenarios too, whether Denmark were chasing the game against Belgium, or looking to run the clock down as they were against the Czech Republic.
The half an hour he was given against Wales was enough for him to register an assist, setting up Maehle’s goal as Denmark tore Rob Page’s side apart.
Hojbjerg and Thomas Delaney are a trusted midfield duo, but the ability to use five substitutes has meant Jensen has still regularly been called upon and is likely to feature at some point on Wednesday night.
Much like his Brentford team-mate, Christian Norgaard has not been used from the start at Euro 2020, but has made four appearances off the bench.
In both of the knockout matches so far, Norgaard has been brought on after an hour to replace Mikkel Damsgaard, with Hjulmand making that change to shore up the Danish midfield.
Christian Norgaard has been trusted by manager Kasper Hjulmand for important cameo roles
He had an impact when coming on for 28 minutes against Belgium too, with no player on the pitch making more passes during that period than Norgaard did.
The 27-year-old made his international debut last year against England in the Nations League, and was named man-of-the-match in the goalless draw.
Should Denmark find themselves ahead as the second half goes on, expect to see Norgaard brought on for the latter stages to make his side even more difficult to beat.
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