England v Denmark: Duo to keep it tight, again

England may have just beaten top-ranked Belgium but Denmark are more than capable of keeping Wednesday's Nations League clash tight, says Andy Schooler.

England v Denmark
Wednesday October 14, 19:45
Live on Sky Sports Main Event

New challenge for England

They've just beaten the world's top-ranked team, sit top of their Nations League group and are favourites for next summer's European Championships but still the critics demand more from England and their boss Gareth Southgate.

Still, he knew what comes with the territory when he signed on the dotted line at the FA and doesn't seem the type to take much notice of the noise outside.

Pre-match criticism of some of his selections against Belgium on Sunday (and those left out, notably Jack Grealish) looked a tad shabby after they'd posted a 2-1 win.

What was particularly impressive was how, after a shaky start, England were able to adapt and close the Belgian attacks down. Southgate clearly made tweaks at the break with England solid throughout the second half.

There will be changes too for this clash with Denmark, a quick rematch of the sides' goalless draw in Copenhagen last month.

Southgate effectively said when selecting his squad that no player would start all three games in this international window so that means Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Kieran Trippier will both drop out.

Harry Kane appears to have been saved for this match, while it would be no surprise for Ainsley Maitland-Niles to get his chance to shine in the left wing-back position.

Still, the core of the tam will still likely be the same as the one which beat Belgium - after all, England are now in a strong position to win the group and qualify for next year's Nations League Finals.

The weekend victory was achieved largely because of England's defensive play and it was notable that Southgate was keen to heap praise on that effort.

He spoke of "phenomenal" pressing, "concentration" and having to be "perfect without the ball". He added: "We defended as a team - you have to."

Danes tough to beat

While the Danes won't pose as many problems as the Belgians, don't expect those aspects to be forgotten. It's clearly been a well-drilled message and it's highly unlikely Southgate will now throw caution to the wind.

After all, Denmark are a good side, who have long been tough to beat.

Their 2-0 home loss to Belgium at the start of this Nations League campaign was their first defeat in 35 games (a strike-hit friendly aside). They've reacted well too, keeping three successive clean sheets with their draw against England followed in this window by a 4-0 thrashing of the Faroe Islands and a 3-0 victory in Iceland.

New boss Kasper Hjulmand played a full-strength side at the weekend and got his rewards. With relegation to League B now looking unlikely, he's now looking up the table, knowing a win at Wembley would pull his side level on points with the Three Lions.

Stalwarts Christian Eriksen and Simon Kjaer both look set to win their 100th caps in this contest with the former well known by English fans for his excellence in midfield, not to mention goals.

Attacking left-back Robert Skov is a newcomer on the international scene and one to watch. He has four goals in his seven games so far. But one highly-rated youngster who will miss the game is Andreas Skov Olsen, injured against Iceland.

Three Lions odds-on

The Danes are 5.30 for the win they really need with England at 1.76.

The latter price will tempt some, especially after Sunday's result, but Denmark can again be expected to make life difficult for them.

Their lack of losses is based on solidity at the back where Chelsea's Andreas Christensen is a key figure and Leicester keeper Kasper Schmeichel is a real presence.

They restricted England to just two shots on target in the reverse fixture and it's hard to see the hosts carving out chance after chance.

Expect goal-shy repeat

I'm therefore keen on a repeat for the bet which delivered in that first game in Copenhagen - namely under 2.5 goals.

1280 Gareth Southgate Denmark.jpg

If, as expected, Southgate sticks largely with the same team, England could be a little jaded after Sunday's big effort - and it was only a week or so ago that Southgate was speaking about fitness levels not being 100 per cent just yet.

They were stifled by the Danes in Copenhagen and the visitors will likely try a similar gameplan. They had slightly the better of that contest and Hjulmand will know with the extra fitness gained over the past month that his side are far from without a chance.

Taking out games against minnows Gibraltar, this bet has landed in 13 of Denmark's last 17 competitive internationals.

It can do so again on Wednesday at 2.00.

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