England v Denmark: Back the Three Lions to book final date

Denmark are likely to end England's run of clean sheets, but Paul Higham still thinks the Three Lions can book their place in the Euro 2020 final.

England explode into life against Ukraine

Any remaining critics of Gareth Southgate's England were blasted out of the water as the Three Lions smashed Ukraine 4-0 to book their place in a second major tournament semi-final in three years.

And they're favourites to go one better than in Russia by booking a first ever appearance in the European Championship final given the way they've made serene then impressive progress into the last four.

Make no mistake, England's success is still based around a defence that has matched the best ever in major tournaments by keeping five straight clean sheets to open up the competition - but they showed their goal threat in emphatic style in the last round.

'Defence wins championships' is a popular saying in the world of American Football, but it's been proved time and again in our football too. The problem now for Denmark is that if they try too hard to break down that defence England have shown to be ruthless in front of goal and capable of killing games off in the blink of an eye.

Southgate may well revert to a back three against the more dangerous Danes despite the success of the 4-2-3-1 against Ukraine, while the other big issue to decide upon is whether Jadon Sancho keeps his place ahead of the returning Bukayo Saka.

The form of both of those in high-pressure knock-out games shows how good England's squad is in forward areas, where there's no obvious drop-off in quality when changes are made.

The Ukraine game couldn't have gone any better and, along with having 60,000 fans in at Wembley, the return of Mason Mount, the goals of Harry Kane, being able to rest key starters while still having a fresh Jack Grealish and Phil Foden to call upon if needed shows England really are in a superb position.

Yes, the draw has been kind, but the way they've managed games has shown great maturity, both in Southgate and his players, and there's a collective belief in the plan and process that's never been evident in previous 'golden generation' squads.

They have everything in place to finally emulate the boys of '66 and make a major tournament final.

Fairytale side Denmark riding wave of emotion

Denmark provided a fairytale victory at Euro 92 when they came off the beach to win it all, but this miracle could be even greater given what they went through with Christian Eriksen in their opening game.

They understandably lost that Finland game, and the next against Belgium but from there they've showed why they're 10th in the FIFA rankings with emphatic wins over Russia and Wales before a battling quarter-final success against Czech Republic.

Kasper Hjulmand's side offer a real test for England, having won at Wembley in the Nations League just nine months ago - albeit with an early red card for Harry Maguire.

Kasper Dolberg has scored three in the last two games and provides the obvious threat up front, but Mikkel Damsgaard and Joakim Maehle will be dangerous if they line up together down the left as they did in the last game.

Eleven goals from seven different scorers tells you Denmark can score from anywhere and will provide the toughest test yet for England's as-yet impenetrable rearguard. They're much more than just an emotional team playing for Eriksen as there's plenty of skill and talent here.

Can free-scoring Danes dent England's defence?

Denmark's goal threat in obvious, and they've been a strong first-half team of late, leading to nil in their last four games here and not losing the first half in any of their last 17 games (W11 D6). That tallies with England conceding a first-half goal per game in their last four against a top 10 side.

On those stats Denmark are lively 5.5 outsiders to win in 90 minutes against 1.67 favourites England with the draw pegged at 3.6.

I don't think this game goes the full distance but for reference either team to win on penalties is 5.5 and both of their last European Championship semi-finals were settled by spot-kicks.

The biggest question of the game surrounds Denmark's ability to score, they're 1.73 to finally beat Jordan Pickford and with England expected to be able to find the net then both teams to score looks a touch generous at 2.2.

That said, if you're looking for a hint on a correct score prediction then note that incredibly all seven of the games between these two held at Wembley have finished 1-0. England are 5.5 and Denmark 12.0 to win by the odd goal.

You can see this going either way and Denmark's high-pressing will provide big problems, but both sides are now fully aware of the attacking threat the opposition provide and it's more likely that the game is decided in the latter stages.

The bookies really don't fancy goals with under 2.5 goals well fancied at 1.62 against 2.3 for the overs, but coming down the stretch there's definitely a chance at least three goals go in. Down the stretch is also where I expect England to take this game, given the quality of the changes they can make.

Kane now able to fire England into final

It's now 27 goal involvements in his last 26 games for Kane (18 goals, nine assists) after his brace against Ukraine, and his 2.1 quote for anytime goalscorer here makes him very backable - while England's star man Raheem Sterling is 3.1 to get back into the goals. His three goals so far have all been openers so 6.0 on him scoring first is also worth a look.

Despite not being a certain starter by any means, Grealish leads the way in the anytime assist market at 3.75 and it's hard to argue given his production with limited playing time. Luke Shaw has already laid on three goals and is an OddsBoost at 6.5 to make that four and with the form he's in you couldn't rule that out.

Raheem Sterling celebrating - 1280.jpg

Dolberg is 4.5 and Damsgaard 7.5 to score for Denmark, but given how they've shared the goals around, picking out a scorer is a tough task, given you'd expect the one to be their limit against this England defence.

Tottenham's Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg is Denmark's surprising assist leader with three so far, so taking the 8.0 on him doing it again is high on the list. He's slightly better odds to be booked at 8.5 here though and given the opposition I'm happier backing him to see yellow rather than set up a goal.

Denmark won't have the legs to continue to press for 90 minutes, and England have such great options off the bench to seal it late on when they've taken the sting out of the Danes. An early goal changes everything of course, but I don't see too much gung-ho early doors.

Instead, England should be able to manage the situation again, and if they strike first, as they should with their quality, then when Denmark pile forward then the Three Lions can kill the game off on the break.

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