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    Tactical Analysis: England vs. Denmark

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    Excerpts of this Tactical Analysis: Spain vs. Italy article from July 8, 2021 by Wepea Buntugu (@Wepea_) are courtesy of Breaking the Lines

    “They walk into Wembley as the sporting god’s intended it. Spirit lifting frenzy, stomach churning fear. Thrill competes with jeopardy – beyond this for England or Denmark, the ultimate game or nothing. A semifinal underpinned by a gripping narrative with an energizing edge.”

    An introduction worth its weight in gold and fit for any occasion by the highly esteemed Peter Drury – as the two teams stepped out onto the turf to a chorus of cheers and applause from both sets of fans who were anticipating an engrossing showdown. At stake, a birth in the Final. England prevailed in the end to progress into their first European Championship final – at the 37th attempt – with a nervy 2-1 win (after Extra-Time), over the mettlesome Denmark.

    Without a doubt, the surprise package of the tournament, The Danes made a great account of themselves throughout the competition, having endured a distressing opening game with the loss of Christian Eriksen. The lack of depth in their ranks combined with fatigue proved too tall an order as they grew weary late on, succumbing in the extra period.

     It wasn’t a straightforward win for The Three Lions as they were stunned by breakout star, Mikkel Damsgaard, on the 30-minute mark with a wondrous free-kick from 25 yards out. The recently turned 21-year-old did not only break the deadlock in style but his goal also meant that Jordan Pickford’s new record of 720 plus minutes without conceding a goal for England (previously set by the legendary Gordon Banks in 1966) wouldn’t last a minute longer.

    The Everton goalkeeper and England’s first concession in this year’s finals. Even though Gareth Southgate’s men had started the brighter of the two sides, Denmark now had the upper hand and were frustrating Harry Kane and Co. with relentless pressure, opting for a high defensive line that had worked well thus far.

    The English soon found a breakthrough in the 39th minute to level the scoreline, as Kane dropped a bit deeper, in turn, playing in Bukayo Saka who had made an incisive run behind, catching out the opposition backline – scurrying back to defend, Simon Kjær turned the ball into his own net, attempting to cut off a simple square ball intended for Raheem Sterling at the back post from Saka. It was the first own goal that has ever gone England’s way at a EURO. Parity restored. 1-1.

    With Wembley buzzing heading into the second half, neither side could make further inroads as the subsequent 45 minutes ended one apiece with both teams evenly matched and struggling to create clear-cut chances. Harry Maguire came closest for England, with a leaping header that was parried away by Kasper Schmeichel. Going into extra time, the hosts looked the likelier of the two to go ahead, as they pushed for the go-ahead goal.

    It proved to be so. A controversial penalty was awarded in the 104th minute, following what was adjudged to be a foul on Sterling near the byline in the box. Kane stepped up to take in the ensuing spot-kick, eventually dispatching the rebound after Schmeichel had repelled the initial effort by the skipper: the marksman’s fourth goal of EURO 2020 and his 15th against Schmeichel in all competitions. 2-1 England. 

    It was all about running down the clock and keeping their cool from then on for Southgate, bringing on Kieran Trippier in place of the attack-minded Jack Grealish. Denmark jostled to get back into the game late on but ultimately it was to no avail, as England made history. Not necessarily a thoroughly cogent performance from them but effective, setting up a date with the Azzurri on Sunday – a team on a 33-game unbeaten run and like England, have a stubborn defense led by Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini.

    For the rest of the analysis by Wepea Buntugu (@Wepea_), please go to

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