Euro 2020 semi-final England v Denmark: Bukayo Saka expected to start for England

England face Denmark in the semi-finals of Euro 2020 and it’s a tough ask for Gareth Southgate’s men at the Spartak Stadium in Moscow. The Three Lions come into the match on the back of a 1-1 draw with Switzerland in their last outing which has left them just three points clear of the Danish side in their bid to reach their first ever semi-finals of a major tournament.

Publicly, UK manager Gareth Southgate has been a man of few words, but privately he’s been frustrated by his lack of options in the heart of England’s defence. Most notably, the country’s captain Harry Kane has been ruled out for the rest of the tournament following a nasty ankle injury sustained in the quarter-final victory over Sweden, while Danny Rose and Chris Smalling have suffered injuries in the weeks since, leaving Southgate with a defence consisting of John Stones, Kieran Trippier, Ashley Young and Kyle Walker.

Date: Wednesday, 7 a.m. July. Begin: 20:00 BST. Location: Wembley Stadium. Scope: Listen to the live commentary on Radio 5 Live. Excerpts on One at 23:20 BST; full replay on One at 00:55 on Thursday; text commentary, coverage and excerpts on the sports website.

Bukayo Saka is expected to start in place of Jaydon Sancho in the Euro 2020 semi-final against Denmark on Wednesday.

Arsenal striker Saka, 19, excelled in the win over Germany on 29. June in the 1/16th finals.

It is expected to be the only change to Gareth Southgate’s starting line-up at Wembley as England attempt to reach the final of their first major tournament since the 1966 World Cup final.

Saka missed Saturday’s 4-0 quarterfinal victory over Ukraine due to injury.

Sancho made his first appearance of the tournament in the eighth final match in Rome.

England have a very special chance in the semi-final – Southgate

England can write history

Southgate tasked England’s players with making history by beating Denmark in front of 60,000 fans at Wembley Stadium and reaching a European Cup final for the first time.

We don’t have as good a footballing past as we sometimes want to believe, Southgate said. These players are making great progress.

England have never progressed beyond the semi-finals of the European Championships.

Yet excitement is growing – and hope has turned into expectation – that Southgate’s team can finally win.

England, who also ended 55 years of drought by beating Germany in the round of 16, are the highest-ranked team in the tournament, in fourth place in the world rankings.

We have broken down barriers in this tournament and we have another chance to do so, Southgate added.

We’ve never reached a European final and we could be the first English team to do so, which is very exciting.

Southgate said knowing the country is supporting the team is a great feeling for us.

Cars and houses have been decorated with English flags and pubs have been given permission to keep their doors open for an extra 45 minutes on Sunday until 11.15pm BST in case the final at Wembley, which starts at 8pm, ends in extra time and penalty kicks.

We are ready to play, the players are ready, they have a lot of experience, they have been in this situation themselves, added Southgate, who led England to the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup.

Our preparation was relaxed and we know we are playing against a very good opponent. It will be a very intense and exciting match for everyone.

Euro 2020: Gary Lineker says England were close to perfection

Southgate is confident his players can handle the pressure against Denmark, who won the European Championship in 1992.

We had expectations throughout the tournament and I think we handled them very well, for example in the opening game and the game against Germany, he said.

But we’ve never been to the finals, so the pressure can be as great as you want. It motivates us, it challenges us.

If we were a country that had won five titles and needed to keep up with where we were before, I might think differently. But it’s not. Denmark won, so maybe there is more pressure on them to repeat that success.

England fans will sing the Football Comes Home anthem during the tournament, which was first sung when the Three Lions finished in the first four at Euro 96.

Asked what it would mean to crush England’s European Cup dreams at home, Danish goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel said: He’s never been home? I don’t know. Did you ever win one?

But according to Harry Kane, England captain, the team has every chance to pull through.

He is right that we are not at home yet in this league, but we are in good shape with two games to go, Kane added.

It’s important that we focus on Wednesday night and only think about ourselves and what we can do. We know that if we do well, it will be enough to get us over the line.

Bukayo Saka is expected to start Wednesday’s Euro 2020 semi-final with Denmark in place of Jadon Sancho.

Arsenal forward Saka, 19, was outstanding in the last-16 victory against Germany on 29 June.

It is expected to be the only change in Gareth Southgate’s starting line-up at Wembley as England look to reach a first major tournament final since the 1966 World Cup final.

Saka missed Saturday’s 4-0 quarter-final win against Ukraine with injury.

Sancho made his first start in the tournament in the last-eight game in Rome.

England have ‘very special opportunity’ in semi-final – Southgate

‘England can make history’

Southgate has challenged his England players to make history by beating Denmark in front of 60,000 fans at Wembley to reach the European Championship final for the first time.

“We don’t have as good a football history as we like to believe sometimes,” said Southgate. “These players are making massive strides.”

England have never got further than the semi-final stage in a European Championship.

However, there is mounting excitement – and hope has turned to expectation – that Southgate’s side can finally triumph.

England, who also ended a 55-year wait for a knockout tie victory over Germany with their last-16 success, are the highest-ranked side still left in the tournament at fourth in the world.

“We’ve broken down barriers in this tournament and we have another opportunity to do that,” added Southgate.

“We have never been to a European Championship final so we can be the first England team to do that which is really exciting.”

Southgate said knowing the country was behind the team is a “great feeling for us”.

Cars and homes are decked out with England flags while pubs have been given permission to stay open an extra 45 minutes until 23:15 BST on Sunday, in case the final at Wembley – which kicks-off at 20:00 – goes to extra time and penalties.

“We are ready for the game, the players are ready, they have got tremendous experience themselves having been in this situation before,” added Southgate, who led England to the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup.

“Our preparations have been calm and we know we are playing a very good opponent. It’s going to be a really tight game and an exciting game for everybody.”

Euro 2020: Gary Lineker says England have been ‘near to perfect’

Southgate is confident his players can handle the pressure against Denmark, who won the European Championship in 1992.

“We have had expectation during the whole tournament and I think we dealt with that really well in the opening game, for example, and the game with Germany,” he said.

“But we have never been to a final so the pressure is whatever you choose it to be really. It’s a motivating thing, a challenge for us.

“If we were a country that had won five titles and had to match what had gone before then I might feel differently. But we’re not. Denmark have won it so maybe there is more pressure on them to replicate that.”

England supporters have been serenading their team through the tournament with chants of ‘Football’s Coming Home’, the anthem that first became popular when the Three Lions reached the last four of Euro 96.

Asked what it would mean to ruin England’s dreams of Euro glory on home soil, Denmark keeper Kasper Schmeichel said: “Has it ever been home? I don’t know. Have you ever won it?”

But England captain Harry Kane said the team was in a strong position to put that right.

“He’s right in terms it hasn’t ‘come home’ in this competition for us, but we’re in a great position in that we are two games away,” added Kane.

“It’s important our focus is on Wednesday night and is about us and what we can do. We know if we can get it right then it should be enough to get us over the line.”

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is Saka playing for England?

No, he is playing for the Netherlands.

Have England conceded a goal in Euro 2020?

No

How can I watch England v Denmark?

England v Denmark will be shown live on BBC One and BBC Sport website.

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