Party atmosphere breaks out in Trafalgar Square as England thrash Ukraine
Roberto Mancini’s Azzurri have been the tournament’s most impressive team, topping Group A in style before seeing off plucky Austria and then No 1 ranked Belgium last time out. Spain have enjoyed a rollercoaster ride and were staring at elimination in the group stages before turning on the style against Slovakia. They then survived extra-time against Croatia before coming through the lottery of a penalty shootout against Switzerland in the quarter-final.
The two meet at Wembley Stadium tonight in the first of the tournament’s final four matches. England, meanwhile, are preparing for the other where they will meet Denmark. Bukayo Saka, who missed the thrashing of Ukraine on Saturday with injury, is back fit and available again meaning boss Gareth Southgate once again has a clean bill of health to work with.
We will bring you all the latest from inside the England camp as well as all the build-up from Wembley throughout the day:
Italy vs Spain: Azpilicueta praises La Roja’s mentality for Euro run
Defender Cesar Azpilicueta has praised the side’s mentality ahead of tonight’s semi-final against Italy, as La Roja aim for their first tournament final since Euro 2012.
“It’s true that we didn’t have a good start to the Euros in terms of results – because the play, our domination, didn’t translate into results,” the Chelsea right back told the Guardian.
“I think the team is doing incredible work. It’s true that in the 10 minutes before extra time against Croatia there were plays we should have defended better and we lost the ball.
“We improved that in extra time, which tired them and allowed us to control the game. We have the ambition and hope of an entire country. We know that when you get to this stage against a team like Italy you have to take care over every detail.”
Jamie Braidwood6 July 2021 15:14
Italy vs Spain: Bonucci eyes revenge for the Azzurri
Italy defenders Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini are the only survivors of the Azzurri side who were thrashed 4-0 by Spain the final of Euro 2012, while Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba are the only players from La Roja to still be in the squad.
Spain were the dominant force in world football back then, but the tide has since turned with Italy now the favourites ahead of tonight’s semi-final.
“The final in Kiev [in 2012] leaves a very bitter taste in the mouth because we were all out of puff by the time we got to that game,” Bonucci said. “We were short on ideas and short on energy. That was a fair result on what we saw that day. Tomorrow will be a very open game and both sides will want to play their own game.”
The defender added: “Spain have been criticised but Luis Enrique was right to shield their team and unite the group even more. They are very united in their starting XI and the entire squad. When you meet such a mentally strong team, the game is always difficult. But if we show the Italy of the last 30 games, we can certainly achieve the result we want.”
Jamie Braidwood6 July 2021 14:53
England to gift Christian Eriksen signed shirt, reveals Kieran Trippier
England’s players will gift Denmark’s Christian Eriksen a signed shirt before their semi-final clash on Wednesday, Kieran Tripper has revealed.
The right-back is a former team-mate of Eriksen’s and said the England squad were shocked by the midfielder’s collapse during Denmark’s opening game of the tournament, but praised how the country has responded in making the last four of the tournament.
“With everything that went on with Christian, they’ve shown that real togetherness and have done really well and deserve to be where they are,” Trippier said. “They have a very good team and if anyone thinks it will be easy they are mistaken as it will be a tough game.
“We’ve played them twice in the last year and a half and it will be tough. We just need to focus on ourselves. We have been working hard since the last game and we’ll be ready as soon as we cross that white line. We want to win, it’ll be tough but hopefully we will.”
Jamie Braidwood6 July 2021 14:41
Wright-Phillips – ‘Grealish has to start’
Shaun Wright-Phillips believes England international, Jack Grealish, 25, has to play in the game on Wednesday night at Wembley.
Grealish has become a pivotal figure off the bench for Southgate and Wright-Phillips believes he could be best utilised with a starting position against the Danes.
He said via SBK Sportsbook: “For the Denmark game, I’d go with Jack Grealish. I’d like to see him play, especially on the right.
“He wins a lot of free kicks and causes a lot of problems, which is something we need to start doing on both sides.
“If we can have that on both wings, it gives Harry Kane more of a chance to score.”
Omar Garrick6 July 2021 14:28
Wright-Phillips – ‘Southgate is the one’
Former England international, Shaun Wright-Phillips, has claimed Gareth Southgate is doing a fantastic job as manager, ahead of the crucial semi-final match against Denmark on Wednesday.
Southgate has exceeded expectations in reaching back-to-back semi-finals in two major international tournaments and Wright-Phillips, 39, believes he’s built a squad full of confidence.
“Of course, I would have enjoyed being a part of this squad. The way Southgate’s got them playing is good for the nation and our chances of winning things for years to come,” he told SBK Sportsbook.
“I think he’s done it incredibly (managing the squad). He was questioned a lot, as expected, with Maguire and Henderson both travelling, but he’s answered all those questions by putting them both on.
“I think he conducts himself really well. He doesn’t get too ahead of himself and he doesn’t think too negatively.
“The bond between the players is unbelievable and they seem to be playing with a smile on their faces, which normally means you’ll get the best out of your players.”
Do you agree with Shaun Wright-Phillips?
Ben Burrows6 July 2021 14:22
England ‘better prepared’ for semi-final
Gareth Southgate believes England’s recent semi-final experience means they go into Wednesday’s last-four clash with Denmark better prepared than at previous tournaments.
The Three Lions are bidding to reach a first major tournament final since 1966, having fallen just short at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, where they lost in the semis.
England then suffered more semi-final disappointment in 2019 as they were beaten by Holland in the Nations League.
But Southgate insists the experience gained on those two occasions will help England as they prepare for Wednesday’s Wembley showdown.
“We are better prepared for this semi-final in that we’ve lived it before. We’ve had another two semi-finals prior to this one.
“And although that doesn’t determine winning or losing a game of football, there are a lot of factors that we are aware of and we have dealt with before that help you to prepare in a better way.
“For example, after the game in Rome the celebrations were at a certain level, where probably in Russia – to get through the first knockout game, to get through the quarter-final, took a lot of emotional energy.
“In Rome, it was important to go and thank the fans who turned up in such numbers but everybody was quite calm about what was going on and we knew we hadn’t achieved what we want to achieve yet.
“So those things I think are what prepare you for a big match like this.”
Ben Burrows6 July 2021 14:00
England squad train in full ahead of Euro 2020 semi-final
England’s full squad trained ahead of Wednesday’s Euro 2020 semi-final against Denmark.
The Three Lions have yet to concede a goal let alone lose at this summer’s rearranged competition and have the chance to reach a first major tournament final since winning the World Cup in 1966.
Gareth Southgate’s 26-man squad all trained at St George’s Park on Tuesday morning ahead of the Wembley semi-final.
Bukayo Saka was again with the group having recovered from the knock that saw him omitted from the squad against Ukraine as a precaution.
Ben Burrows6 July 2021 13:53
England’s semi-final appearances
England will face Denmark on Wednesday looking to reach their first major tournament final since 1966. It will be the fifth time the Three Lions have played in the semi-finals of a major tournament, not including the 1968 European Championship when only four teams qualified for the finals.
Here, we take a look at how England got on in their previous last-four encounters.
England 2 Portugal 1 – 1966 World Cup semi-final (Wembley, London)
Portugal went into the clash boasting a 100 per cent record and with talismanic forward Eusebio having scored seven goals. However, it was hosts England who would emerge victorious at Wembley thanks to a brace from Bobby Charlton, who struck in the 30th and 80th minutes. Portugal pulled a goal back from the penalty spot, Eusebio inevitably getting on the scoresheet again as he sent Gordon Banks the wrong way, but the Iberian nation could not find an equaliser. The rest, as they say, is history.
West Germany 1 England 1 (West Germany won 4-3 on pens) – 1990 World Cup semi-final (Stadio delle Alpi, Turin)
In what was England’s biggest game since winning the trophy against the same opponents 24 years previously, Bobby Robson’s men suffered the agony of a penalty shootout exit. The match finished 1-1 after extra-time, with Gary Lineker firing home a late leveller after Andreas Brehme’s deflected 60th-minute shot had looped over a back-peddling Peter Shilton. In the shootout, all of the first six takers scored with their efforts. However, Stuart Pearce and Chris Waddle then missed either side of Olaf Thon’s successful effort as England, for the first time at a major tournament but not the last, tumbled out on spot-kicks.
Germany 1 England 1 (Germany won 6-5 penalties) – 1996 European Championship semi-final (Wembley, London)
A familiar opponent and a familiar outcome as England fell short once again. Alan Shearer got the tournament hosts off to a flying start when he headed in the opener after just three minutes, but Stefan Kuntz slid home an equaliser soon after. Neither side could find a winner during regulation or extra-time, meaning a penalty shootout was required. After all 10 players scored, it went to sudden death where Gareth Southgate saw his effort saved before Germany captain Andreas Moller smashed the decisive spot-kick into the roof of the net to send his side through to the final.
Croatia 2-1 England – 2018 World Cup semi-final (Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow)
It was England’s first major semi-final for 22 years when their journey came to another agonising conclusion with an extra-time defeat to Croatia. Southgate’s side had been given an ideal start through Kieran Trippier’s 20-yard free-kick after just five minutes, but Ivan Perisic scored a 68th-minute equaliser to send the game into extra-time. England had defied expectations going into the tournament, but Croatia’s experience shone through as Mario Mandzukic’s winner saw them progress to face France in the final. PA
Lawrence Ostlere6 July 2021 13:33
England vs Denmark: Team news
Southgate once again has a clean bill of health to work with with forward Bukayo Saka, who missed the win over Ukraine with a knock, back fit and training again. All four of the players who had picked up a booking during the tournament – Harry Maguire, Declan Rice, Kalvin Phillips and Phil Foden – emerged unscathed from the quarter-final and now see those yellow cards wiped from the records.
Much of the debate over the last two games has been the change of shape, from a back four to a back three and back again, with Southgate now likely to stick with the system that was so successful in Rome. That is likely to mean an unchanged backline with Kyle Walker keeping his place at right back with Kieran Trippier another option to consider having started against Croatia and Germany.
Denmark kept the same side that thrashed Wales for the quarter-final win over the Czechs and could opt for continuity again with no new knocks. Captain Simon Kjaer shook off an injury to start that one in Baku and will start again with Yussuf Poulsen, fit enough only for the bench last time out, the likeliest possible change although Kasper Dolberg scored in his absence and could keep his place.
Premier League fans will be familiar with Kasper Schmeichel in goal, Chelsea’s Andreas Christensen in defence and midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg of Tottenham. Atalanta wide man Joakim Maehle has been outstanding throughout the tournament while Mikkel Damsgaard of Sampdoria, thrust into the starting line-up in Eriksen’s absence, has also been hugely impressive.
Lawrence Ostlere6 July 2021 13:18
Spinazzola – a big miss for Italy?
This is a key point. Spinazzola offered so much going forward and defensively with his pace. He will be a big miss for Roberto Mancini, but Spain must capitalise on his absence. Ferran Torres and Pedri could be key, should they start!
Omar Garrick6 July 2021 13:06