England are hoping to reach their first major tournament final since 1966 as they take on Denmark tonight.
Gareth Southgate’s men will walk out at Wembley knowing a win will set up a first-ever Euros cup final tie with Italy next weekend.
National optimism and pride is at an all-time high following England’s performance in the knockout stages – which saw the Three Lions defeat old foes Germany in the round of 16 before walloping Ukraine 4-0 in the quarter-finals.
These pulsating victories followed 1-0 wins over Croatia and Czech Republic in the group stage, where England also drew 0-0 with Scotland.
Southgate’s men are yet to concede a goal all tournament.
Nonetheless, their opponents for the evening are sure to provide a stiff test.
Denmark have defied all expectations by making it to the semi-finals – with many predicting the squad to crumble in the wake of the horrific incident during their opening Euros group game.
The Danes’ talisman Christian Eriksen collapsed suddenly and unexpectedly after suffering cardiac arrest in the game with Finland. The midfielder was given emergency medical assistance and has since recovered in hospital – much to the relief and delight of the footballing world.
Denmark went on to lose their first two matches of Euro 2020 – 1-0 to Finland and 2-0 to Belgium. But since then the side have shown tremendous resolve to turn into the surprise package of the tournament – proceeding to wallop Russia 4-1 in their final group game before battering Wales 4-0 in the last 16.
They defeated Czech Republic 2-1 in the quarter-final on Saturday – and are now hoping to write an even greater fairytale than the one that saw them lift the continental trophy at Euro ’92.
And it sounds like they’re confident they can do it.
When Danish goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel was asked about what Denmark would be doing to prevent ‘football coming home’, the Leicester goalkeeper responded with a cheeky dig.
“Has it ever been home? I don’t know, have you ever won it?”
Support for this gutsy Kasper Hjulmand Denmark side has grown louder with every passing day – but cheers for the Red & Whites will be largely drowned out by a raucous England following this evening.
60,000 fans are allowed into Wembley – but travel restrictions will prevent many Danes from attending. 6,000 tickets have been made available to Danes living in the UK – with the Danish FA sending 1,000 jerseys to London.
The winner of England v Denmark will meet Italy in the final – who edged out Spain on penalties last night (July 6) following a 1-1 draw after extra-time.
The hype has been building all week. But Southgate says he is keeping his feet on the ground.
“Our preparations have been calm and we know we are playing a very good opponent,” the England manager stated.
“It’s going to be a really tight game and an exciting game for everybody.”
Richard Keys and Andy Gray to give first UK TV interview since sexism scandal
Former Sky Sports presenting duo Richard Keys and Andy Gray are set to give their first UK interview since they were sacked for a number of sexist remarks back in 2011.
Once regular mainstays on the Premier League‘s long-term broadcasting partner, Keys and Gray haven’t made any British media appearances since their high-profile scandal which highlighted the prevailing sexism in football at the time and, sadly, is still underlying throughout large sections of sport today.
Now, after being approached by fellow controversial TV personality Piers Morgan, the punditry pair will be discussing the incident on national television for the first time in more than a decade, as well as reflecting on their careers since then.
Keys and Gray have been consigned to working on the Qatari network beIN SPORTS since 2013 after they went from being among the most well-known sports commentators to two of the most vilified public figures in the early 2010s.
For anyone still unaware even all the years later, the two Sky employees were caught making a number of sexist comments towards then lineswoman, Sian Ellis-Massey, in a leaked audio recording during which Keys remarked: “someone better go down there and explain the offside rule to her”.
Responding to the jibe, Gray responded by saying “Can you believe that, a female linesman… women don’t know the offside rule”, before his partner in crime responded, “the game’s gone mad”.
Ellis-Massey went on to become the UK’s first female referee and remains one of the leading officials in English football, having also adjudicated games in the Europa League and Women’s World Cup.
To make matter worse, a clip of Keys making similarly inappropriate and offensive remarks while having a conversation with Jamie Redknapp in the Sky Sports studio was also unearthed shortly after, as the lead anchor made a series of crass jokes about sex with the footballer’s former girlfriend.
Speaking in a now infamous BT interview shortly after, Keys insisted that his behaviour was “just banter” and seemed to offer little genuine remorse following the outburst.
Gray has also had little to say about his “unacceptable comments” in the years following, so it’s fair to say a fair few people will be tuning in to watch how the two approach this sit-down.
Andy Gray and Richard Keys’ Piers Morgan Uncensored interview airs at 8pm on TalkTV on Monday, 28 November.
Featured Image — beIN SPORTS/Piers Morgan (via Twitter)
Marcus Rashford finally responds to ‘idol’ Cristiano Ronaldo’s United departure
Marcus Rashford has finally responded to the news of former teammate and role model Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure from Manchester United during Sunday’s England press conference.
The 25-year-old was speaking at the Three Lions’ World Cup pre-match presser ahead of their final group game against Wales on Tuesday, but media personnel couldn’t help but ask him about the saga.
Rashford has made no secret of his admiration for the club legend over the years – even modelling his knuckleball free-kick technique after him – and while Ronaldo‘s legacy might no longer be what it once was, he had only positive things to say about playing alongside the sporting icon.
The Man United number ten was just 12 years old and playing in the academy set-up when the Portuguese star first left the club back in 2009.
“It has been an unbelievable experience to play with him”, Rashford told reporters in Qatar, adding: “He is one of my idols and someone I always looked up to. It’s something I can keep with me forever.”
He went on to wish the all-time leading club and international goalscorer the best for his future and thank him “for the things he’s done for Manchester United.”
Like most fans, Rashford will no doubt be conflicted over the way Ronaldo ended up leaving the club but, as a peer, cannot easily forget what he achieved at the club and throughout his career as a whole.
The Wythenshawe native is one of few players to have addressed the stormy situation at Old Trafford in recent weeks, with fellow club and countrymen Bruno Fernandes insisting that doesn’t need to “take a side”.