England vs Denmark: A new-look Hojbjerg, Vestergaard’s ‘weapon’, set-pieces - the biggest threats to Three Lions in semi-final

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3-min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Getty Images)
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Getty Images)

Denmark’s emotional run to the semi-finals of Euro 2020 has brought them plenty of support, but also potentially masked quite how threatening a side they are.

Kasper Hjulmand has forged an impressive team who are comfortably more than the sum of their parts, despite losing their talented talisman Christian Eriksen after his cardiac arrest.

England have a difficult task on their hands to reach Sunday’s final, and here Standard Sport assesses Denmark’s key threats.

New-look Hojbjerg

For Premier League fans Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg has built a reputation as a hard-nosed defensive midfielder during his time with Tottenham and Southampton.

The 25-year-old is playing a far more advanced and creative role with his country.

In fact, Hojbjerg has created as many chances as Belgium’s Kevin de Bruyne (10) at Euro 2020, albeit having played one more game.

Just one player has more assists than his three at the tournament so far and the former Bayern Munich man has completed more passes than any of his Danish team-mates.

Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen’s instruction to step out of the back three into holding midfield at times means Hojbjerg has more freedom to get forward and cause problems.

Hojbjerg is proving, in the absence of Eriksen, to be Denmark’s most creative presence and will be looking to make his mark at Wembley.

Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips will need to keep an extremely close eye on their Premier League rival.

Joakim Maehle (Getty Images)
Joakim Maehle (Getty Images)

Marvellous Maehle

Joakim Maehle had long been on the radar of English clubs before his move to Italy in January.

This summer, the Atalanta defender is showing just what those clubs have missed out on.

The 24-year-old is a right-footed wing-back capable of playing on either side of Denmark’s back five but has been starring on the left this summer.

Maehle has two goals and an assist — a fine cross for Kasper Dolberg in their win over the Czech Republic — at the tournament and his form and threat may well prompt Gareth Southgate to revert to a back-three system, as he did for the win over Germany.

Towering team

England were expecting a physical battle when they met Ukraine in Rome but found themselves faced with a side sapped of all energy.

It will be a little different at Wembley.

Not only are Denmark an imposing side with their style of play, but they’ve travelled far less than Ukraine and pose a significant threat in the air.

In Andreas Christensen, Jannick Vestergaard and Simon Kjaer, Hjulmand has towering height on his side.

Set-pieces have been key to Southgate’s England in the past and they began to click once more against Ukraine, with Jordan Henderson and Harry Maguire both heading home from dead-ball situations.

Beating the Danes from corners and free-kicks may prove more tricky.

Jannick Vestergaard (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Jannick Vestergaard (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Vestergaard weapon

England’s defence is yet to be breached.

There have been lucky moments (how did Thomas Muller miss?) but by and large they’ve been too well drilled for their opponents.

Any defenders will always be wary of a quick switch of play and Vestergaard has created problems with his raking, diagonal passes.

The 28-year-old honed his trademark pin-point ball out from the back over a successful season at Southampton, often sending Kyle Walker-Peters racing in behind helpless defenders to create a chance.

Given the threat posed by Denmark’s wing-backs, who like to press high, the Three Lions will have to be wary when the ball is at the feet of Vestergaard.

Fast starters

Hjulmand does not like his players to hang around.

Twice this summer they have been ahead within five minutes — Yussuf Poulsen netted after two minutes against Belgium — and they often begin with attacking intent.

England are likely to face a side who are prepared to have a go from the off.

Germany posed challenges but were not prepared to go hell-for-leather.

In a tight, tense semi-final, the old cliche of the first goal being pivotal could hold true.

Read More

Harry Maguire insists England now have belief that was missing at 2018 World Cup as they target first major final since 1966

Gareth Southgate’s flexibility has been key to the flawless defensive record that has set England on the path to glory

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting