Preview: Denmark vs. England

Seeking to qualify for the Euro 2024 knockout rounds with a group game to spare, England do battle with Denmark in Group C at the Deutsche Bank Park in Frankfurt on Thursday evening.

The two nations meet for the first time since the semi-finals of Euro 2020 when the Three Lions came from behind to win 2-1 after extra time at Wembley Stadium.

Match preview

Exactly 1,100 days after suffering a cardiac arrest in Denmark’s first game of Euro 2020, Christian Eriksen marked his return to the continental stage in heart-warming fashion as he netted the opening goal in Sunday’s Group C encounter with Slovenia.

The Manchester United playmaker chested down a superb flick from teammate Jonas Wind before poking home a first-time shot in the 17th minute. However, it was not quite the perfect comeback for Eriksen, as his opener was cancelled out by a deflected long-range shot from Slovenia’s Erik Janza 13 minutes from time, forcing both sides to share the spoils in a 1-1 draw.

Denmark boss Kasper Hjulmand admitted after the match that his side were “too passive” and lacked intensity in the closing stages, and he has encouraged his players to maintain their high energy levels for the entire 90 minutes if they wish to claim three precious points from at least one of their remaining two group fixtures.

Ranked 21st in the world by FIFA, Denmark have made themselves difficult to beat in recent months as they have only lost one of their last 13 international matches since March 2023, but the draw with Slovenia means that they have now won just one of their last six group fixtures at the European Championship (W1 D1 L4).

The Euro 1992 winners head into Thursday’s contest having won just four of their previous 22 meetings with England, and failure to claim maximum points will put them in danger of exiting the group stage at a second consecutive major tournament, after falling at the first hurdle at the 2022 World Cup.

Following a memorable debut season at Real Madrid, Jude Bellingham inspired England to an important 1-0 victory over Serbia in their opening Group C match on Sunday, ensuring that the Three Lions’ quest to banish the demons of Euro 2020 began in positive fashion.

The floodgates were seemingly primed to open when 20-year-old Bellingham powered home a header from Bukayo Saka’s deflected cross in the 13th minute, but England failed to capitalise on their early dominance which led to a nervy second half, as they were forced to soak up pressure from a much-improved Serbian outfit.

Nevertheless, Gareth Southgate can take positives from a defensive perspective as his side showed “resilience” to quell the threat of Serbia. England eventually held on for maximum points and subsequently sit two points clear of both Denmark and Slovenia, knowing that victory against the former on Thursday will see them qualify for the last 16.

England have become the first nation in European Championship history to keep five consecutive clean sheets in the group stage of the competition, while they have not tasted defeat at the group stage since their Euro 2004 opener against France, recording eight wins and four draws since then.

Interestingly, England will be bidding to win their opening two matches at a Euros tournament for the very first time when they face Denmark on Thursday, but success against the Danes is not a given considering that they have failed to win any of their previous three competitive meetings in 90 minutes.

Team News

Denmark boss Hjulmand may decide to stick with the same starting lineup on Thursday, with Crystal Palace’s Joachim Andersen, former Chelsea man Andreas Christensen – now at Barcelona – and Leicester City’s Jannik Vestergaard all retaining their places in a three-man defence, protecting 37-year-old goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.

Joakim Maehle will be pushing for a recall at wing-back at the expense of either Alexander Bah or Victor Kristiansen, while Tottenham Hotspur’s Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg is set to links arms with Morten Hjulmand in centre-midfield.

Man United striker Rasmus Hojlund has scored seven goals in 15 international caps for Denmark and is expected to continue up front alongside Wind, with Eriksen operating in the number 10 role.

As for England, Southgate will weigh up whether to stick with the same starting lineup or look to make one or two changes, with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Phil Foden potentially at risk of dropping down to the substitutes’ bench.

Alexander-Arnold began in centre-midfield alongside Declan Rice against Serbia and could keep his spot on Thursday, but it would not come as a surprise to see one of Conor Gallagher, Kobbie Mainoo or even Adam Wharton handed a start at the Liverpool man’s expense at some point during the group stage.

Foden, meanwhile, struggled to make the desired impact on the left flank. The Manchester City star would prefer to operate centrally or on the right, but both Bellingham and Saka seem nailed in their respective positions, so Foden is seemingly poised to continue on the left, unless Southgate opts for a change in personnel and hands a start to one of Anthony Gordon, Cole Palmer or Eberechi Eze.

Denmark possible starting lineup:
Schmeichel; Andersen, Christensen, Vestergaard; Bah, Hjulmand, Hojbjerg, Kristiansen; Eriksen; Wind, Hojlund

England possible starting lineup:
Pickford; Walker, Stones, Guehi, Trippier; Alexander-Arnold, Rice; Saka, Bellingham, Foden; Kane

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