England v Denmark: Nations League – live! | Football
22 min: Some nondescript midfield faffing. “That kit Lineker is wearing is, without a doubt, the worst Everton strip of all time,” writes Jim Lynch. “It only lasted a season before being the first inhabitant of the bad memories bin now also occupied by Sam Allardyce.”
20 min: Mount’s persistence down the right instigates a game of pinball in the Danish box, and then a corner. From the set piece, Phillips swings into the mixer from deep. Kjaer sweeps clear with plenty of blue shirts lurking.
18 min: Rashford and Kane attempt a one-two on the edge of the Danish box, but get it all wrong. Eriksen is permitted to launch a counter, and though he’s got options either side, with England extremely light at the back, opts to welly wildly over the bar. What a waste.
16 min: Rashford has a crack from distance. It swerves and dips towards the bottom left, but it’s read well by Schmeichel. A nice open feel to this game. Both teams have looked lively in attack. So much for the conservative reputation of both these teams.
15 min: “Surely one of the small mercies of behind-closed-doors games should be that we don’t have to suffer the appalling England ‘band’. Poor show, Sky.” Andrew Goudie speaks for me. I suspect he speaks for all of us.
13 min: Mount sashays down the right and breezes past Delaney. As he enters the box, he waits for a nibble from behind, but Delaney smartly stands off, and Mount eventually runs out of time and room, the ball dribbling apologetically towards Schmeichel.
11 min: Hojbjerg crosses deep from the right. England half clear. The ball drops to Skov, who attempts to blooter home from 25 yards. That one’s off down the North Circular, halfway to Ikea.
9 min: Nothing comes of the second corner. But this is a fast start by Denmark, and England suddenly look a little unnerved. Maitland-Niles and Pickford conspire to make a meal of a simple backpass-hoof-clear routine, but eventually get the job done.
8 min: Poulsen makes good down the right and whips towards the near post. Dolberg looks to bundle home, but Coady prods out for a corner just in time. From the set piece, Eriksen pulls one back for Dolberg, who slapshots inches wide of the right-hand post. In fact the ball took a little nick off Phillips, and it’ll be another corner.
5 min: Maguire is booked for an ugly lunge on Poulsen. Studs up, just above the ankle. Poor form. He’s fortunate Poulsen didn’t make a big deal of that. He’s fortunate that he’s not been sent off. Poulsen meanwhile can count himself lucky that he’s not seriously injured.
4 min: James, a surprise selection at right-back ahead of Alexander-Arnold, starts confidently with a fine run down the wing, swinging a dangerous cross through the box. Not far away from Kane at all. The captain gives the full debutant the thumbs up.
3 min: Some cute play by Rashford as he tiptoes on the byline to the left of the Denmark goal. The Danish defence are, to a man, afraid to lunge in. Rashford flicks into the centre, but there’s nobody in
blue there to take advantage.
2 min: Kane latches onto a loose ball and drives down the middle of the park. He takes an early whack from distance, but his shot deflects off Christensen and loops harmlessly into the arms of Schmeichel, who will be grateful for the early touch.
Here we go … and England are wearing blue, while Denmark sport second-choice white. Gah! Anyway, the players take a knee: no room for racism. Then the hosts get the game underway.
The teams are out! The national anthems of Denmark and England ring around an empty, eerie Wembley. We’ll be off in a minute. “I suspect another lovely Hummel shirt may be playing no small part in a certain Italian Renaissance currently underway in L4 4EL,” opines Grant Tennille. It is a beauty, yes. Everton’s most eye-catching since this one, though look what happened in that.
Thomas Lund Hansen sends his Roligan regards: “Phil Neal might have scored against Denmark but over here we’ll always remember him for his handball at Wembley in 1983. Allan Simonsen scored from the spot, Denmark won, we qualified for Euro84 and went on to become – sort of – famous for the free flowing game known from WC 1986. On behalf of every Danish footy fan; thanks Phil Neal!”
Meanwhile on the same subject, sort of, Simon McMahon adds: “I always think of that Danish team of the mid-80s as Scotland in disguise. When you look at the Scots squad from Mexico 86 and the team that started the first group match against the Danes – Leighton, Miller, McLeish, Gough, Malpas, Nicol, Strachan, Souness, Aitken, Nicholas, Sturrock, then see that Paul McStay, Dave Narey, Frank McAvennie and Eamon Bannon were on the bench, and that Steve Archibald, Graeme Sharp and Davie Cooper were also in the squad, it’s a wonder we didn’t win the tournament at a canter. We decided to finish bottom of the group instead. Very Scottish, as was Denmark’s crash and burn v Spain. Kindred spirits.”
Gareth Southgate speaks! “The best teams back up the big results, and that’s the big challenge for us tonight … When we didn’t have the ball in the second half [against Belgium] we were almost able to dictate the game without the ball … What we’ve got to add tonight is a bit more attacking guile, more threat, more opportunities on goal … We need to get our wing-backs higher up the pitch … We have to be a bit more clever in our movements.” He also straight-batted a question about Harry Kane’s level of fitness, while completely bodyswerving references to the popular but still-benched Jack Grealish, and naughty-step-sitters Kieran Trippier and Ben Chilwell. A media management masterclass. It’s like PMQs only we learn even less.
Take a look at some of the players who have scored for England against Denmark! Tommy Taylor. Nat Lofthouse. Duncan Edwards. John Atyeo. Jack Charlton. George Eastham. Trevor Francis. Kevin Keegan. Phil Neal. Gary Lineker. David Platt. Michael Owen. Wayne Rooney. Emile Heskey. Joe Cole. Daniel Sturridge. Given the teams have only met 20 times before, that’s a lot of talent from a small sample. You could write a half-decent potted history of English football naming that lot alone. Anyone getting on the scoresheet tonight will find themselves in exalted company.
Jose Mourinho will be delighted to see Harry Kane return to the England starting XI. Muscle fatigue be damned; Gareth Southgate insists he’s taking no unnecessary risks.
Kane’s inclusion is one of five changes from the 2-1 victory over Belgium. Kalvin Phillips, Conor Coady, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Reece James also come in, the latter pair making their first senior starts. Kieran Trippier, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Jordan Henderson, Eric Dier and Dominic Calvert-Lewin drop out.
Denmark meanwhile name Christian Eriksen and Simon Kjaer. Both collect their 100th cap this evening.
England: Pickford, James, Maitland-Niles, Walker, Coady, Maguire, Rice, Phillips, Kane, Mount, Rashford.
Denmark: Schmeichel, Kjaer, Christensen, Skov, Delaney, Braithwaite, Eriksen, Dolberg, Wass, Poulsen, Hojbjerg.
Ah, Denmark. Any old excuse, eh?
They come to town tonight sporting a Hummel shirt not quite as iconic as that one. But still rather lovely, no? Christian Eriksen, who has plenty of experience at Wembley as a former Spur, will pull on that beautiful red top for the 100th time, looking for a win that would take the Danes to the top of Nations League A2.
England are favourites, though. They played out a drab 0-0 draw last month in Copenhagen but have since beaten the number-one team in the world, Belgium, 2-1. Another victory for Gareth Southgate’s side this evening will keep them top of the group, leaving them needing only a win over Iceland and a draw in Belgium to guarantee another appearance in the Nations League Finals. All to play for, then. It’s on!
Kick off: 7.45pm BST.