Manchester United legend Peter Schmeichel has claimed Denmark are ‘favourites’ to beat England in the second Euro 2020 semi-final.
Italy beat Spain on penalties in the first semi-final clash to book their place in Sunday’s final, where they will meet England or Denmark.
Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions have enjoyed a near flawless run to the semis, securing wins over Croatia, the Czech Republic, Germany and Ukraine without conceding a goal.
Denmark’s Euros began in traumatising circumstances as midfielder Christian Eriksen suffered a cardiac arrest on the pitch during their first game, but the Danes scraped through their group before beating Wales and the Czech Republic in the knockout stages.
Most expect England to progress to the Euro 2020 final at the expense of Denmark but Schmeichel has ramped up the mind games by insisting his nation are ‘favourites’ ahead of the semi-final at Wembley.
‘If I’m honest, I think Denmark are favourites,’ Schmeichel told MUTV. ‘I think it’s going to be tight.
‘There are great similarities between the managers. [They are] very similar in their approach, man management, how they want to play the game, [they’re] very flexible, they keep very solid at the back and in midfield and then they have creativity in the wider areas and people who are getting on the end of chances up front.
I really do believe this is very evenly balanced, in spite of what people may read in England. It’s very much about what happens on the day.’
Schmeichel, who helped Denmark win the 1992 European Championships, added: ‘I had big hopes for this Danish team.
‘It was a very difficult beginning for them in the Euros, but they’ve overcome a lot of that difficulty and have managed to produce some really, really exciting results. I think it’s well deserved that they’re in the semi-final.
‘People [in Denmark] are very excited, of course they are. Football has not really been top of the agenda for many, many years.
‘A lot of things have made football a secondary thing really but now, everyone’s talking about it, everyone’s excited, everyone’s watching it.
‘We had people who have never watched football in their lives driving from Denmark to Amsterdam to watch the team!’
Schmeichel’s goalkeeper son Kasper will of course hope to help Denmark end England’s Euros dream on Wednesday evening.
‘I’m absolutely sure Kasper is looking forward to it,’ Schmeichel senior said. ‘They obviously had a little bit of a difficult time in Baku playing in very hot conditions.
‘They had to stay overnight, travel back, they had one day in camp and then had to travel to England. So I’ve had limited time to speak to him but I’m sure he’s looking forward to it.
‘It is everybody’s dream, every player in the world, I can guarantee you that, to play at Wembley. So to play a semi-final, for a place in the European Championship final, at Wembley? It doesn’t get much better.’