Betting Expert’s Joe Ryan previewed England’s semi-final clash with Denmark alongside former international Wayne Bridge and broadcaster Rory Jennings, who were both in agreement that there is something ‘special’ about this particular tournament.
As England prepare to face Denmark in a tense Euro 2020 showdown this evening, their opponent has already been decided after Italy defeated Spain in a penalty shoot-out to secure their place in the final.
“I can’t take the smile off my face,” Bridge, who represented his country between 2002 and 2009, remarked. “I think everyone in the country and everyone I’m speaking to, even the people that say ‘let’s not get ahead of ourselves’, I think everyone feels like something special is happening this year.
“We’ve done well but we haven’t set the world alight. We’ve just gone about everything so well and I love the way Gareth has dealt with everything. His interview after the game I loved where he brought up the players who haven’t made it onto the pitch and how he thinks about them players.
“The togetherness that we seem to have is just brilliant. He gave credit to the players that haven’t been playing but they still feel that togetherness with everyone that’s involved in the squad.”
Although football fans across the continent have been made to wait for Euro 2020, after the tournament was delayed by a year due to the pandemic, Jennings added that England’s campaign could top that of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
He began: “It’s been a really good tournament. It’s captured me. I remember being very invested in Russia 2018 – that felt like a good tournament – but I spent a month in Brazil in 2014 and obviously Roy Hodgson was such a clown for that tournament and it kind of ruined it.
“I don’t think that any tournament in recent years has been on par with this one, both in terms of England doing so well lighting a fire in me, but the standard of football has been great and the goals we’ve seen scored have been great.
“I think we’ve had the best day in football history with the game where France ended up being eliminated. What a single day of football that was.”
Touching on potential team selections ahead of this evening’s showdown, Bridge was full of confidence in Southgate’s choices.
However, he also urged the players to remain grounded, with in-form Denmark presenting a tough test for England.
“You just don’t know,” he said. “I never would’ve thought Sancho would’ve played and of course, it was due to a knock. I think we’re definitely going to see Rice and Phillips, and I think you’re going to see Mount, Sterling and Kane. It’s all a matter of who takes that right-sided slot. We’ve got options.
“We are all very excited and it’s still a tough game. No tournament semi-final is ever easy. Everyone is there on merit. As long as they’ve got their feet firmly on the ground which I’m sure they will have, Gareth will have made sure he told them we’ve got a long way to go.”