Former England midfielder Chris Waddle has tipped Harry Kane to make the difference as Gareth Southgate’s men attempt to find a way past Denmark and into the Euro 2020 final.
The Three Lions will face the Danes in the semi-finals at Wembley on Wednesday evening having booked their place with an impressive 4-0 demolition of Ukraine in Rome on Saturday with Kane scoring twice.
Waddle, a veteran of the heartbreaking last four defeat by West Germany at the 1990 World Cup finals, is expecting a tight encounter, but believes England’s captain could hold the key to success.
Waddle told BBC Radio 5 Live: “I think they’ll get chances – they’ve proved that in every game they’ve played, Denmark, they’ve had a lot of chances. Whether they take them or not is a different thing. That’s what it’s all about on the night.
“I think England will create chances. England are very strong at set-pieces, but saying that, Denmark are. It’s a good match-up.
“There’s never a lot between England and Denmark. They’re both strong, physical, willing runners, defenders are big, strong, again set-pieces.
“When you look at the teams and you match them up, the difference may be – and he’s hit form now, for me – the difference on the night could be Harry Kane.”
Waddle is also confident Southgate, who handed Jadon Sancho his first start of the competition at the Stadio Olimpico, has bigger strength in depth than both Denmark counterpart Kasper Hjulmand and Italy boss Roberto Mancini, whose side face Spain in the other semi-final.
He said: “He’s got 26 players in that squad he finds hard to leave out because you’ve got basically two teams.
“You look at Italy and Denmark – their first X1s, maybe first 13 or 14, are very, very good, but they haven’t got the strength in depth that England have got, and that’s hopefully going to be a good advantage as the tournament kicks on.”
Keeper Jordan Pickford is yet to concede a goal in the tournament and one of his predecessors, David James, has been impressed with his contribution and those of the men ahead of him.
James told Sky Sports News: “This defence starts at the front. The whole England side defends together.
“Jordan Pickford in goal hasn’t put a foot wrong with regards to costing us any chances against. He made a big save early on in the game and he’s got to be buzzing at the moment.
“But what I do like – and I think this is the key thing, the way Gareth talks about this – this isn’t about individual success, this is about a collective and the defence in front of Jordan, Jordan behind the defence, the whole team just looks so solid.
“It really is a good time to be an England fan.”
Former England striker Emile Heskey praised the flexibility Southgate has instilled in his squad and his ability to change system and tactics both before and during games.
Heskey told 5 Live: “Gareth has shown that many a time now, throwing curve-balls, but they actually work, different formations, different tactics, when to press, when to sit back and when to consolidate.
“He’s done fantastically in that, whether it be playing a back three and playing the wing-backs high, or playing a back four and really going out there and being expansive, he’s been fantastic and he’s shown an array of tactics.”
Former Middlesbrough mifielder Neil Maddison, who took his coaching badges alongside Southgate, and has been hugely impressed with how he has moulded his squad.
He told 5 Live: “I just think his decisions have been really good. No one expected Jadon Sancho to start – I didn’t expect him to start – but what a brave decision it was, and it was the correct decision.
“I just think he’s got a group of players that are going to work hard for him and they understand him.
“He was a player and he understands how players want to be treated and they understand what they’re going to give back to the manager, and you can see it on the pitch. They were just ready for it.”