Italy will be the toughest game for England at Euro 2020 by a country mile.
England got just about through against Denmark. They got themselves back into it via an own goal. But that was because they put pressure in wide areas and forced their way back in.
I can’t be the only one who thought Denmark’s substitutions were strange? Once their forwards went off they were never going to score. I can’t work out why Kasper Hjulmand did that because it severely cost them in the end. They had nothing upfront after that. The players like Kasper Dolberg seemed fine to me when they came off, but Denmark lost their way after that.
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It never looked like they were going to score a goal in extra-time. When you look at the game, you’d say the better team won. But let’s be fair, it wasn’t a penalty. That decision really disappoints me. You’ve got VAR and you’d think they would see that and think that’s not a penalty, let’s have the referee look at it again.
I think if the referee had had a look, he would have seen that it was not a penalty. There was no contact. He would have given a yellow for diving to Raheem Sterling and that’d be it. I know UEFA have said it wasn’t a ‘clear and obvious error’, but they can use all the words they want, they can’t hide the fact they failed with that decision. It is as simple as that.
England weren’t brilliant against Denmark, but they got the job done. The Danes were always there and those substitutions really derailed them. England haven’t been exciting or played anyone of great note. We’ll be tested on Sunday, that’s for sure. I think the pleasing factor is we conceded a goal. You only concede goals if teams make an effort to score one and Denmark showed that. Now we can stop talking about our incredible defensive record.
If you want to talk about conceding goals, look at the Italians. They went over 1,000 minutes without conceding a goal and are 33 games unbeaten. If that was us, PR people would be paid millions to blast it everywhere. The Italians do not get enough credit for what they’ve done. And they’ve played some great teams. They’ve had to work at both ends of the pitch.

How can England beat Italy?

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 06: Jorginho of Italy celebrates with Matteo Pessina and Domenico Berardi after scoring their sides winning penalty in the penalty shoot out during the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Semi-final match between Italy and Spain at Wembley

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We’re going to need the same kind of luck we had against Denmark to beat Italy. Roberto Mancini has players who want to prove a point. That makes them dangerous across the pitch. Italy have been the most consistent performers in the tournament. We have the crowd, however unfair that might be.

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England have to kill the tempo, get the referee they had against Denmark and be very lucky to beat Italy. Danny Makkelie was the worst referee I’ve seen at Euro 2020, except from our English ones. The Italians will want to keep it sharp and play high tempo and if we allow that to happen, we’ve got a problem. The other side of it is, the Spanish kept the ball and moved Italy around.
We can’t do that, we can’t keep the ball like the Spanish do. We’ve never been a side where ball retention is key to winning games.

Who will face Italy?

Denmark's goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel (L) catches the ball in front of England's midfielder Bukayo Saka during the UEFA EURO 2020 semi-final football match between England and Denmark at Wembley Stadium in London on July 7, 2021

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Bukayo Saka will start against Italy. I can’t see Gareth Southgate doing anything drastic. Who else could he bring in? I think he’ll stick with the same team. Southgate hasn’t played the same team on the bounce for 30-odd games, but I think for once he will.

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He’s got Jack Grealish coming off the bench. I don’t think Southgate will try to match Italy. They’ve got too many good players. We’ve got to understand that Italy will keep moving the ball and it’ll be quick.

No issue between Grealish and Southgate

Gareth Southgate, Head Coach of England speaks with Jack Grealish of England before he is substituted on during the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Semi-final match between England and Denmark

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It’s not a nice thing to happen to a player, but England won the game, nothing more can be said or should be said. People will try to make issues between Grealish and the manager, but there is none.
Grealish will know he was involved in a good win that took England to their first major final in 55 years. When a substitution works like that, there’s nothing you can say.
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