Euro 2020: England not satisfied with semi-final, says Gareth Southgate as ‘powerful force’ Denmark await

A place in the final four is no longer an achievement for the Three Lions – just another barrier for them to break down

Miguel Delaney
Chief Football Writer
Sunday 04 July 2021 22:29
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Euro 2020: England fans climb Shaftesbury memorial fountain after Ukraine victory

Gareth Southgate says a semi-final isn't "enough to fulfil" his players, who see it as just the next barrier to be knocked down. England's game against Denmark will be this squad's second in successive major tournaments, but the country's sixth as a whole. No English side has gotten past the stage since 1966, and Southgate said the players would now feel unsatisfied if they didn't make the final.

We’ve knocked off so many hoodoos or perceived barriers already and I feel like this group of players will feel this is just the next challenge. I guess the interesting part for us is we won’t feel totally satisfied if it’s just a semi-final for us, whereas maybe three years ago – although there was massive disappointment after the semi-final – there was a feeling we’d come a long way. Now we’ve replicated what we did there, but that won’t be enough to fulfil the group. That’s a positive sign.

"Our group are ready to get to the next step – they are excited by that challenge.

"Of course, in tournaments some of the games unfold in really peculiar ways. We've seen that with some of the other matches. But they will be prepared and they will be ready mentally and we have got guys who have won trophies now and know what that has taken. But they have also gained confidence from that."

Southgate was nevertheless wary of the emotional wave behind Denmark, after Christian Eriksen's recovery.

"We talk about perspective in sport but we rarely have it. This was a moment that brought it home for all of us. I can also imagine what it has done for the Danish team, their bond. We are talking about the things we have been through but what they went through that day – the way their captain was and the way the group was – and how that would have connected with their supporters, that’s pretty powerful. They are riding a wave of emotion for certain and that’s a powerful force that’s coming to Wembley. Those things definitely have an impact on your thinking."

Southgate meanwhile confirmed that Bukayo Saka would be fit for Wednesday after missing the Ukraine game with a hip issue. The manager said the young winger actually declared himself available for Rome but the staff felt they could do with the benefit of seeing him on a pitch first.

"He should be fine. He did declare himself available for the game but we had not really had the chance to see him on the pitch and working at the level we felt would vindicate that decision. He will go back into full training with the group tomorrow and he should be fine."

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