Peter Schmeichel claims Denmark are favourites to beat England at Wembley and reach the final of Euro 2020.
The former Manchester United goalkeeper, a hero when Denmark conquered Europe against the odds in 1992, believes they can take another step towards repeating history with his son Kasper in goal.
The Danes had an horrendous start in this tournament when Christian Eriksen suffered a cardiac arrest in their opening game against Finland, but they became the first nation ever to qualify for the knockout stage at the Euros after losing their opening two group fixtures.
Peter Schmeichel (left, pictured with his wife) believes Denmark are favourites to beat England
England and Denmark face off at Wembley tonight for a place in Euro 2020 final against Italy
Kasper Hjulmand’s side have beaten Wales and the Czech Republic to set up a semi-final date against England, with the winner facing Italy in the final at Wembley on Saturday.
Gareth Southgate’s team have home advantage and have yet to concede a single goal in five games, but Schmeichel still fancies Denmark to win.
‘If I’m honest, I think Denmark are favourites,’ he said.
‘The night Denmark played Wales in the last 16 was precisely 29 years after our win. I think that we are a very good footballing nation. We are currently ninth in the FIFA rankings. I think we’ve lost five games in 50. We qualify for all the big tournaments, we do well, we got to the quarter-finals of the World Cup.
‘We might be a small country but in football terms we’re up there. We think we can compete with anybody, we think we can have the same chance as anybody, but of course we don’t have the same number of quality players as other nations have.
‘So for us, it’s about creating an atmosphere and making sure everything is right on the day. Then it’s set up for us to make results.
‘I think it’s going to be tight. 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.
‘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.’
Schmeichel (far left bottom row) was part of the famous Denmark side who won the 1992 Euros
He believes fate could be at play after Denmark beat Wales 29 years to the day of ’92 triumph
The Danes have grown stronger the longer tournament has gone on, putting four goals past Wales in Amsterdam before beating the Czechs in the extreme heat of Baku.
Asked if Kasper is looking forward to facing England at Wembley, where he won the FA Cup with Leicester in May, Schmeichel told MUTV: ‘I’m absolutely sure. They obviously had a little bit of a difficult time in Azerbaijan, 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’s 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.’
Schmeichel says Denmark’s run to the semis has ignited huge interest at home, particularly after Eriksen’s collapse. The former Tottenham star has since recovered and will be a guest of honour at the game with his partner Sabrina and six of the paramedics who helped save his life.
Schmeichel insisted his son Kasper will be looking forward to returning to Wembley tonight
Denmark have gone football crazy as their team have embarked on a fairytale run to the semis
‘I had big hopes for this Danish team,’ said Schmeichel. ‘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 are very excited, of course they are. Football has not really been top of the agenda for many, many years. Other things have taken over, other sports, other activities, social media, gaming.
‘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.’