Roy Hodgson fears penalties for ‘absolutely perfect’ England

Jose Mourinho also expects England to progress to Sunday’s Euro 2020 final

Former England manager Roy Hodgson believes Gareth Southgate's side have been "absolutely perfect" during Euro 2020.

Hodgson, 73, who spent four years in charge of the national team until 2016, said he expected England to beat Denmark in Wednesday’s semi-final at Wembley.

“I’m very confident indeed because I think the England team is playing so exceptionally well from the start of the tournament really,” he told ITV’s Good Morning Britain.

“In fact, they have been faultless. I can’t think of anything to criticise, although I’m sure there are people who do find something.


“But they must be hard pushed to find something. It’s been absolutely perfect. Of course in football, as I heard someone say earlier, there is an element of hazard, there is a random chance.

“But I’m very certain England will play well and it will be a very good game. Sometimes games are decided by random factors and the fact that you’re a very good team doesn’t always help.”

Hodgson said the Wembley crowd will “play a major part” but is dreading the prospect of a penalty shoot-out.

“My main hope tonight is that the game won’t go to penalties,” he added. “You can argue that the penalty shoot-out is better than the flip of a coin, but it is a very cruel way to lose matches, in particular because the player who misses the penalty is often vilified afterwards.”

Hodgson spent four years in charge of England, leading them at both Euro 2012 and Euro 2016 and also the 2014 World Cup finals.

England lost on penalties to Italy in the quarter-finals at Euro 2012, but crashed out in the round of 16 to Iceland at Euro 2016 and finished bottom of their group at the 2014 World Cup.

Jose Mourinho also expects England to progress to Sunday's final and feels they have too much firepower for the Danes to contain.

“I expect the talented players of England, because they have so many on the pitch, and so many on the bench, that they can come later and create new difficulties and new intensity in the game,” Mourinho told TalkSport. “That’s what I expect to happen.

“England has better players in attack and hopefully from there they’re going to beat (Denmark), if England dominate them from a defensive point of view, which I think they will.

“If you compare the talent of especially the England attacking players and the Danish attacking players, there is clearly a difference.

“(Raheem) Sterling, (Harry) Kane, I don’t know, (Bukayo) Saka or (Phil) Foden or (Jadon) Sancho or (Marcus) Rashford or (Mason) Mount — it’s non-stop.”

Former Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp said Denmark should not be underestimated, but was also tipping Southgate's side to come out on top.

“It’s going to be a very tough game tonight,” Redknapp told GMB. “They’re a very good team with some outstanding players who play in our Premier League every week.

“Kasper (Schmeichel) is an incredible goalkeeper and they’ve got defenders who play in the Premier League and a midfielder (Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg) who plays for Tottenham and some real quality in their team.

“But I do think England have been in fantastic form and on the back of Saturday’s result against Ukraine we should be feeling very confident.

“Tonight should be a much tougher game but I think we’ve got enough to just about win the game.”

However, ex-Denmark goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel disagreed with his fellow pundits and said Kasper Hjulmand's side "knows how to win".

Denmark's run at the tournament has come in remarkable circumstances after star turn Christian Eriksen suffered a cardiac arrest in their opening match.

“I’m very confident about the Danish team,” Peter Schmeichel told GMB. “You might think this run of form has come from the incident with Christian Eriksen, it hasn’t, it’s a team that’s played 44 games and lost three so it’s a team that knows how to win and how to play.

“It’s a team that’s been in the making for four years and we have a new coach who has taken over that incredible building work and added some extra elements to it and made it a lot better.”