Italy v Spain, Wembley Tuesday 8pm BST
Italy held firm against Belgium in the quarter-finals, winning 2-1 in Munich to reach the last four, but their victory came at a cost. Leonardo Spinazzola pulled up with an achilles injury and not only will he miss the rest of Euro 2020, but he is unlikely to step foot on a football pitch again this year.
Spinazzola’s absence is a huge blow for Italy. The Roma left-back had been brilliant before he was stretchered off in tears against Belgium. Emerson is expected to provide cover at left-back and Spain may target his rustiness. He started just seven matches for Chelsea last season, playing just 89 minutes in the Premier League. He looked solid enough when he started in Italy’s 1-0 win over Wales in the group stage, but Wales were reduced to 10 men early in the second half so he was not fully tested. Spain will put him under more pressure at Wembley on Tuesday night.
Roberto Mancini also has a couple of selection issues in attack. Federico Chiesa came in for Domenico Berardi on the right against Belgium and may keep his spot. Ciro Immobile will be fretting about his place after his disappointing performance against Belgium, with Andrea Belotti an option to deputise for the Lazio striker. Italy knocked Spain out of the Euros five years ago and they come into this game having not conceded a goal from open play in 13 matches. So, even with Spinazzola out, Italy are slight favourites.
Spain have won all four of their previous Euros semi-finals – in 1964, 1984, 2008 and 2012 – but they are facing a big test on Tuesday night. Luis Enrique is sweating on the fitness of Pablo Sarabia, who was forced off with an adductor problem at half-time during their win over Switzerland in the quarter-finals. Dani Olmo came on for Sarabia at the weekend and he is likely to stay in the team if the PSG forward does not recover in time.
Enrique will be keen to target Emersen in the Italy defence and he has an ideal weapon on the right flank in the form of Ferran Torres. The Manchester City winger has scored two and set up one of Spain’s 12 goals at Euro 2020, even if he did have a quiet game against Switzerland.
Pau Torres replaced Eric García at the heart of the defence for that quarter-final in St Petersburg and the Villarreal man may keep his place alongside Aymeric Laporte. The Manchester City centre-back is the only Spain player, aside from goalkeeper Unai Simón, who has been on the pitch for every minute of the tournament and he was given the day off over the weekend to recover full fitness.
Prediction: Italy 2-0 Spain
England v Denmark, Wembley, Wednesday 8pm
England eased to the semi-finals by thumping Ukraine 4-0 in Rome. Now back on home soil, they will be hoping to beat Denmark at Wembley and secure a spot in a European Championship final for the first time in their history. England’s two previous semi-finals – against Yugoslavia in 1968 and Germany in 1996 – both ended in disappointment.
Gareth Southgate must have breathed a sigh of relief when the full-time whistle was blown at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday night, as Harry Maguire, Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips all successfully made it through the game without picking up a booking and missing the semi-final.
With Bukayo Saka returning to full training, Southgate has no major injury concerns before the meeting with Denmark. However, he does face a tactical conundrum. He used a three-man backline in the 2-0 win over Germany before reverting to a 4-2-3-1 against Ukraine. Now he must decide whether to stick with a back four or twist to mirror Denmark’s three-man defence.
Like England, the Danes have a full complement of players available, bar Christian Eriksen of course. Yussuf Poulsen and Daniel Wass are likely to be used from the bench again, given that Kasper Dolberg and Jens Stryger Larsen impressed in their absence in Denmark’s 2-1 win over the Czech Republic in the quarter-finals. Andreas Christensen was taken off with 10 minutes to play on Saturday evening, but he is expected to start alongside Simon Kjær and Jannik Vestergaard at the back. Joachim Andersen is waiting in the wings if required.
England fans are understandably excited at the prospect of football coming home, especially after their convincing victory over Ukraine – the first time England had scored four goals in a knockout game at a major tournament since the World Cup final in 1966 – but Denmark should not be underestimated. Their wing-backs, and in particular Joakim Mæhle, have been instrumental in their success so far. The Atalanta full-back, who plays on the left even though he is right-footed, is a big attacking threat. He set up Kasper Dolberg’s goal in Denmark’s win over Czech Republic and also scored in Denmark’s wins over Russia and Wales. If left unchecked, the 24-year-old could run riot in north west London.
Even if Southgate moves to a three-man defence, Kyle Walker has a tough task on his hands to stop Maehle. The Manchester City full-back endured a couple of lapses in concentration against Ukraine but he has the recovery speed to ensure the minor mistakes are not capitalised upon.
Prediction: England 1-1 Denmark, and England to win on penalties