Should England be in panic mode after disappointing draw vs. Denmark?

Should England be in panic mode after disappointing draw vs. Denmark?

Published Jun. 20, 2024 7:48 p.m. ET

If "It's coming home" at Euro 2024 for England, the journey back just hit a detour.

Just how big a detour is the question.

England entered Euro 2024 as one of the favorites to win the tournament, with a roster led by superstars such as captain — and England's all-time leading scorer — Harry Kane, stellar young midfielders Jude Bellingham and Phil Foden — who won respective player of the year awards last season in La Liga and the English Premier League, respectively — and stalwart possession players like midfielder Declan Rice and defender Kyle Walker among others.

Yet after hanging on for a 1-0 win against Serbia in its opening Euro 2024 match, England was unable to clinch a spot in the knockout stage Thursday and instead had to settle with a 1-1 draw against Denmark. The Danes often put pressure on England's defense, and less than 20 minutes after Harry Kane's goal put the Three Lions up 1-0, Denmark equalized on a stunning strike from Morten Hjulmand


Despite entering as underdogs (+260 to draw, +450 to win outright on BetMGM), Denmark completed more passes, had more tackles and forced more corner kicks than the heavyweight Three Lions. How did the Danes go toe-to-toe with an England roster full of household names?

On "FOX Soccer Now," analysts Jimmy Conrad, Melissa Ortiz and Ari Hingst argued it was because while Demark seemed more like a cohesive unit, England's star-studded squad more resembled exactly that — an all-star team rather than one that knows how to play together.

Denmark vs. England Highlights | UEFA Euro 2024

"Denmark … They actually play as a team," Hingst said. "They're passing, they're connecting. For me, this English side looks disjointed. They are all just individual skill [sets] showing, and that's just really risky. If they want to have a good tournament, they've got to be playing better than today."

To Hingst's point, the vast majority of players of England's roster play for high-profile Premier League teams. The only two main players that do not — Kane and Bellingham — play for German and Spanish powerhouses Bayern Munich and Real Madrid, respectively, and are constantly in the spotlight as well.

"We see so much of these Premier League players on our TV, it's arguably the most marketable league in the world," Conrad said, "That sometimes now when they get together [on England] and coming to international tournaments, we just expect them to win three, four or five to zero. But then to Ari's point you get an organized team like the Danes who maybe we aren't as familiar with with every single player, but they can come in and fight and have some grit and they demonstrate they have some talent as well."

Ortiz, however, believes those expectations are not just external. After all, several key England players are coming off stellar club seasons for name-brand teams like Bellingham's Real Madrid, which won another Champions League, and Foden's and Walker's Manchester City and Rice's and Bukayo Saka's Arsenal, which finished first and second in the Premier League, respectively. 

"We expect so much out of this team, but also I think they expect so much of themselves too," Ortiz said. "Not only because of the height but because of who they are and what they've done even in their respective leagues."

Hengst pointed out, though, that England still earned a point in arguably the world's most difficult international soccer tournament, and remain in pole position to win its group after the second matchday.

Denmark vs. England Reaction: Is it coming home? | FOX Soccer NOW

"We're criticizing England on a really high scale," Hingst said. "What we should not forget is the quality of this tournament, of these Euros. … England [was] facing a really good team. And in this tournament, we can't expect England to really go out there with a big bang and really performed really, really well. 

"England won their first match. They tied in the second game. That kind of looks familiar to back in the days when Germany was successful. Start building it up into the tournament, then grow better and better and suddenly they're going to be winning it. … Definitely we're disappointed by this English team but still, [they're] sitting on four points. That's not that bad, is it?"

Ortiz agrees, and still believes there is a solid chance England can come together and make another deep run like they did in that last Euro tournament three years ago.

"But I do still believe highly in this team and the leadership that they have, whether it's Harry Kane or even a young leader that's becoming more of a leader in Jude Bellingham," Ortiz said. "I do think the next game [against Slovenia, will kind of set them up for success so that they could grow their their their focus their motivation and build out to the rest of the tournament."

England's stars need to make sacrifices to win: Jude Bellingham, Phil Foden | Euro Today

Conrad was slightly less confident, saying that the issue with having so many superstars in the attack like Kane, Bellingham, Foden and Saka means that it's hard to share the ball in a way where all four stars can get involved to the best of their abilities. As he pointed out, while Kane scored and Foden had moments of excellence Thursday, Bellingham struggled and Saka did not see much time with the ball. 

Hingst, however, took the opposite tack as to why she believes England's ceiling is low this tournament.

"We all know the saying," she said. "Forwards, offense, they score goals, they win games. Defense wins championships. Last Euros, England had one of the best defenses. It was hard to score against them. They just got unlucky against Italy [in the title game penalty shootout]. 

"This year, I don't see them having such a strong defensive line. Today, we saw Declan Rice — normally really solid — in this game, he had ups and downs. Trent Alexander-Arnold, we're talking about whether this the right position [for him]. So that's why I have my doubts. They're always going to score. No matter how good or bad Bellingham Foden and Kane and Saka are playing, they're always going to find a way to score. I have no doubt about that. But to actually win this tournament, they need a better defensive performance."

England plays its final group stage match of Euro 2024 against Slovenia at 3 p.m. ET Tuesday on FOX and the FOX Sports App.

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Harry Kane
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