England and Netherlands to Square Off in Semis

by Ben Ayuko

{Image by ESPN}

The Netherlands turned around a tough test to topple Turkey after scoring 2 goals in 6min, to emerge victorious and book a spot in the Euro 2024 semi-finals against England.

England who, after a nervy end to their game against Switzerland, needed penalties to get through to the next stage.

This sets up an intriguing clash as neither team has really set the tournament alight this year. They have both been pragmatic in their approach to the game as they have always ended up doing what needed to be done to get to where they are now. What with Netherlands just about making it out of their group after finishing in 3rd place and with England being canonically labelled as “the most underwhelming team” in the tournament thus far. Both managers will definitely want to turn around the narrative and secure a spot in the final as they, surely, both believe that they could go all the way. But how would they go about it?

England, on paper, would definitely look like having the better team. Team Captain Harry Kane and Jude Bellingham have arguably been 2 of the best players in Europe this past season, both in contention for the coveted Ballon d’Or trophy while Declan Rice and Bukayo Saka have both enjoyed exceptional seasons at their club with the former in particular making a name for himself at his new club. They will definitely feel that they have the measure on Ronald Koeman’s side. However, given the fact that they have never, at any stage, really looked like winning any of their games against the “lesser” opposition, Gareth Southgate’s men will surely tread with caution as this Netherlands team will provide a much sterner test than they have come across in the tournament thus far.

In Cody Gakpo, the Netherlands have one of the players of the tournament thus far, no doubt, in part, due to the 3 goals (almost 4 last time out) he has scored which leaves him joint at the top of the top scorer standings. In fact, of the players remaining in the tournament, nobody has scored as many goals as he has. At the other end of the pitch, they have their captain and leader (and hopefully legend if all goes well) Virgil van Dijk, Gakpo’s club teammate, who is fresh off somewhat of a resurgent season at his club side and who is looking to prove all doubters wrong. Wout Weghorst, who has been every bit the definition of the term “Super-sub” could also inspire his team from off the bench if need be while Memphis Depay, the Dutch side’s leading man, will no doubt feel like he has something to prove at the top level of European football.

However it ends, it looks to be quite an intriguing clash. Both team’s footballing philosophies look primed to cancel each other out which means that it is very likely that the winner of this game will be determined purely by whoever wants it more.













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