Netherlands vs England: Semi-final preview and tactical battles « Khabarhub
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Netherlands vs England: Semi-final preview and tactical battles


10 July 2024  

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Netherlands and England meet in the UEFA EURO 2024 semi-finals on Wednesday 10 July.

What do you need to know?

For the second time in five years these two European heavyweights meet in a semi-final, with the Netherlands having triumphed 3-1 after extra time in a Nations League clash in 2019.

It would come as no surprise to anybody if this highly-anticipated encounter went the distance once more; five of the last eight games between these teams have finished level after 90 minutes.

“It will be a great night on Wednesday between two big nations – a historic night,” predicted Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman after his side reached a first EURO semi-final since 2004 by defeating Türkiye.

England, on the other hand, have made it to this stage for a second consecutive edition of the tournament.

“If we continue to show spirit and togetherness, I’m sure we can go to the very end and win it all,” insisted defender Ezri Konsa after the quarter-final penalty shoot-out win over Switzerland. It is a tie balanced on a knife edge.

Possible line-ups

Netherlands: Verbruggen; Dumfries, De Vrij, Van Dijk, Aké; Schouten, Simons, Reijnders; Malen, Depay, Gakpo

England: Pickford; Walker, Stones, Guéhi; Saka, Mainoo, Rice, Shaw; Bellingham, Foden; Kane

Route to the semi-finals

Netherlands

Group D
2-1 vs Poland (Gakpo 29, Weghorst 83; Buksa 16)
0-0 vs France
2-3 vs Austria (Gakpo 47, Depay 75; Malen og 6, Schmid 59, Sabitzer 80)

Round of 16
3-0 vs Romania (Gakpo 20, Malen 83 90+3)

Quarter-finals
2-1 vs Türkiye (De Vrij 70, Mert Müldür og 76; Samet Akaydin 35)

England

Group C
1-0 vs Serbia (Bellingham 13)
1-1 vs Denmark (Kane 18; Hjulmand 34)
0-0 vs Slovenia

Round of 16
2-1 aet vs Slovakia (Bellingham 90+5, Kane 91; Schranz 25)

Quarter-finals
1-1 aet 5-3p vs Switzerland (Saka 80; Embolo 75)

Expert predictions

Derek Brookman, Netherlands reporter

Netherlands demonstrated in their 2-1 quarter-final defeat of Türkiye that they don’t always have to play silky, possession-based football to get a result.

After a frustrating first half, coach Ronald Koeman shook things up by bringing on Wout Weghorst, and their play became more direct.

What you then saw was spirit, determination, an increase in tempo and – as Türkiye desperately searched for an equaliser – extraordinarily resolute defending. It also highlighted the strength in depth of the squad.

Joe Terry, England reporter

England’s progress to the semi-final can be explained by their iron will not to lose, a defensive set-up that is hard to break down and an ability to impact the moments that matter most. Gareth Southgate has seen signs of growth in performance as well, and his side will surely have to raise their game again against the Netherlands, opponents who, at their best, play with a verve and fluidity that England haven’t yet faced in Germany.

Views from the camps

Ronald Koeman, Netherlands coach:

“For the whole nation, it’s something special. We are a small nation and we’re in the semi-finals with England, France and Spain. We are really proud. We had to suffer but it’s a great success to get the opportunity to play in a semi-final.”

Gareth Southgate, England manager:

“Dutch teams don’t tend to sit in and that’s not what we’ve seen from them, but Ronald Koeman is an experienced coach. We are prepared for anything, it will be an exciting game with many good players on the pitch. We need another step up from what we showed in the last game; it’s a step up in quality of opponents and we are ready.”

Shackling Saka

Bukayo Saka has been England’s most dangerous outlet in Germany, with defenders struggling to read his bursts of pace.

The Arsenal man will often slow right down to walking pace with the ball at his feet, tempting the defender to jump in, before darting out of reach to the byline for a cutback or to the edge of the box for a shot on goal.

Knowing it’s about to happen is one thing; stopping it is another altogether.

The England winger’s direct opponent is likely to be Nathan Aké.

The two have frequently gone head-to-head before, in confrontations between Arsenal and Manchester City.

Meanwhile, the Aké/Cody Gakpo tandem has been a feature of the Netherlands’ matches in Germany, and Ronald Koeman is unlikely to want to break up a winning combination – at both ends.

But there is another option: Tottenham’s Micky van de Ven, another who knows Saka from the Premier League.

The 23-year-old’s speed is the stuff of legend and he made some excellent defensive blocks after coming on against Türkiye.

Danger down the Dutch right

Full-back, winger, assist provider, goalscorer – Denzel Dumfries is the archetypal everyman on the Dutch right flank.

The Oranje’s shape in the round of 16 victory over Romania was tailored to his strengths.

Steven Bergwijn, nominally stationed on the right wing, often drifted inside, which cleared the way for Dumfries to bomb forward, which he did repeatedly.

Without a left-footed player on that side, England’s left wing has been stymied in an attacking sense, yet defensively Kieran Trippier has been solid.

His positioning and work rate mean he’s rarely caught out.

Luke Shaw’s potential return may restore balance going forward, albeit his lack of match practice could be tested by Dumfries’ all-action style.

System breakdown

If, as widely anticipated, Gareth Southgate sticks with the formation he used against Switzerland, then we are in for a fascinating tactical battle in Dortmund.

Koeman is an avid disciple of Cruyff’s 4-3-3.

However, England’s three-man rearguard with wing-backs can be kryptonite for that system, as witnessed in the 2021 UEFA Champions League final between Manchester City and Chelsea.

Such a set-up places immense responsibility on the wing-backs – expected to be Saka and either Trippier or Shaw – as they must provide numerical superiority in both attack and defence.

If they’re caught too high up the pitch, then Declan Rice and Kobbie Mainoo could be left exposed in midfield, especially if the Dutch have engineered a numerical advantage in that area by pulling a winger deeper infield.

Whoever gets the numbers right in these vital areas could well find themselves in Berlin for Sunday’s final.

Publish Date : 10 July 2024 10:07 AM

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