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4 key battles England should win in opposition to Netherlands

England are only a sport away from reaching back-to-back finals on the European Championships. Solely Ronald Koeman’s Netherlands stand of their means.

The Three Lions have hardly dazzled in Germany this summer season, however their means to provide when it issues most has seen them progress into the final 4. There’s been no tactical mastery, whereas standout particular person performances have been far and few between, however gamers have stepped up in key moments to see England house.

Fixtures in opposition to the Dutch are rarities, and Wednesday’s duel would be the first at a significant event between the 2 serial underachievers since 1996. England might be aiming to evoke the spirit of ’96 in Dortmund and sail into Sunday’s remaining, whereas Koeman’s Oranje, who’ve improved within the knockouts, and hoping to succeed in their first Euros remaining since 1988.

It is sure to be a contest outlined by mere moments, however there might be key duels littered all around the pitch. Listed below are 4 England must win in the event that they’re to triumph at Sign Iduna Park.

Bukayo Saka, Nathan Ake

Nathan Ake has beforehand loved his duels with Bukayo Saka / Danehouse Pictures Ltd/GettyImages

The litany of Premier League stars in Koeman’s squad and sure beginning XI means we should always see a number of acquainted battles in Munich on Wednesday.

There will not be a extra essential one-v-one duel that Bukayo Saka‘s probably match-up in opposition to Nathan Ake. Every representing the Premier League’s prime two sides over the previous two years, the pair have confronted off in crunch time.

Nevertheless, probably the most memorable battle between the pair truly arrived in an FA Cup tie initially of 2023. As a result of accidents, Saka and Ake have every missed latest league duels between Metropolis and Arsenal, so this is not a match-up we have seen all that a lot.

Ake dominated the duel within the aforementioned cup tie, with the Dutchman matching Saka bodily and refusing to let him go in one-on-one conditions. Ake is a superb defender, and Saka, who was glorious within the quarter-final victory over Switzerland, must be at his absolute best to overwhelm the Metropolis defender down England’s proper.

Saka additionally will not profit from the connections established at Arsenal which may see him break in behind an opposing full-back following a swift mixture. If he is to beat Ake on Wednesday, he’ll must do the heavy lifting himself.

Xavi Simons

Xavi Simons operates between the strains / Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/GettyImages

Expectations had been excessive for Simons pre-tournament, and there have been indicators of the younger playmaker coming to life after a quiet group stage.

Simons operates as one of many superior corners of Koeman’s field midfield – sometimes marauding between the strains. He is a canny operator and slick mover, however he may be hesitant in entrance of objective.

The teenager has recorded three assists at Euro 2024 and recorded extra shot-creating actions than any Dutch participant in Germany (20). He is their chief creator and Cody Gakpo depends on him for service, however he hasn’t confronted up in opposition to an opponent as supreme with out possession as Declan Rice this summer season. Konrad Laimer and N’Golo Kante (in his twilight) run him shut.

Whereas Rice has been criticised for his lack of ambition with the ball, his work off of it has been excellent. He is a outstanding restoration runner and is ever-improving positionally. With Kobbie Mainoo tasked with progressing the ball upfield and boasting defensive flaws, Southgate will as soon as once more lean on Rice to carry down the fort in central areas and shut down the wily Simons between the strains.

Rice has ten extra mixed tackles and interceptions (21) than another England participant at Euro 2024.

Cody Gakpo

Cody Gakpo has loved a superb event off the left / Justin Setterfield/GettyImages

This has not been a terrific event for Kyle Walker, who’s been one among Southgate’s trusted lieutenants for nearly everything of his tenure. Many supporters could be joyful to see the again of the veteran, however Southgate just isn’t going to ditch Walker for Wednesday’s semi-final.

Regardless of if England undertake a again three or 4, Walker might be seeing loads of Liverpool’s Cody Gakpo in Munich.

Gakpo has shone for the Dutch once more at a significant event and is the present joint chief of the Golden Boot race. He is checked out ease holding the width down the left, however confirmed to be a definite risk after jinking inside and firing at objective.

Walker is weak one-on-one and may get caught out on the again put up – as Switzerland exploited on Saturday. Gakpo has developed a superb relationship with Denzel Dumfries on the alternative flank, and the Dutch’s second objective of their quarter-final win over Turkey is a scenario Walker have to be cautious of.

Again put up combos have been a characteristic of the Oranje’s sport this summer season, they usually’ve to this point had super success isolating Gakpo in opposition to his marker.


The Dutch have proven vulnerabilities from set-pieces / GABRIEL BOUYS/GettyImages

England have struggled for dependable sources of probability creation in Germany, and are but to attain a set-piece objective on the event. They miss Harry Maguire, little question.

Nevertheless, there’s scope for the Three Lions to have pleasure from dead-ball conditions in opposition to the Dutch on Wednesday. Koeman’s aspect are conceding at a fee of 6.1 anticipated targets per 100 set items at Euro 2024 – the sixth-worst fee out of all of the groups on the event.

Poland scored from an in-swinging nook on Matchday 1, whereas Turkey scored on the again put up from the second part of a set piece within the quarters.

Can England lastly buck their concepts up from the useless ball? They’ve mustered simply three pictures totalling 1.08 xG all event.



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