Euro 2024: England hunting for maiden crown; Netherlands hoping to end 36-year drought

New Delhi: England and Netherlands are two teams that have genuinely struggled during the course of the past two weeks but have set up a blockbuster clash at the Signal Iduna Park in the second semifinal of the 2024 Euros.

The English side finished first in their Group but had won only one game (1-0 vs Slovakia) whilst drawing against Slovenia and Denmark.

They then went on to face Slovakia in the Round of 16 and were almost knocked out of the tournament if it was not for a bicycle kick by Jude Bellingham in the 95th minute of the game that revived the English side as they went on to win 2-1 in extra time.

They then faced a strong Switzerland side and found themselves trailing by a goal heading into the final ten minutes. Bukayo Saka was the hero in the quarterfinal for the Three Lions as the Arsenal forward scored a brilliant curling effort into the bottom left corner of the goal to tie the game which they won 5-3 via penalty shootouts.

Despite the side’s struggles in attack which has seen them appear clueless and dull whilst trying to break the opposition’s defence, England manager Gareth Southgate hails his sides chances in the tournament.

“We continue to give people fantastic memories. Now we want to deliver one more thing – we have never been to a final outside England, never won a Euros, so there are two bits of history we would love to create,” said Southgate to BBC five.

Netherlands on the other hand have won only one major tournament in the country’s history (1988 Euros) and find themselves with an opportunity to recreate history. The Dutch side, like their opposition have not been at their strongest through the campaign. A dismal outing in the Group Stages saw them qualify after finishing third in their group behind Austria and France.

Although a strong outing in the Round of 16 saw them defeat Romania (3-0) with comfort, they struggled heavily against Turkey in the quarterfinal and trailed for a majority of the game before scoring two late goals to secure a 2-1 victory.

Netherlands has scored nine goals in Euro 2024 so far with Cody Gakpo being the tied top scorer at the tournament with three to his name. The team has struggled at defense and have conceded five goals so far.

“I think for the whole nation it’s something special, we’re a small nation and we’re in the semis with England, France and Spain, and we’re really proud. We had a big heart — sometimes we get criticism about that, that we don’t have that compared to other nations, (but) the players showed a big heart (against Turkey) ,” said Ronald Koeman in the post match conference.

–IANS

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