England face Dutch hurdle to reach Euro final showdown with Spain

England aim to reach the final of a major tournament on foreign soil for the first time, moving closer to ending a 58-year wait for a major tournament win.

England face Dutch hurdle to reach Euro final showdown with Spain

The winner from the England vs the Netherlands will face Spain in the Euro final. (Photo: Getty Images)

By:
Vivek Mishra

England manager Gareth Southgate said the team is sensing their chance at history in Wednesday’s Euro 2024 semi-final against the Netherlands in Dortmund.

Southgate’s team aims to reach the final of a major tournament on foreign soil for the first time, moving closer to ending a 58-year wait for a major tournament win.

The winner will face Spain in Berlin on Sunday after they came from behind to beat France 2-1 on Tuesday.

England missed out in the Euro 2020 final, losing on penalties to Italy at Wembley.

Captain Harry Kane said reaching back-to-back finals would be an “amazing achievement” as he aims to win his first major trophy. However, Kane has faced criticism for his performances in Germany, where he now plays for Bayern Munich.

The 30-year-old has scored two of England’s five goals in the tournament but has looked physically restricted after missing the end of the club season with a back injury. Kane’s performances have reflected England’s struggles as a team.

Twice they have faced potential early exits, only to fight back against Slovakia and Switzerland, thanks to moments of magic from Jude Bellingham and Bukayo Saka.

England arrived in Germany as one of the favourites with a talented squad and improved performances under Southgate. He believes the team struggled with expectations early in the tournament.

“One of our strengths over the last eight years has been less fear, less inhibition but at the beginning the expectation weighed heavily,” said Southgate at his pre-match press conference on Tuesday. “Now we are into that moment in the tournament where it is what is possible? What is achievable? Rather than, what could go wrong?

“That is different for a player. This is now the chance to make history, the first time to make a final not held in England.”

The selection of referee Felix Zwayer has raised concerns after Bellingham was fined for referencing a historic charge of match-fixing against the German. Zwayer was banned for six months in 2006 after being investigated for taking a bribe. Bellingham was fined 40,000 euros (£34,300) for his comments after Bayern Munich beat Dortmund in December 2021.

The Netherlands had their own troubles in the group stages, barely advancing as one of the best third-placed teams after a 3-2 defeat to Austria. Ronald Koeman’s team found their form with a 3-0 win over Romania in the last 16 and a 2-1 win over Turkey in the quarter-finals.

Cody Gakpo, one of the tournament’s top attacking players, looks to add to his three goals so far. The Dutch are seeking their first major tournament win since the Euros were last held in Germany 36 years ago.

However, their preparations were disrupted by issues with the German train system. The Netherlands planned to travel from Wolfsburg to Dortmund by train, but a blockage forced them to fly, causing them to miss their pre-match media duties.

(with inputs from AFP)