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European Championship semi-final: Cracker in Dortmund: Into the final in “Premier League style”?

European Championship semi-final: Cracker in Dortmund: Into the final in “Premier League style”?
European Championship semi-final: Cracker in Dortmund: Into the final in “Premier League style”?

Only two wins separate the Netherlands and England from their first major title in a long time. England are favourites on the pitch, but the Dutch will probably dominate in the city.

The atmosphere will be a European Championship highlight, but will the football be as well? In the explosive semi-final between the Netherlands and England, both nations will do everything in their power to keep their dream of winning their first major title in ages alive.

More than 100,000 fans from both countries are expected in Dortmund on Wednesday, transforming the football temple there into a deafening atmosphere in orange and white. However, their national teams have not necessarily earned the fact that they can hope for a European Championship final through great sporting skill.

The favored English team in particular rumbled through the tournament rather than dominating their opponents. The performances of the star ensemble with the highest market value of all the European Championship teams were sluggish and often uninspired. But the potential is huge – also and especially in attack. Whether it’s Bayern super striker Harry Kane, midfield leader Jude Bellingham or the two turbo dribblers Bukayo Saka and Phil Foden: they all actually stand for fast-paced football with guaranteed goals. And not just them.

Many players know each other very well

“I think we will see a Premier League style game,” said Dutch international and former Bundesliga professional Micky van de Ven, who now plays for Tottenham Hotspur. “The rhythm and level of the game will be high. Many players know each other from the Premier League.”

In fact, the duel for the European Championship final is something of a big class reunion. 31 players in both squads play in the Premier League. Others, such as the Dutch centre-forward Memphis Depay, have already played in what is probably the best football league in the world. The football of the two nations is also closely linked in other ways.

In Arne Slot, a Dutch coach will be training Liverpool FC next season as Jürgen Klopp’s successor. England defender Luke Shaw received a “cheeky message” from his Dutch coach at Manchester United, Erik ten Hag, before the semi-final. And national coach Ronald Koeman also has a special relationship with the upcoming opponent.

Koeman and his England story

When the Netherlands beat the Three Lions 3-1 in Düsseldorf on the way to the 1988 European Championship title, the now 61-year-old was there as a player. Five years later, he even scored a goal in the World Cup qualifiers, after only being shown a yellow card instead of a red card for a foul. The Netherlands won 2-0, while England missed out on the world tournament. Koeman has worked as a coach for Southampton FC and Everton FC. He is considered a pragmatist – just like his counterpart Gareth Southgate.

Both teams had to endure harsh criticism from home in this tournament. For many fans and observers, simply progressing is not enough. Some English supporters even threw beer mugs at Southgate and insulted him with obscene gestures.

“I can’t deny that it hurts when things get as personal as they have recently. I don’t think it’s normal to have beer thrown at you,” said the 53-year-old. “But we are in the third semi-final in four tournaments. We’re going to keep going and enjoy this journey.”

Shaw supports coach Southgate with clear words

In 2021, England lost to Italy in the European Championship final on penalties. This time, they are finally aiming for their second major title after their 1966 World Cup triumph in their own country. A kind of defiant solidarity could also help with this. The team is united against criticism from outside.

“We players love him. He’s exactly what we need. He allows us to be at our best on the field,” said left-back Shaw about Southgate. And Kane explained: “We’re in the semi-finals, so I think we’re doing pretty well. We really have this belief that we can do something special.”

They have that and the ability to come back after falling behind in common with their opponents. The partly weak performances in the preliminary round and in the first half of the quarter-final against Turkey did not dampen the Dutch team’s euphoria. “We can be proud that we have reached the semi-finals,” said Koeman. “Nobody expected that. But the mission is not over yet.”

“The Yellow Wall now belongs to us”

In an attempt to reach a major final for the first time since the 2010 World Cup, significantly more fans will be there on Wednesday (9 p.m./ARD/MagentaTV) than can fit in the stadium. Around 62,000 spectators are allowed to attend European Championship games in the Dortmund Arena. Up to 80,000 party-loving Dutch people are expected in the city and will probably perform their famous European Championship dance again, jumping from left to right. “The Yellow Wall now belongs to us,” was the headline in the Dutch newspaper “AD” with a view to the legendary south stand.

Source: Stern

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