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European Football Championship: Bottle, referee, tactics: Three things in the second semi-final

The Netherlands and England – that actually promises a football spectacle. The current teams offered less of this at the European Championships. What is important in the big duel in Dortmund?

In fact, this football classic could have taken place in the round of 16. But because Georgia managed a small football sensation against Portugal, the Netherlands, as third place in a complex system, were assigned to another group winner – and now have the chance to advance to the big final against England on Wednesday (9 p.m.).

The Netherlands have been waiting for a major title since 1988, England since 1966. The fans are therefore yearning for a triumph at this European Championship. Around 100,000 fans are expected in Dortmund on match day. The Oranje party with fans jumping left and right is likely to overshadow even the party-loving English. But who will prevail in the evening?

1) Tactics or spectacle?

Gareth Southgate is expecting great things. “I think it will be an exciting game because there are excellent attacking players in both teams,” said the national coach. His team has had these players, such as captain Harry Kane and world-class professional Phil Foden, at its disposal in the five previous matches. But there was never any spectacle. “We still have to take a step forward compared to the last game,” said Southgate, who likes to let his team wait and see, uses a lot of tactics and also places great value on good security.

After a weak preliminary round, the Netherlands, led by striker Cody Gakpo, were able to impress at times in the knockout phase. The 3-0 win against Romania a week ago could have been much higher. In the 2-1 win against Turkey, coach Ronald Koeman’s team at least showed morale and turned a deficit around. “The players showed that they have big hearts,” praised the national coach. With three goals so far, Gakpo is a contender for the title of European Championship top scorer.

2) Referee Zwayer

Jude Bellingham was clear about it at the time. “You give the biggest game in Germany to a referee who has already been involved in match-fixing. What do you expect?” said Bellingham after a BVB defeat against FC Bayern, in which Felix Zwayer made mistakes. On Wednesday, England star Bellingham will meet again with the German referee who was assigned the game by UEFA.

Bellingham was referring to the referee scandal involving Robert Hoyzer that took place almost 20 years ago. The midfielder was fined 40,000 euros by the DFB sports court for his statements. In 2005, Zwayer was one of the key witnesses in the Hoyzer case, which involved manipulating matches. He was retroactively banned by the DFB for several months because he had not reported his suspicions about Hoyzer earlier.

The English delegation remained calm. “I’m not worried about who the referee will be. He will referee at a very high level,” said Southgate. Defender Luke Shaw stressed that the scheduling must be respected. This will have no influence on the Three Lions’ attitude.

3) Need a message in a bottle again?

Does Jordan Pickford need his now famous note on his black drinking bottle again? The English goalkeeper was well prepared for the penalty shootout against Switzerland and had written down on a note what the opponents’ shooters preferred. Pickford saved four of 14 penalties in three games by deciding from the spot – a very good ratio.

The fact that England won two of these three duels is no coincidence for sports psychologist Geir Jordet. “A penalty shootout is a big team event. Preparation should have started years in advance. England have been working on this for eight years, and we saw against Switzerland that they are slowly moving towards a perfect penalty shootout,” Jordet told the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung”.

The Netherlands, on the other hand, have lost twice in penalty shootouts: in the 2014 World Cup semi-final against Argentina, and in the 2022 World Cup quarter-final against Argentina.

Source: Stern

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