England hold slight edge against the Netherlands in Euro 2024 semis

England versus the Netherlands is not as mouth-watering a prospect as France-Spain. Not on paper. Yet, semi-finals of the European Football Championships are not played on paper. On the field, calculations and equations can sometimes go for a toss and there is every reason to expect a gruelling duel in Dortmund in the second last-four clash of Euro 2024.

The competition has livened up considerably after a rather dull group stage. The Netherlands have improved after the first few exchanges and they will be a charged-up lot against an England side which has been a bit underwhelming. They have reached this far and that is creditable, but the brand of football showcased by the Three Lions has not convinced a lot of people.

Now, look at the fact that England have won two knockout games after having conceded the lead. One equaliser came seconds from the final whistle and another in the 80th minute. These are moments that boost confidence. When, after looking hopeless, a team comes back to win, it galvanises the whole set-up. England will have that belief going into this match.

Stats show that England have scored five goals in five matches in Germany so far. That’s not what title aspirants do. They have also looked vulnerable at the back when pressed. At the same time, they have shown cutting edge in the form of Jude Bellingham and Bukayo Saka. Plus, they have won a tie-breaker. Expect them to come out better than they did in the previous engagements.

A heavyweight irrespective of their record in big tournaments after the 2014 World Cup, the Netherlands were equally slow off the blocks in Euro 2024. Their performance in the group stage was quite flat to be true. Neither did they defend confidently, nor did they show any spark while going on the attack. There was no cohesiveness by and large.

However, the Dutch did raise their game after reaching the knockout phase. They lack an out-an-out centre forward all right, but nine goals in five games without having one is not bad. They have got goals from a number of players, which suggests that they have just about enough resources to get the job done. And that matters more than who is doing it.

The Netherlands withstood some heavy shelling from Turkiye in the quarter-final. They looked like falling apart, but defended with guts to pull through. Adversities are huge lessons and if they learnt from those, this team will be up to it. But because England also overcame such situations, perhaps worse, Gareth Southgate’s side possibly start this one with a thin edge.
Prediction: England 2, The Netherlands 1