10 Jul, 2024 @ 12:30
2 mins read

England vs Holland EURO 2024 semi-final preview: Will Bellingham repeat his heroics or will the Oranje party their way into Sunday’s centrepiece showdown with Spain?

IN a tournament that has seen only finalists Spain play scintillating football, England and Holland will hope that crunch time will release the shackles in their Euro 2024 semi-final tonight.

After a 16-year-old Lamine Yamal taught the world his name with a sumptuous equaliser against France in the other semi-final last night, the question will be whether any of the men in white or orange can also step up.

England – optimistically some English bookies’ pre-tournament favourites – have so far produced a series of painfully plodding displays from their galaxy of star names.

They limped through the group stages with just one victory after being roughed up by the likes of Denmark, Serbia and Slovenia.

READ MORE: BREAKING: Spain through to Euro 2024 final after 2-1 win over France

Real Madrid sensation Jude Bellingham during the UEFA Euro 2024, quarter-final match against Switzerland at the Dusseldorf Arena, Germany. CORDON PRESS

The Slavic theme followed with a second-round tie against Slovakia, who were 30 seconds away from a famous victory that would have sent English football spiralling into a months-long state of depressive introspection.

Yet their star names finally came to the rescue, with Bellingham’s famous overhead kick followed up by a Harry Kane header early in extra-time to send England through to a quarter final against Switzerland.

Perennial middle-weights, the Swiss had looked seriously impressive against Germany in the group stages, where they were denied a famous victory by a last-gasp equaliser.

But they proved that was no fluke by expertly sending Italy packing in the second round with a solid 2-0 victory.

In the quarter-final, England were forced to up their game to match the Swiss and the tie was fairly even, with an 80th minute Bukayo Saka equaliser earning the Three Lions extra time and penalties.

And it was the unprecedented expertise and nerveless confidence with which England’s penalty specialists scored all their kicks that will give the Three Lions confidence that perhaps they might be leaving it late to grow into the tournament.

READ MORE: ‘I’m supporting Spain all the way!’ Two of Hollywood’s biggest stars make surprise appearance during Spanish Euro 2024 coverage to pledge their support for the national team

Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk is Holland’s biggest star name in the current squad. CORDON PRESS

And they will need it, because in Holland they will face a fellow heavy-weight for the first time in the tournament.

The Dutch no longer field the star names of ten years ago, and man-for-man England will fancy their chances.

Like England, they struggled in the group stages, but seem to have clicked into gear in the knockout rounds, with a 3-0 win over Romania followed by a more nervy 2-1 victory over Turkey.

Perhaps the real star of Holland’s tournament so far have been the sea of orange-clad hard-partiers that have taken over every city where their national team has been playing.

Videos have gone viral of the Dutch fans bouncing left and then right with arms linked to their unofficial anthem Links Rechts (or ‘Left Right’) by europop group Snollebollekes.

Despite being overshadowed by the England players’ greater star power, the Euro 1988 champions – who beat England 3-1 in that tournament – will be quietly confident that they can prevail.

In the 15 games between the two sides since then, Holland have won six and England just two – but one of those victories was the famous 4-1 spanking at Euro 1996.  

For the Dutch, it will be a sixth semi-final at the Euros, the last four of which they have lost.

England, on the other hand, will be looking to reach back-to-back finals at the Euros – a tournament they have never won.

Statisticians Opta assess that the game has a 30% chance of going to extra-time – something they rate as ‘very high’.

They have England to slightly shade out the Netherlands with a 37.8% chance of winning to 31.6%. 

The match kicks off tonight at 9pm in Dortmund.

Walter Finch

Walter - or Walt to most people - is a former and sometimes still photographer and filmmaker who likes to dig under the surface.
A NCTJ-trained journalist, he came to the Costa del Sol - Gibraltar hotspot from the Daily Mail in 2022 to report on organised crime, corruption, financial fraud and a little bit of whatever is going on.
Got a story? walter@theolivepress.es

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