What can England expect from Netherlands in Euro 2024 semi-final? Key players, results and coach Koeman - in profile

England face Netherlands in the semi-final of Euro 2024.England face Netherlands in the semi-final of Euro 2024.
England face Netherlands in the semi-final of Euro 2024. | Getty Images
England face their toughest test yet against Netherlands in the semi-final of Euro 2024.

Gareth Southgate’s England are now within touching distance of a place in the Euro 2024 final but must first navigate their way through a challenging semi-final test against the Netherlands.

While they may not have made it easy for themselves, a penalty shoot-out victory against Switzerland was enough for Southgate to reach his third semi-final in four major tournaments as England boss - equalling the record of all 18 predecessors combined that came before him.

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The Three Lions are aiming to win the Euros for the first time in their history and are hoping to end a 58-year wait for silverware after their iconic World Cup triumph on home soil back in 1966.

In order to do so they must first overcome a Netherlands team that has improved considerably in the knockout stages after initially finishing third in the group stage.

Many consider this to be England’s most challenging test of the tournament so far. But what can fans expect from the Netherlands and have they ever won the Euros before?

Here’s all you need to know.

Netherlands’ road to the Euro 2024 semi-finals

Netherlands were drawn in Group D alongside Austria, Poland and World Cup finalists France.

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Ronald Koeman’s side entered the tournament as second favourites to progress from the group after twice losing to France in the qualification stage. In the run-up to the tournament their preparations were rocked by two major injuries to Barcelona star Frankie de Jong and Atalanta’s Europa League winning midfielder Teun Koopmeiners, who had both been pivotal in the qualification campaign.

Despite these setbacks, expectation was high for the Netherlands and they kicked off the tournament by coming from behind to beat a Poland team that were missing Robert Lewandowski. A hard fought 0-0 draw with France followed in their second group game before a disappointing 3-2 defeat to Austria where they struggled to cope with the pressure and intensity of Ralf Rangnick’s side.

The defeat consigned Netherlands to a third place finish, but ironically left them on the easier side of the draw where Koeman’s team have started to show signs that they can be real contenders. A comfortable 3-0 victory courtesy of goals from Cody Gakpo and Donyell Malen set-up a quarter-final tie with Turkey where the Oranje were once again forced to fight their way back from behind to secure a 2-1 win.

Where are Netherlands in the FIFA world rankings?

As it stands, Netherlands sit seventh in FIFA’s World Rankings. This makes the Oranje the fifth ranked team in Europe behind the likes of Belgium, France, England and Portugal. England are ranked fifth in the world after reaching the final of Euro 2020 and the quarter-final of the 2022 World Cup.

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Have Netherlands ever won the Euros?

Dutch football fans are dreaming of lifting the European Championship for just the second time in their history. Their last triumph came during Ronald Koeman’s playing days in Euro 88, which was ironically the last European Championship to be played in Germany.

Despite being a relatively small country, the Netherlands have often punched above their weight and exerted huge influence upon footballing style across the continent. This was showcased by their so-called Total Football as they finished runners-up in both the 1974 and 1978 World Cups, with Johan Cryuff earning his status as a footballing legend. 

Confusingly for the next decade the Oranje failed to qualify for a single international tournament. Many argue that the previous era had been too old, and the new generation too young - but everything seemed to click into place by the summer of 1988.

The team which featured the likes of Koeman, Frank Rijkaard and Ballon d’Or winners Ruud Gullit and Marco van Basten actually lost their opening game to the Soviet Union before powering past England and the Republic of Ireland to earn second spot in the group.

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A semi-final triumph over tournament favourites Germany followed before a well deserved 2-0 victory over the Soviet Union in the final.

Netherlands have lost all of their last three semi-finals in 1992, 2000 and 2004 since then but will hope to win the tournament for the just second time at the Olympiastadion in Berlin.

Who is the Netherlands manager?

Netherlands are managed by former Everton and Southampton boss Ronald Koeman.

During his playing days, Koeman was regarded as one of the best defenders in history, he was capped 78 times for his country and represented the likes of Ajax, PSV and Barcelona.

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Though he was a defender, Koeman is also renowned for his ability to score goals and he incredibly managed 192 goals across 535 league appearances.

Since his retirement in 1997, he has managed the likes of Ajax, Southampton and Everton, and is currently in his second stint as Netherlands boss. In his previous spell he breezed through Euro 2020 qualification but left before the tournament to take the Barcelona job.

Who are Netherlands’ key players?

Netherlands are blessed with some of the most talented defenders in world football with Liverpool legend Virgil Van Dijk typically captaining the team at centre back alongside Stefan de Vrij. They also have the likes of Nathan Ake and Denzel Dumfries in the full back areas with Matheus de Ligt, Jeremie Frimpong and Mick van de Ven all providing cover.

But surprisingly, after conceding five goals, their main strength has actually been their ability to score goals. They typically line-up with a 433 formation with Xavi Simons providing the creativity in midfield and the likes of Memphis Depay and Cody Gakpo both being tasked with scoring the goals.

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Borussia Dortmund star Donyell Malen has mainly been used as a substitute throughout the tournament, but his blistering pace and ability to run in behind has proved a nightmare for defenders later in the game, with the 25-year-old scoring two goals.

Though the Dutch are renowned for their silky passing and transitions in possession, don’t be surprised to see them change to a more direct approach if things aren’t working. 

Throughout the tournament, we have often seen former Manchester United forward Wout Weghorst appear as a substitute to offer some height in attack, with the Dutch often going long to utilise his aerial strength.

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