Netherlands scouting report: What England can expect from their Euro 2024 semi-final opponents

The Netherlands will place their first major semi-final in 10 years against England (Photo: Getty)

England are just two games away from Euro 2024 glory. Their first task: overcoming a resurgent Netherlands side in the semi-finals.

The Three Lions take on Oranje on Wednesday night in Dortmund with a place in the final in Berlin up for grabs.

This will be by far Gareth Southgate’s toughest test of the tournament – even more so given his side’s underwhelming performances – with the Dutch emerging as a formidable team despite a rough start to their campaign.

With world-class talent in defence and attack, here’s everything you need to know about the Netherlands – and how England can stop them:

How they got to the semis

The Netherlands were dealt a tough draw in Group D, but got off to a decent start, coming from behind to beat Poland 2-1, with super sub Wout Weghorst scoring a late winner.

They were held to a goalless draw by France, with Xavi Simons having a late winner controversially ruled out by VAR, before losing 3-2 to the impressive Austria.

That meant they only qualified as one of the best third-place teams, but they appear to have reserved their best form for the knockouts, defeating Romania 3-0 in an end-to-end last 16 tie.

The Netherlands beat Turkey to reach the semi-finals (Photo: Getty)

Their quarter-final clash was equally thrilling, coming from behind again to beat the entertaining Turkey 2-1 and set up the England semi-final.

Manager: Ronald Koeman

A Euro 1988 winner and one of the greatest central defenders of all-time, Ronald Koeman’s managerial career hasn’t been as successful as his playing one but still boasts an incredible list of clubs on his CV.

This includes Ajax, Benfica, PSV, Valencia, Feyenoord and Barcelona, though he is best known to English fans for his time in charge of Southampton and Everton.

Interestingly, his first game as Netherlands boss was a 1-0 friendly defeat to England in 2018, but the 61-year-old got his revenge, overseeing the last meeting between the two countries in the 2019 Nations League semi-final which ended 3-1 to the Dutch after extra-time.

This is Ronald Koeman’s second spell as Netherlands boss (Photo: Getty)

Star player: Cody Gakpo

Prior to the tournament, captain and towering centre-back Virgil van Dijk was easily considered the Dutch’s best asset, but at Euro 2024 it’s been a different Liverpool star: Cody Gakpo.

The speedy forward hasn’t always looked comfortable at Anfield, but has come alive on the international stage, with three goals putting him on course for the Golden Boot.

‘Gakpo’s had a good tournament so far, lively, played with a lot of confidence,’ Dutchman and former Manchester United assistant manager Rene Meulensteen told Free Bets.

‘He’s a little bit of what we had with Arjen Robben so many years ago, coming in on the left foot and putting it in the top corner. Cody is the exact same coming off the right.’

Cody Gakpo is leading the race for the Euro 2024 Golden Boot (Photo: Getty)

How they’ll line-up

Koeman has tinkered around with his side throughout the Euros but appears to have settled on an XI at last, with the highlight being an imperious defence featuring Van Dijk, Stefan de Vrij, Nathan Ake and Denzel Dumfries.

Gakpo will start on the left-wing, but there are other attacking threats to be wary of as Meulensteen reveals: ‘Xavi Simons can do things, he’s a good player but hasn’t been at his best and then you’ve got impact players. 

‘I don’t know what Koeman’s going to do on the right-hand side, whether [Donyell] Malen, [Jeremie] Frimpong or [Steven] Bergwijn. I hope he’s going to play Malen because I think he has something, he’s got a change of pace, can come inside, outside.

‘Bergwijn was a bit questionable, people thought why did you play him but that was more to release Dumfries on the right hand side. If he can run forward, he can cause problems Dumfries.

Virgil van Dijk is captain of Liverpool and the Netherlands (Photo: Getty)

‘From set pieces, Van Dijk with his head is strong. Those are the players I’d say can cause real problems for England.

‘I think they’ll try to dominate possession, try to get hold of the ball and move it around. When you get possession but lack the purpose of trying to open the opposition up, you just keep shifting the ball for sake of it and give it away.

‘You can look at the possession stats, but if nothing came of it, you got nowhere. So I really hope that the Netherlands use that possession constructively, to make sure we move it well, quickly and through the lines, asking questions of England. 

‘Every team that has gone more on the front foot and moved to press England, they were giving the ball up easily and quickly, allowing the opposition all the opportunity to create chances. That’s what I want Holland to do.’

The Netherlands have an imperious defence and a talented forward line (Photo: Metro.co.uk)

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Weaknesses

Man-to-man, England are probably stronger than the Dutch but have thus far lacked their cohesion and effective tactical set-up.

There were signs of improvement from the Three Lions in their quarter-final though and with the Netherlands unlikely to sit deep they may have more freedom to finally utilise their impressive attacking talent.

And even though Oranje are strong offensively, they have lacked a clinical touch at times at the Euros, and if Southgate can mastermind a plan to stop Gakpo it could give them the edge.

‘The only problem is the Turkish team dealt with [Gakpo] really well by doubling up on him, so every time he came inside there was another player to stop that space, so he never had a chance to shoot,’ Meulensteen noted.

‘You need to counterattack that by having overlapping runs, so he has an option to play somebody in with a reverse pass. Cody against Kyle Walker will be difficult.’

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