Netherlands vs England: Three key players to look out for

The Hard Tackle lists three players who can make a positive impact when the Netherlands and England clash in the UEFA Euro 2024 semi-finals on Wednesday.

The curtains will fall on UEFA Euro 2024 this week, with only two matches remaining before we witness a new champion. Spain came from a goal down to beat France 2-1 in the first semi-final to return to the final of the Euros. The other semi-final will pit the Netherlands against England at Signal Iduna Park on Wednesday night.

The Netherlands reached the UEFA Euro 2024 quarter-finals after coming from a goal down to beat Turkiye 2-1 in the round of 16. The previous phase had seen the Oranje ease past Romania. So, Ronald Koeman’s men have stepped up after a sub-par group-stage campaign, having finished third in their group behind Austria and France.

As for England, they are yet to come out of second gear at UEFA Euro 2024. The Three Lions have not looked impressive in any game, winning only one game in regulation time. While they have been defensively solid, Gareth Southgate’s men have been dreadful in the final third, managing only five goals in as many games thus far at the Euros.

With neither team looking too convincing thus far at the latest edition of the European Championship, a closely contested encounter is on the cards. With that in mind, The Hard Tackle lists three “key players” who can tip the scales in their team’s favour at Signal Iduna Park on Wednesday night.

Harry Kane

Our list begins with a player who has not been at the races thus far at UEFA Euro 2024, even though he should have taken the competition by storm. We are talking about Harry Kane, who has not led England by example as he usually tends to.

The 30-year-old has found the back of the net only twice thus far at UEFA Euro 2024, managing just 15 shots in five outings. Those are unusual numbers for a player of Kane’s quality, and he will be eager to make his mark for England against the Netherlands on Wednesday.

Considering Jude Bellingham and Bukayo Saka have gradually improved with every passing, Wednesday’s game is the ideal time for Kane to rise to the occasion. If he does so, England should have the productivity to get past the Netherlands, with the Oranje showing some chinks in the armour.

Xavi Simons

Cody Gakpo has been arguably the best attacker at UEFA Euro 2024 thus far, with Nico Williams and Lamine Yamal closely following him in the pecking order. However, we have zeroed in on Xavi Simons as our second pick instead of the Liverpool forward.

While Gakpo should invariably continue his exceptional run at another game in a major tournament, better support from his offensive partners should leave the Netherlands in good stead against England. That is where Xavi Simons comes into the equation.

The 21-year-old has been top-class in the last two seasons at the club level, with his exploits alerting high-profile clubs like Barcelona, Arsenal, and Liverpool, among others. His next destination will likely be Bayern Munich, although his head remains in the game.

As for Wednesday’s game, Simons must pull the strings in the final third, with Cody Gakpo and Memphis Depay playing around him. If he performs at his best, England’s vulnerable backline might be in trouble due to his line-breaking passes.

Declan Rice

Our list ends with an England player, although Cody Gakpo and Memphis Depay were good shouts for the final slot. From Gareth Southgate’s team, Bukayo Saka, Kobbie Mainoo, and Jude Bellingham were the other options. However, we have picked Declan Rice to round up our list.

The Arsenal midfielder has gradually regained his form after a slow start to his campaign at UEFA Euro 2024. Rice is still not at his best, with his output on the ball not at the desired levels. However, he has been rock-solid in the defensive phases, especially in the knockout stages.

Rice has seen Southgate send his midfield partners through the revolving door before Kobbie Mainoo nailed that spot. So, he deserves some credit for not letting that affect him, especially during the defensive phases.

As for Wednesday’s game, Rice needs to be at his best to keep Xavi Simons at bay. If he rises to the occasion, England will have a solid base to build the gameplay and put the Netherlands to the test this midweek.

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