EURO 2024 Talking Points: England make back-to-back finals as Netherlands fall short

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EURO 2024 Talking Points: England make back-to-back finals as Netherlands fall short

England are into the EURO final
England are into the EURO finalProfimedia
England's stunning late victory against the Netherlands takes centre stage in our penultimate Talking Points of EURO 2024. In this edition we will analyse how England looked much improved, Southgate's subs paid off, and despite the Netherlands falling just short, there are reasons to be positive for the future.

Southgate's super subs step up for improved England

A tournament with a number of late goals has delivered once again tonight and by doing so has sent England into back-to-back EURO finals. Tonight was a much-improved version of England, one which looked capable of going toe-to-toe with a quality team like the Netherlands, and that is exactly what transpired.

So when Ollie Watkins got onto the end of a Cole Palmer through ball to slot home into the bottom corner and send England into euphoria - it was no slice of luck. They now deserve this chance at creating history - finally putting to bed decades of hurt. 

It was a performance on the front foot and despite going behind early from a costly Declan Rice error, England remained calm. Every player did their job and the Three Lions continued to press in search of a goal. England's moment of fortune came in the way of a soft penalty but Harry Kane was fearless under pressure, putting to bed any personal nightmares from his World Cup penalty miss against France

What followed was the best we have seen from England. Phil Foden came alive at last and came close twice to putting England ahead. England's young star of EURO 2024, Kobbie Mainoo, was superb and they looked likely to score. 

The second half felt more like how a semi-final involving England should feel - tense and cagey. However, Southgate made changes at a make-or-break time and they worked with emphatic effect. Palmer and Watkins combined from the bench to send England to the final and for all the criticism, Southgate deserves credit for his tactical approach tonight.

England will face a Spanish side high on confidence and with wonderkid Lamine Yamal, who has lit up this tournament. Southgate's men have stepped up a gear at every crucial turn at EURO 2024 but they will need to be in top gear from minute one on Sunday to avoid yet more heartbreak.

But this tournament is further proof that this group of players are leaving the ghosts of the past behind as they look to forge their own legacy - one of greatness. 

Netherlands fall short but reasons to be positive

It was a heartbreaking end to the tournament for the Netherlands, and it will sting them for a while, but overall, it shouldn’t be looked at as a negative tournament for them.

The last time the Dutch had reached the semi-finals at the European Championships was all the way back in 2004. And despite a slow start to the tournament, they certainly upped their game during the knockout stages, with players like Cody Gakpo and Tijjani Reijnders performing at a really high level.

Even against England, it wasn’t a bad display at all, and in the second half, they looked to be taking over the match. They could even point to a dubious penalty decision in the first half that certainly changed the complexion of the match.

Additionally, Ronald Koeman may not be the most popular manager amongst fans, but he made some excellent tactical changes during the match to disrupt England. 

It may feel like yet another tournament failure for the Netherlands, but when they’ve got over the disappointment of this defeat, things aren’t looking all that bleak. There are reasons to be positive. Frenkie de Jong will return from injury, and young stars like Xavi Simons will improve.

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