Teamwork makes the dream work

Euro 2024 rivals England and Netherlands share one factor: historic ache


DORTMUND, Germany — Regardless of the way it generally feels, England does not even have a monopoly on ache and disappointment sustained in main soccer tournaments.

Certain, the Three Lions have not gained something because the staff’s sole triumph on the 1966 World Cup, however there are different nations which have suffered as a lot, or much more, within the pursuit of soothing age-old wounds.

Heading into Wednesday’s Euro 2024 semifinal (3 p.m. ET on FOX and the FOX sports activities app), you do not have to look too far to search out one.

The Netherlands, coached by Ronald Koeman and boasting stars like Cody Gakpo, Memphis Depay and Virgin van Dijk, can also be attempting to place proper previous despondencies.

“Hopefully we are going to make our dream come true right here,” Van Dijk instructed reporters after Saturday’s quarterfinal victory over Turkey. All too typically, that dream has changed into a nightmare.

The Netherlands has misplaced in three World Cup finals, the primary two of which got here in 1974 and 1978, when a golden era spearheaded by Johan Cruyff’s brilliance misplaced to the host nation (West Germany and Argentina) in consecutive finals.

When the 2010 staff additionally completed as runner-up, dropping to Andrés Iniesta’s 116th-minute winner for Spain, it put the Dutch in an undesirable class of their very own. No different nation has misplaced three World Cup finals with out successful one.

Issues have not gotten a lot rosier since. In 2014, there was a defeat to Argentina on penalties within the semifinals and, in 2022, the identical consequence to the identical opponent, within the quarters.

UEFA Euro 2024 Semi-Finals Playing Information | Bear Bets

Like England, the Netherlands has one main event title to its identify, the 1988 Euros. That was a exceptional 12 months for Koeman as a participant, as he helped PSV Eindhoven win the European Cup earlier than taking part in a pivotal position for the nationwide staff’s triumph simply weeks later.

Within the Euros tournaments that adopted, there have been extra shut calls. At occasions, completely different iterations of the Dutch staff has regarded unstoppable within the early a part of tournaments, solely to crumble later. 

Led by Patrick Kluivert’s goal-scoring kind, they have been arguably one of the best staff at Euro 2000, which the Netherlands co-hosted with Belgium. The staff outplayed 10-man Italy within the semifinal, however missed two penalties in regulation and three extra in a shootout to crash out.

The 2008 squad was additionally excellent, romping via the Group of Loss of life by thrashing Italy and France and scoring 9 occasions, however got here undone within the quarters, upset by Russia.

That is closest they’ve gotten at this event since then. However even with a surge to the final 4, very like Gareth Southgate with England, few again dwelling have been impressed. 

Third place in Group D finally led to a better part of the draw, however that did not cease Koeman from being requested after the defeat to Austria whether or not he would think about resigning his place.

Issues improved in a snug win over Romania within the spherical of 16 and a powerful fightback from a aim down towards Turkey, after which the coach bristled at his critics.

“There aren’t any small nations in soccer anymore,” Koeman mentioned, in response to solutions his group have been lucky to keep away from the stacked reverse half of the bracket.

 “We should not suppose we have not had a giant opponent but as a result of I discover that disrespectful. Additionally to Turkey.”

[Related: Lionel Messi called him a ‘fool’ — but Wout Weghorst’s smart play boosts the Netherlands]

Southgate routinely factors out the hypocrisy in how England is burdened with the loftiest of expectations regardless of its relative lack of success in main occasions.

His techniques do not at all times scintillate, however the actuality is that by making Wednesday’s semi, he has now taken the squad to this stage in three of its final 4 tournaments.

The England coach has mentioned he looks like he has a lonely and distinctive job, what with the extent of stress, depth of the general public glare, and the ever-present feeling that there’s a have to atone for previous disappointments.

For as soon as, on Wednesday, he would possibly really feel he’s in acquainted firm.

Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports activities. Observe him on Twitter @MRogersFOX and subscribe to the every day e-newsletter.

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