The semi-finals line-up for Euro 2024 is full.

With France and Spain having assured themselves of locations in the final 4 yesterday, England and the Netherlands adopted them with victories at present.

Each quarter-finals had been tight and dramatic, in several methods. England as soon as once more seemed laboured and devoid of creativeness for a lot of their assembly with Switzerland, solely to squeeze by due to Bukayo Saka’s sensible particular person objective — which cancelled out Breel Embolo’s opener — and then some heroics in the penalty shootout.

The Dutch, in the meantime, got here from behind towards Turkey to achieve their first European Championship semi-final in 20 years, establishing a gathering with England in Dortmund on Wednesday.

Our writers dissect the main speaking factors.


England’s penalty secret? It’s all about the bottle

There didn’t appear to be a lot in it at first.

Cole Palmer had simply scored England’s first penalty of their shootout with Switzerland and Manuel Akanji was sauntering ahead to make his response. Jordan Pickford, the England goalkeeper, started to trot over too, earlier than abruptly doubling again.

Pickford had forgotten one thing — his water bottle, which was relatively oddly wrapped in a towel. Having picked it up, he moved again to his objective and positioned the bottle, nonetheless sporting its towel, subsequent to the facet netting.

Having made Akanji wait a bit longer by shifting ahead to examine the penalty spot, Pickford settled again on his objective line. Akanji had a brief run-up and struck the ball together with his proper foot, however Pickford was one step forward. He plunged to his left, parried the penalty away and England had a bonus they had been by no means to relinquish.

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Luck? Not a lot. This was truly a triumph of subterfuge for England and their crew of analysts who had studied the penalties of all Switzerland’s gamers, famous the place they tended to put them and printed out their findings for Pickford to stay on his water bottle.

The evaluation was captured by a photographer at the floor however Pickford was taking no possibilities in the moments earlier than Akanji’s penalty — therefore his choice to wrap the bottle in that towel.

And England’s backroom employees had clearly accomplished their homework effectively. That they had deciphered that Akanji was more likely to shoot to his proper, so the greatest approach for Pickford to play the percentages was to dive left — which he duly did.

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Pickford’s water bottle with the instruction for Akanji’s penalty (we now have circled it right here)

Having obtained it proper first time, it was stunning Pickford didn’t observe his bottle’s recommendation on all the penalties.

Fabian Schar took their second one however relatively than pretending to dive proper earlier than truly diving to his left — as his bottle instructed — Pickford did the reverse, faking left and leaping proper. Schar’s penalty unfolded as the bottle had predicted, to his proper, the place the internet was vacant.

Pickford did observe his bottle for the ultimate two Swiss penalties: Xherdan Shaqiri struck his to the proper, but it surely was too effectively positioned and his shot simply evaded Pickford’s fingertips.

The one penalty the place the bottle was proved unsuitable was for Zeki Amdouni on the fourth kick. Pickford held his floor and dived low to his left, as he had been briefed, however Amdouni outwitted him by going to his proper.

Fortunately for England, that one save was sufficient. And if their semi-final towards the Netherlands on Wednesday additionally goes the distance, don’t be shocked to see Pickford’s bottle and towel make one other look.

Andrew Fifield


Saka stars — however the place is Kane?

When Saka begins effectively, England begin effectively. He was their greatest participant in the first half towards Serbia of their opening match of Euro 2024, when he repeatedly had the beating of marker Andrija Zivkovic, and at present he was once more.

It was no coincidence that the first half at present was England’s greatest since they began the event practically three weeks in the past. Pushed excessive and large in possession, in a formation that nearly seemed like a 3-4-3, Saka was up towards left wing-back Michel Aebischer. And he simply had the beating of him.

So many occasions in the first half, Saka took benefit of the undeniable fact that England had been getting the ball to him far quicker than they’d been towards Slovakia in the earlier spherical. Saka obtained into good positions, put crosses in and compelled corners. The one frustration was that England had been by no means in a position to flip any of these crosses into critical pictures on objective.

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Bukayo Saka was a star for England (Clive Mason/Getty Photographs)

Striker Harry Kane, who was susceptible to dropping deep all through the match, ending up taking part in in defence at factors in the second half, was unable to get on the finish of any of Saka’s deliveries. Kane was substituted in additional time after an unintended touchline collision with England’s supervisor, Gareth Southgate.

With out the ball, Saka needed to run again and cowl Ruben Vargas, however he did that diligently. And when England wanted him most, Saka delivered with the essential equaliser, simply when his crew seemed utterly out of concepts.

Jack Pitt-Brooke


Can the Netherlands go all the approach?

An unconvincing run, a supervisor who not many are satisfied by, a few come-from-behind wins and a sense that being in the good half of the draw is the solely purpose they’re in the semi-finals… for England, learn the Netherlands.

However right here they’re, in the ultimate 4 of the Euros for the first time since 2004. So, how good are their prospects of profitable only a second main event of their historical past?

Effectively, Turkey preyed on their weaknesses in at present’s quarter-final, particularly by way of set items and crosses, whereas Austria additionally took benefit of a badly organised defence when consigning them to 3rd in the group stage. However the Dutch have gotten lots going for them too.

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The Netherlands rejoice beating Turkey (Stu Forster/Getty Photographs)

Once more like England, once they’re assured and in full circulation, displaying composure and depth, they can be nice to look at, as was the case when beating Romania 3-0 in the spherical of 16.

Tonight, they needed to present resolve, spirit… and some tactical acumen from supervisor Ronald Koeman together with his second-half modifications.

Three-goal Cody Gakpo is an apparent risk (who Turkey handled effectively till he crept in at the again submit to make the most of some dozy defending and assist rating the winner, by way of Mert Muldur’s personal objective), whereas if Jerdy Schouten, Tijjani Reijnders and Xavi Simons are given time and area in midfield they can play — and then some.

Denzel Dumfries is at all times a pacy hazard from full-back and then there’s large Wout Weghorst to throw into the combine off the bench for some aerial carnage.

England could have lots to consider.

On present kind, Wednesday’s semi-final in Dortmund seems to be too near name.

Tim Spiers


Guler departs… as a star

Whereas a Barcelona teenager — Spain’s Lamine Yamal — has rightly been garnering consideration all through the event for his glowing performances, one from their arch-rivals Actual Madrid has emerged as somebody equally thrilling.

Arda Guler of Turkey could not have performed too typically for Madrid final season, largely owing to damage, however he ended his debut yr at the Bernabeu in fabulous kind (5 targets in 5 video games) and introduced that momentum to Euro 2024.

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Arda Guler has been a star at Euro 2024 (Odd Andersen/AFP by way of Getty Photographs)

His second help of the event towards the Netherlands at present was a magnificence. Turkey and Guler, after a sluggish begin, had come into the sport by way of a sequence of threatening set items which the Dutch struggled to deal with, and the opening objective was an extension of that.

Choosing up a cleared nook on the proper of the field, Guler was itching to attempt to work the ball onto his favoured left foot and whip it into the field.

With no angle to do this, the 19-year-old, who additionally hit the submit with a free kick in the second half, reluctantly took a sleek together with his proper… and delivered a picture-perfect outswinging cross that utterly befuddled goalkeeper Bart Verbruggen, who resembled somebody who had half-crossed a street solely to recoil and hesitate when seeing a dashing bike careering their approach.

Verbruggen neither jumped to assert the ball nor reversed to his objective line. He was helpless. Step ahead Samet Akaydin at the again submit, solely taking part in due to Merih Demiral’s suspension, and he planted a straightforward header into the internet.

Guler’s event could also be over now, however you sense that that is simply the begin of a glittering profession, for membership and nation.

Tim Spiers

What’s subsequent?

  • Spain vs France (Tuesday, 8pm BST; 3pm ET)
  • Netherlands vs England (Wednesday. 8pm BST; 3pm ET)

(Prime photograph: Carl Recine/Getty Photographs)