England vs Netherlands: How the Dutch Armoury Can Sink the English Ship

England vs Netherlands will decide who will get to play the high-flying Spain at the Olympiastadion in Berlin in the Euro 2024 final. The Three Lions have not been firing on all cylinders, but their defenders have produced a resilient display so far.

Gareth Southgate will be relying on his side’s defensive strength to get past a Dutch side that have defied expectations to get here. Ronald Koeman’s side has not been perfect by any means, but Oranje fans have enough reasons to feel confident ahead of the clash.

The attacking methodology of the Dutch frontline could prove problematic for the English backline. How can Netherlands dismantle England’s apparently solid defence?

England vs Netherlands: How the Netherlands Attack Can Cause Problems for England

Cody Gakpo and Memphis Depay have been instrumental in steering Netherlands to the Euro 2024 semi-finals. Much of the Oranje’s attacking threat in the final third has revolved around one or both of them. Silencing them will surely be a key factor in stifling the Dutch team as a whole.

Notably, Depay has notched 17 shots and created 10 chances, while Gakpo has registered 12 shots and 11 chances created. This makes the Netherlands the only team with two players reaching double figures in both metrics.

Over two-thirds (63.5%) of the Netherlands’ 74 shots at Euro 2024 have involved at least one of Depay or Gakpo. This involvement rises to 66.7% for goals specifically. Gakpo, unsurprisingly, has been their main threat. The Liverpool forward is the joint-top scorer in the tournament with three goals, with only two others matching that tally without penalties.

Gakpo’s directness and intent have been crucial to his attacking threat. Only two players in the entire tournament have managed more carries that directly lead to shots or chances created (nine). He’s also the standout performer, being the only player to have more than two goal contributions (two goals, one assist) directly following carries.

Depay’s impressive hold-up play and link-up with teammates have been a key feature of the Netherlands’ attack. He was one of the few Dutch players to emerge from their disappointing 3-2 defeat to Austria with any credit.

It’s also worth noting his work-rate. While the Netherlands haven’t utilised a high press like some teams, Depay has still averaged a very respectable 22.4 high-intensity pressures in the final third per 90 minutes, which ranks him ninth among strikers.

While Gakpo’s pressing isn’t as relentless as Depay’s, he still finds ways to disrupt play effectively. His six possession regains in the final third is the second-highest in the competition, highlighting his knack for winning the ball back in dangerous areas.

England’s defence has been impressive at Euro 2024, but the Netherlands attack can prove to be a tricky challenge for them.

Wout Woghorst offers a variation in the Dutch frontline. If Southgate devises a working plan to nullify the dynamic duo of Depay and Gakpo, Koeman can turn to the towering forward for an alternative avenue of attack.

The free-roaming role of Xavi Simons also makes the Dutch attack more unpredictable.

Leading the way with three assists before the semi-finals, he’s the tournament’s top creator. However, it’s worth noting that one assist came from a pass inside his own half before Donyell Malen’s solo goal against Romania, and another was a simple ball to Gakpo who still crafted a great finish in the same match.

Southgate will need to find a way to contain Simons and disrupt the Netherlands’ supply line. Declan Rice could play a crucial role in limiting Simons’ influence and making it difficult for the Dutch to build attacks.