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Two Up, Two Down: What were the positives and negatives from England’s win over the Dutch?

We made it through by the skin of our teeth, and yet it matters not.
We’ve done exactly what we set out to do, and we’ve reached the final of Euro 2024! That’s the job in front of any international manager- to negotiate the tournament rounds by any means necessary.
Gareth Southgate, I’m publicly sorry.
I doubted you, I slated you, and I was wrong. When push came to shove, he made the subs, he changed the tactics, and he’s got us there. What a job!
Changes pay dividends
Ollie Watkins: possibly not a name any of us would have on our scoresheet?
Yet again, though, England have proven that we have plenty of quality and plenty of options we can turn to when the going gets tough. We may have the deepest squad of the lot, and it’s been a blessing to be able to call on the lads all through the tournament.
Special mention to Watkins, of course, because what a finish!
To show that level of composure at ninety minutes in a European semi-final and to take us through to the final in Berlin was simply stupendous. Enjoy the moment, Ollie, because you fully deserve it.
A nervy second half
For all the positive play we showed in the first half, we really did look leggy in the second.
Harry Kane and Jude Bellingham in particular looked knackered, and that’s something we need to address come Sunday if we want to take the trophy back home to Blighty.
Some poor transitional play
Every time Declan Rice strode beyond the halfway line, England looked vulnerable.
That’s not solely his fault, but it highlighted a serious weakness in our setup, whereby as soon as both midfielders vacated their holding roles, we had nothing to shield the back four.
We either need to tether Rice to John Stones via electroshock technology, or we need to spend the next few days drilling defensive responsibilities into his head via Clockwork Orange therapy.
Either way, we need to plug the hole in the middle of the park, or else Spain will run through us like a hot knife through butter. Kelvin Beattie says...
England fans in full voice
It was great to hear the England fans finally make it to ‘ten’ on their anthem, which quashed the vicious rumour that most of them can’t count to ten.
Harry Kane makes a contribution
King Harry made another absolutely crucial contribution when he hit the deck faster than Ronaldo used to do in his prime.
He scored maximum 10’s from every VAR judge and his ‘rolling in agony’ moments will surely net him a gong come the Oscars.
Wrighty and Nev’s scrap!
I missed the fight between these two as I was out in the garden taking photos of my lawn, although it was great to see one of our ex-managers getting really excited about the second goal.
Balanced and unbiased coverage
I look forward to the final on Sunday, and as a lover of balanced and unbiased commentary, I can’t wait.
For all you would-be Spitfire pilots, enjoy the final.
You’ve gotten better in the knockout rounds, are definitely carrying a bit of luck and if Gareth Southgate can keep Phil Foden in his right position with Kane on the bench and Cole Palmer firing, you have a chance against my tip for the trophy before a ball was kicked. Malc Dugdale says...
Decisions go in our favour...for once.
Some would say that Harry Kane’s penalty was fortunate, but these challenges lead to spot kicks a lot of the time and after a thunderb*stard from Holland to start the game, we needed that.
It was nice to finally see a borderline call go our way, because it generally doesn’t. I thought it was a penalty from the start, but I’m sure many didn’t.
A great first half and a final flourish
The first forty five minutes saw some of the best national level football we’ve played in years and it was disappointing to see the Dutch negate that for most of the second period.
Phil Foden hit the bar (as did the Netherlands) and had one cleared off the line, and just when I thought we’d blown it, Cole Palmer and Ollie Watkins found a way at the death.
I’m so used to seeing that result the other way round, and it felt weird that we found a way and made it to two European finals in a row, but credit to the squad and the gaffer, because we found a goal when they could not.
Kane isn’t cutting it
Although he dispatched the penalty kick as well as his teammates did in the previous round, Harry Kane was pretty unimpressive against Holland, for me.
He got a couple of shots away but is playing like a ‘false nine’ who actually is a nine, and it’s really weird to watch.
Watkins has staked a claim for more time in the Berlin final and if he gets that, Kane can’t complain.
He’s miles off his best and I think he’s very likely to confirm whatever injury he’s been carrying when we complete the final against Spain. Let’s not hold back others if he isn’t 100%, because this is a final and they don’t come around often.
England’s tactical confusion
Although we won, the way the Dutch nullified our advantages in the second half was a bit worrying.
I would like to have seen Southgate switch our formation and tactics up to get the upper hand back, but instead he chose to ride it out and hope for some late magic, which came off.
Hopefully the boss can manage our options as well as or better against Spain, as if we aren’t on it, we’ll be three goals behind before he gets the chance to break out his emergency waistcoat.
Come on, lads. Ninety more minutes. Well done and let’s go again on Sunday.

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