Friday, July 19, 2024

Intense Semi-Final Showdowns Set for Euro 2024

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As Euro 2024 enters its final week, anticipation builds for the semi-final matchups featuring France against Spain and England versus the Netherlands.

The first semi-final on Tuesday sees France taking on Spain in Munich. France, the standout team of the tournament, faces Spain, the top European team from the last two World Cups.

Spain secured their semi-final spot with a dramatic 2-1 extra-time victory over hosts Germany, courtesy of Mikel Merino’s late header. Under coach Luis de la Fuente, Spain has been impressive, especially since their UEFA Nations League triumph last year. However, they face a formidable challenge in stopping Kylian Mbappe and the French team.

Spain will be without key defenders Dani Carvajal and Robin Le Normand due to suspensions. Additionally, midfielder Pedri is injured, though Dani Olmo, who excelled against Germany, is expected to start. Defender Marc Cucurella emphasized the team’s collective effort, noting, “Football is a collective sport. If it were one-on-one, it would be tricky, but it’s up to us in the end.”

France holds a competitive edge over Spain, having beaten them in several past encounters, including the 2021 Nations League final and the 1984 Euros final. Despite Kylian Mbappe’s struggles with form due to a broken nose, he remains the only French player to score in five matches. France advanced to the semi-finals after defeating Portugal on penalties in a goalless quarter-final.

Midfielder Youssouf Fofana dismissed criticism of their performance style, stating, “Personally, I really don’t care, because at the end of the day, we are in the semi-finals.”

On Wednesday, England faces the Netherlands in Dortmund. England, under Gareth Southgate, who marked his 100th game in charge, overcame Switzerland on penalties after a 1-1 draw. Despite not winning their last four matches in regulation time, Southgate praised his team’s resilience and character.

The Netherlands, who finished third in their group, have been in strong form, defeating Romania and then coming from behind to beat Turkey 2-1. Defender Stefan de Vrij scored the equalizer, with an own goal from Turkey’s Mert Muldur sealing the win. Coach Ronald Koeman highlighted the significance of their achievement, saying, “For the whole nation, it’s something special. We’re a small nation, and we’re in the semis with England, France, and Spain, and we’re really proud.”

Historically, both teams have one win each against each other in the Euros, with the Netherlands winning their last encounter, 3-1, in the 2019 Nations League semi-finals.

As Euro 2024 approaches its climax, these semi-final clashes promise high-stakes drama and intense competition, with all four teams vying for a place in the final.

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