Euro 2024

England beat Netherlands in Dortmund: Why it is now time to back the Three Lions in Berlin

Gareth Southgate, England
Gareth looks forward to a chilled water and some Coldplay turned slightly up

Ste Tudor tries to separate euphoria and sense after a dramatic night in Dortmund.

Spain v England SuperBoost

England have made it to back-to-back European Championship finals and Betfair are offering up a SuperBoost to mark the occasion.

English football fans all know about Chelsea's Marc Cucurella, who has committed six fouls at Euro 2024 so far, and managing at least one offence in each of his five appearances at the tournament.

England (84) are the most fouled team in Germany, and boast Jude Bellingham (14) and Harry Kane (11) as two of the top four most fouled players in the competition.

He will also be most likely directly up against Arsenal's Bukayo Saka, who has won 10 fouls at the tournament so far, at 1.7 per 90, and, for whom he has previous with.

In both Arsenal v Chelsea meetings in the Premier League last season, Cucurella committed two fouls directly on Bukayo Saka in each game, and was involved in 10 fouls across the two matches (fouls won + fouls conceded).

Listen to Football...Only Bettor after England reach Euro 2024 final

In highly dramatic fashion England have reached a consecutive Euro final, becoming only the sixth team to do so, and right now any thoughts of Spain, and the considerable dangers they pose, can wait, because celebrations are in order.

Perhaps too, some revisions are needed because it's fair to say that Gareth Southgate has been subjected to widespread criticism in recent weeks, a nation finding itself increasingly exasperated by his aversion to risk of any kind.

His team selections and in-game management have been castigated, but so too has his character. It's got a little personal.

By hook and by crook though he has done it again, on this occasion navigating England to their first ever major tournament final on foreign soil. Some kudos is warranted at the very least.

A different perspective

There was no hooking or crooking at the Signal Iduna Park this evening, however, with the Three Lions looking from the off a very different proposition to the listless incarnation that went before it.

In the first half in particular, the shape was right, as too was the press. Passing was progressive and, aiding this significantly, movement off the ball was sharp and full of intent.

Indeed, so dominant were England that Ronald Koeman used an injury to Memphis Depay on the half-hour mark to throw another body into the middle and when this took full effect it resulted in the second period becoming much more a game of attrition.

The free-flowing, entertaining fare stopped and sideways passing became the norm but let's not cast any blame here. Instead, the Netherlands should be praised for doing what they had to do.

Only then came the subs, and once again late changes proved pivotal to England's progress as Ollie Watkins fired a career-defining, beer-spilling last-gasp winner.


Amidst the euphoria that followed a thought flickered, one that would have seemed silly just four days ago. Perhaps Spain aren't to be overly feared after all. Perhaps it's coming home.

Stockport's finest

That's not the euphoria talking, incidentally. There was more than sufficient evidence in that first half display to suggest that when England remember who they can be - and when they play on the front foot to fully capitalize on those traits - this is a team who can trouble anyone.

It should not be forgetten just how good Holland have been to this juncture in the knock-outs, improving with every game. Yet England accrued more than double their opponent's xG, bossed possession, and largely nullified the biggest threats in orange, with John Stones outstanding at the back.

They were worthy winners.

And so much of this derived from the energy and ambition of Philip Walter Foden, a player who was a shadow of his City self at the start of the tournament but who is growing into an instrumental number ten.

Bright and impactful until he faded after the break, the 24-year-old had two shots on target, hit the woodwork, and completed every single one of his 40 passes.

Moreover, an intuitive understanding with Kobbie Mainoo bodes extremely well ahead of Berlin, the Stockport Iniesta linking up brilliantly with the Stockport Seedorf.

Art of frustration

England undertaking 589 passes to the Netherlands' 418 is no surprise, with Koeman's side set up to counter when possible. What does raise an eyebrow is learning that across the tournament, the Three Lions boast a better pass accuracy to Spain, the undisputed maestros of ball retention.

For the record, it's a 90.3% accuracy to 90%, with England completing 391 more passes in Germany.

Naturally, many of them have been safe, some so conservative they would have been voted out last Thursday, but that's a redundant point when we then turn to disciplinary issues that potentially undermine La Roja's glorious football.

Granted, Luis de la Fuente's side have scored the most goals at the Euros, and been superb for the most part into the bargain, but they've also committed the most fouls, 83 to be exact.

To this point, such foul play has not directly translated to cards being brandished, with Spain seeing yellow just 15 times, or 2.5 per 90.

It can be a very different story however in finals.

Across the last two Euro finals 16 bookings were shown, and it's all-too-easy to picture England indulging in long periods of predictable possession-play and Spain - unused to being starved of the ball - allowing frustration to get the better of them.

Head to our Euro 2024 HUB for more previews and tips!

Recommended bets

New Customers can get £50 in free bets!

Available to new customers only. Place a £10 bet on the Betfair Sportsbook and you will receive £50 in free bets to use on Bet Builders and Accas! Opt-in here and T&cs apply.

Prices quoted in copy are correct at time of publication but liable to change.