Two Netherlands stars taunt England ahead of Euro 2024 clash with risky comments | Football | Sport

Netherlands duo Cody Gakpo and Micky van de Ven have risked their comments on England coming back to haunt them at Euro 2024. The Liverpool and Tottenham pair cracked jokes about their semi-final opponents and claimed Gareth Southgate plays ‘defensive’ football in remarks that will stir motivation in the Three Lions camp.

England have reached the semi-final despite largely underwhelming performances in Germany. It was put to Gakpo that the English media are even more critical of their country’s performances than their Dutch counterparts.

The 25-year-old interjected, quipping: “Is this even possible?”

Meanwhile, Van de Ven bluntly observed that England manager Southgate prefers defensively-minded football despite the vast pool of talent at his disposal. The 53-year-old coach has built the success of his eight-year tenure on having a solid structure.

Van de Ven said: “They (England) play very defensive. We can see they have lots of quality but that they play defensive football.”

Those comments may end up looking silly if an attacking England performance trumps the Netherlands in Dortmund on Wednesday.

England and their Dutch counterparts have reached the last-four on the more favourable side of the Euro 2024 draw. The Three Lions have defeated Slovakia and Switzerland in their knockout matches, while the Netherlands have beaten Romania and Turkey.

Southgate faces the third major tournament semi-final of his tenure. The England manager hit back at suggestions that those deep runs at two European Championships and a World Cup have benefitted from easier fixtures.

A German journalist pointed out to Southgate that even the Germany team England knocked out at Euro 2020 was considerably poorer than what might have been expected. Southgate argued that it contained eight Champions League winners.

The England boss continued: “Look, the teams we’ve played are because we won our group.

“If you go back through history, England had different routes to the final because we didn’t win our group. I understand of course, you’d rather not have to jump the Grand National to win the tournament.

“Most teams, when you have back-to-back games – two, three, four games against big nations – the margins are so fine and then those games end up quite even. You win one, you lose one – so it’s very tough to go through those processes.

“I’m not really sure what to say, it’s the madness of this job – but it’s been an enjoyable night and I will try to keep it that way.”

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