Thursday, July 25, 2024

Netherlands v England: The key battles that could decide Euro 2024 semi-final

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As well as playing every minute in Germany, Rice has done his best to cover every blade of grass in the country.

The England midfielder has covered the greatest distance – 63.9km – of any player at Euro 2024, and grown in influence on the tournament as it has progressed.

Following the nadir of an under-par performance against Denmark, where every pass seemed to be going astray, Rice has been the reliable midfield metronome in the knockouts.

He has attempted the sixth-highest number of passes (393) of all Euro 2024 players, and the third-highest total from a midfielder – after Toni Kroos and Granit Xhaka – and has done so with an impressive 93.2% passing accuracy.

Rice also plays an essential role as the midfield destroyer, and is fourth in the individual player rankings for balls recovered (35) and tackles made (14).

The battle for the midfield at Signal Iduna Park will be fought between Rice and Tijjani Reijnders, a name perhaps unfamiliar to English audiences but who has been one of the tournament’s most eye-catching players.

The 25-year-old AC Milan midfielder has stepped into the void left by the injured Frenkie de Jong, playing nearly every minute and carrying Netherlands forward from midfield with the ball at his feet.

Comfortable in possession and with a knack for a line-breaking pass – 38 of them at Euro 2024 before the quarter-finals – Reijnders must be reined in for England to have a chance.

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