Netherlands 2 Turkey 1 – Weghorst's impact, Guler shines and Dutch comeback courage


The Netherlands came from behind to overcome Turkey and book a Euro 2024 semi-final showdown with England.

Samet Akaydin headed Turkey into the lead but two goals in six second-half minutes turned Saturday’s quarter-final on its head, Stefan de Vrij levelling matters before a Mert Muldur own goal sent the Dutch to their first Euros semi-final since 2004.

Tim Spiers, Jordan Campbell and Liam Tharme break down the main talking points from…


Gakpo has become the Netherlands’ star man

It may have been attributed to Turkey’s Muldur as an own goal but it was the presence of Cody Gakpo which counted once again for the Netherlands

When the ball was squared across the penalty area to the back post, there was only one player who was going to be in the hunt for it.

While the debate has centred around Memphis Depay or Wout Weghorst as the team’s main striker, it is Gakpo who has looked the most likely route to goal.

He has three goals and one assist in the competition from his position starting on the left flank and drifting inside.

It has seen him drift in and out of the Liverpool in his debut season, with 16 goals and six assists, but he showed a knack for the big games and he has done so again in Germany.

He could have scored another with a minute of normal time to play but the shot was saved. The Netherlands do not have an outright superstar but Gakpo has cemented himself as their main goal threat.

England will know all about him but in an Oranje strip he looks to possess a different level of confidence.

Jordan Campbell


Arda Guler impresses for Turkey once again

While a Barcelona teenager — Lamine Yamal — has rightly been garnering attention throughout the tournament for his sparkling performances, another from Real Madrid is starting to lay claim to equal billing.

Arda Guler may not have played too often for Madrid last season, mostly owing to injury, but he ended the season in fabulous form (five goals in five games) and has brought that momentum to Germany.

His second assist of the tournament was a beauty. Turkey and Guler, after a slow start, had come into the game via a series of threatening set pieces which the Dutch struggled to cope with, and the opening goal was an extension of that.

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Arda Guler set up Turkey’s opening goal (Emin Sansar/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Picking up a cleared corner on the right of the box, Guler was itching to try and work the ball onto his favoured left foot and whip it into the box.

With no angle to do that, the 19-year-old, who also hit the post with a free kick in the second half, reluctantly took a swish with his right and delivered a picture-perfect outswinging cross that completely befuddled Netherlands keeper Bart Verbruggen, who resembled someone who had half-crossed a road only to recoil and hesitate when seeing a speeding motorbike careering his way.

Verbruggen neither jumped to claim the ball, nor reversed to his goal-line. He was helpless.

Step forward Samet Akaydin at the back post, only playing because of Merih Demirial’s suspension, and he planted an easy header into the net.

Turkey


Samet Akaydin (No 4 shirt) heads home Guler’s cross (Michael Kappeler/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Tim Spiers


If in doubt, break glass for Wout

Even the Dutch, with all of their footballing principles, aren’t opposed to throwing on a big guy and crossing it in.

Everyone has a hard line somewhere, at which they’ll abandon the ‘philosophy’ and take the most direct route to goal. Like in four of the five games at the World Cup (including the round of 16 when he scored twice off the bench), Weghorst has been the super sub for the Dutch. Koeman has used him as a substitute in all five games — he scored the winner, an angled first-time finish, against Poland on matchday one.

Turkey were the perfect tactical test. They mixed between pressing high and defending in a 5-2-3 mid-block. It gave them outlets in transition but more importantly meant they could clog up central spaces where Memphis Depay and Xavi Simons wanted to play — the Dutch forward line of players who wanted to come to feet was never going to disrupt a back five, especially not after Turkey went 1-0 up and could protect their lead.

Weghorst’s introduction allowed the Dutch to move into a 3-2-5. Gakpo became wing-back on the left, able to connect with Depay, who now had more freedom to pull wide and in doing so, meant the Dutch still had a focal point with Weghorst’ presence — occupy defenders was probably Koeman’s instruction.

He should have equalised on 70 minutes, side-footing a volley at the back post from a cross when it suited a laces finish. It turned out not to be a problem as, from the resulting corner, Stefan de Vrij headed in.

That owed to Weghorst acting as the screen (and with a big handful of a defender’s shirt) to give De Vrij a free header. His impact in both boxes was significant, keeping the Netherlands in it minutes before, after Bart Verbruggen spilt a shot. Weghorst, from on the floor, poked the loose ball away to prevent a tap-in.

Weghorst had a role in the winner too. It was simple, receive and lay a pass back to Simons. He passed through to DEnzel Dumfries, who produced the back-post low cross for Gakpo to force a Mert Muldur own goal.

In 45 minutes, he had nine touches and three passes, but an unquantifiable impact on his team-mates. When it doubt, get Wout.

Liam Tharme


How are the Netherlands shaping up for a semi-final against England?

An unconvincing run, a manager who not many are convinced by, a couple of come-from-behind victories and a feeling that being in the good half of the draw is the only reason they are in the semi-finals… for England, read the Netherlands.

But here they are, in the final four of the Euros for the first time since 2004, so how good are their prospects of winning just a second major tournament in their history?

Well, Turkey preyed on their weaknesses here, especially via set pieces and crosses, while Austria also took advantage of a badly organised defence when consigning them to third in the group stage, but the Dutch have got plenty going for them too.

Again, like England, when they’re confident and in full flow, showing composure and intensity, they can look great to watch, as they did when beating Romania 3-0 in the second round.

Here, they had to show resolve, spirit and some tactical acumen from Koeman with his second half changes.

Gakpo is an obvious threat (who Turkey dealt with well until he crept in at the back post to take advantage of some dozy defending and help score the winner via Mert Muldur’s own goal), while if Jerdy Schouten, Tijjani Reijnders and Simons are given time and space in midfield they can play and then some.

Dumfries is always a pacey danger from full-back and then there’s big Weghorst to throw into the mix for some aerial carnage.

England will have plenty to think about. On current form, it looks too close to call.

Tim Spiers


What next for the Netherlands?

Tuesday, July 9: vs England, Dortmund, 8pm UK, 3pm ET

 


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(Top photo: Roy Lazet/Soccrates/Getty Images)



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