England warned over new Arjen Robben as ex-Man Utd coach explains how Netherlands can win semi

Will Ford
Cody Gakpo of the Netherlands, center, celebrates with his teammates after scoring
England await for the Netherlands

Former Manchester United coach Rene Meulensteen has explained how the Netherlands can beat England on Wednesday night and hailed the man he sees as “a little bit” like Arjen Robben.

The Netherlands take on England in the second Euro 2024 semi-final on Wednesday night, with the winners set to take on Spain in the final on Sunday.

‘Make them give up the ball easily’

The Dutch beat Turkey 2-1 in their quarter-final while England sneaked past Switzerland on penalties, and Muelensteen reckons his nation’s best chance against the Three Lions is to get on the front foot.

“I think they’ll try to dominate possession, try to get hold of the ball and move it around,” he told the Daily Mail. “When you get possession but lack the purpose of trying to open the opposition up, you just keep shifting the ball for sake of it and give it away.

“You can look at the possession stats, but if nothing came of it, you got nowhere. So, I really hope that Netherlands use that possession constructively, to make sure we move it well, quickly and through the lines, asking questions of England.

“Every team that has gone more on the front foot and moved to press England, they ended up making them give the ball up easily and quickly, allowing the opposition all the opportunity to create chances. That’s what I want Netherlands to do.”

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‘A little bit’ Arjen Robben

Cody Gakpo has been the star man for the Netherlands thus far, causing problems cutting in from the left onto his right foot, and Meulensteen has been impressed by the Liverpool forward’s displays, likening him to former great.

“He’s been good, played with a lot of confidence. Lively,” Meulensteen, now assistant at Australia’s men’s team, says in his assessment of his nation’s star man. “He’s a little bit of what we had with Arjen Robben so many years ago, coming in on the left foot and putting it in the top corner. Cody is the exact same coming off the right.

“The only problem is the Turkish team dealt with that really well by doubling up on him, so every time he came inside there was another player to stop that space, so he never had a chance to shoot.

“You need to counterattack that by having overlapping runs, so he has an option to play somebody in with a reverse pass. Cody against Kyle Walker will be difficult.”