England given zero chance v Spain if Dutch ‘bottle’ it in semi-final

Editor F365
Jude Bellingham and Lamine Yamal
Jude Bellingham and Lamine Yamal

England have not got a scooby v Spain if they somehow beat the Netherlands, especially with Lamine Yamal on their team.

Send your views to theeditor@football365.com


This is how you play football
Watching the Spain v France game, and it’s absolutely baffling how anyone can justify the Gareth Southgate approach to football. Teams win big games by being brave. It’ll actually be a disgrace if he engineers another stinker.


Spain have won all 6 of their games. They have beaten Croatia, Italy, Germany and France.

England have won 1 game and drawn 4 (in 90 odd mins). They have struggled against Denmark, Slovakia, Slovenia and Switzerland.

England are about to play their first Top 15 team.

Whatever happens tonight, the winner is up against it.


The kit is sexy as f***
Look, can we just admit that the most important factor about winning an international tournament is the kit?

Spain’s kit is liquid sex. They deserve to win it all.

We can fuss about it but we can’t argue it.
Phil, Manchester


Thanks Tickers
Excellent work from Tickers, talking about France being France and all of their inevitability meaning that they will knock out Spain, and in doing so, thus proving that the F365’s writer’s curse is the strongest force in the sporting world.

Tickers – any chance of writing up something about the Netherlands being too powerful for England to handle and how we should all be preparing for a Spain vs Netherlands final please?
Alex, Madrid (Curtis Jones will be nodding wryly)


Who is the best ever teenage footballer?
Note that this is only an analysis of how good they were as teenagers specifically – so you can argue Wilshere was as good a teenager as Ronaldo (though their overall careers were quite the contrast, to say the least). Cue apoplectic rival fans lambasting my Arsenal bias.

For more modern viewers (such as myself) the obvious answer to gravitate towards is Messi (well…more on this later) while a teenage Pele’s exploits are obviously the stuff of legend. In between the eras of these two – who else gets a shout? I wouldn’t know – I’ll leave it up to the middle-aged folk who frequent the mailbox and complain about things like not mixing politics with football to fill that knowledge gap.

Anyway – I genuinely think Yamal might be the best footballing teenager I’ve personally ever seen (off the top of my head, it’s a competition between Messi, Ronaldo, Rooney…maybe Gotze gets a shout). He’s younger than Messi was when he was in his first pro season and arguably (or definitely) carrying a much larger burden for their respective Barcelona’s and at country level.

He first came on my radar last August – I was working on a marketing research project for a Nike-owned brand which was looking to get a list of potential brand ambassadors who were still very young, not yet super-famous, could attract the Gen-Z crowd and were about to be the next big thing in their respective sports. My research into soccer prospects brought me to highlights of Yamal – and I can say this now without sounding crazy that he reminded me of a more athletic Zidane/Bergkamp.

The way he touches the ball but also the power in his drives towards goal – I knew literally after 45 seconds of the first YouTube reel that this kid was destined for greatness. He went straight to the top of the list – I even wrote in the notes something to the effect “If he’s not chosen to be the ambassador by this time next year – it will already be too late.”

And to score a goal like that – I have a feeling he saw Rabiot defending him and wanted to make his point loud and clear. The confidence in the kid…whatever the case, we’re watching someone who (health in body and mind permitting) we’ll be talking about on these pages for years to come.
MAW, LA Gooner


England will only go through if the Dutch bottle it
I’m Swiss, so while my views on the England-Switzerland match are biased, my views on England, Southgate and Euro 2024 are fairly neutral. I have found the fan and media reactions to be utterly bewildering throughout the tournament, but especially in light of the Switzerland match, both in terms of performances and in terms of results.

Performances: pre-Switzerland, England/Southgate were criticized throughout the tournament. They were mediocre going forward in all four matches, they did not create the quantity and quality of chances that one would expect from a tournament favorite. On the other hand, they were also defensively solid and difficult to break down.

Post-Switzerland, nothing about the performance was any different. I acknowledge my bias but all statistics show that England and Switzerland were either evenly matched, or that Switzerland was the marginally better team on the day. If someone primarily cares about performances, nothing about the Switzerland match should have changed anything.

You can be optimistic based on England’s defensive solidity and ability to stumble through knockout games with 1 goal wins or shootout victories, or you can be pessimistic based on England’s inability to create chances and two fixtures against far better players than in the 5 matches so far.

Results: pre-Switzerland, England/Switzerland got the results they needed. They won their opening match. They drew against their rivals for first place in the second match. They drew their third match to clinch first place. Due to the absurdity of 24 team tournaments and having 4 of 6 third-placed teams qualify, there was never any real risk that England would fail to qualify from the group. There was never any guarantee that finishing first would be advantageous from a knockout fixtures perspective. Germany, Spain and Portugal all finished first but ended up on the harder side of the group. Switzerland conceding a late equalizer to Germany instead of winning directly led the Swiss to the easier draw.

So pragmatically speaking, the group stage was a non-issue, the Slovakia game was an actual win, the Switzerland game was a shootout victory. For those who care primarily about results rather than performances, again, what has changed?

We all know that you cannot treat fanbases as a single entity, any given group of fans will have contrastingly different views. There is always a risk of taking the viewpoints of different people and mistakenly concluding that individuals are being contradictory or inconsistent. But conscious of this, I am pretty sure I have seen the same exact pundits and Mailbox contributors being critical of England/Southgate pre-Switzerland, now acting confident and optimistic post-Switzerland. To anyone in this camp I humbly ask: what on Earth has changed?

Other England thoughts:
* Objectively, the world would have been a better place if Shaqiri’s attempted Olimpico had gone in.

* I think Gareth Southgate has been a fantastic England manager from 2016 through 2023. I also think Gareth Southgate has been borderline incompetent as an England manager in 2024, particularly during the tournament but also beforehand with his squad selections and media comments.

* I see the semi-final as Holland’s to lose. We know what England will play like. If Holland turns up and plays to their ability, they will win. If Holland bottles it, England will stumble through yet again.

* It is really impossible to imagine the final being won by anyone besides Spain.

* Non-English people don’t mock the English fans nearly enough for their ‘Sweet Caroline’ nonsense. An American song by an American songwriter, popularized by American sports fans since the mid 1990s, being adopted in 2021 by a fanbase noted for its jingoistic attitudes, while supporting a country with barely-concealed anti-American sentiment.
Oliver Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland

👉 No Kane or Foden in England teams picked to play the Netherlands
👉 Eusebio, penalties, Germans, Southgate: ranking England’s six previous major tournament semi-finals
👉 Ranked: All of Gareth Southgate’s England subs at Euro 2024, from pointless to actually good


Stats v Stars
One of Billy Bean’s core points in Moneyball was that stats work over a season (in baseball’s case, a long season) while stats have minimal to no impact on the shorter playoff games. In fact, having better players than the other teams could afford was the difference between his Oakland team consistently making the playoffs with one of the lowest squad spends and always failing during the playoffs.

What has this got to do with football and the Euros. Well, it seems that sums up this England team. They have reached the semis on the back of individual performances rather than as a team. Of course, if this were totally true, it would/should sum up most tournaments.

The alternative argument is that too many ‘fancied’ teams have relied on their stars, who have failed to come through. The less fancied teams have done well off the back of sheer getting stuck in, balanced formations, bags of effort and not a small amount of skill to disrupt the more fancied teams. And the use of excellent young players – Guler, in the case of Turkiye. But in a short time frame, that effort is hard to sustain. Perhaps those playing the ‘long game’ understand it’s a risk in the early stages to try and play a more disciplined, slower game to pay off in the latter stages – if you make it through.

For quite a few years, we have been seeing the demise of the out-and-out centre forward. Is this Euros the icing on that cake? England are blessed with three pretty decent alternatives. One isn’t firing, and the other two aren’t getting game time. But how many of the other teams have either got a centre forward or at least one that scores goals with some regularity to make it worth taking a spot in the side?

In the prior England incarnations we had Sterling and Rashford on each wing who did go outside their opponents and did pull the ball back for Kane. This England doesn’t do that, so Kane ends up further back, on average than Foden and Bellingham. At least Toney or Watkins would make more space and give the Dutch defence more headaches. The Dutch rely on Dumfries pushing up, so having a player who can both counter him and push past him, will keep him pinned back for part of the time, and hopefully, this is the case where Walker’s pace will cut off or reduce the risk of the Dumfries diagonal to Gakpo.

I have consigned myself to the fact England, other than playing Shaw on the left, will pick pretty much the same side. Perhaps keeping the three at the back with Guehi brought back in. For whatever reason, the left footed Saka does player better on the right. At no time did he ever try to go outside his man when on the left.

Let’s hope Billy Bean was right and we get yet another one of our ‘stars’ using their inherent skill to get us over the line again.
Paul McDevitt


Southgate is to England as Wenger was to Arsenal
Strap in folks, it’s a Harry Hooler whirlitzer coming (Pacho, be warned, it’s a lot of words)

In a back and forth over the last few days on Southgate, it’s dawned on me that by overachieving in 2018 and by jumping the shark in 2024, Southgate may now be destined to never be given the credit he deserves and may up leaving the England job under a cloud despite genuinely achieving the sort of sustained competitive football that England fans of a certain generation (or three) would absolutely have bitten our own arms off for.

First, the truth, much like Wenger (as per the title), Southgate and England have now very much got to a stage where the relationship has gone sour. The truth is that leaving after a respectful quarter final loss to eventual finalists was likely the safest way to an amicable departure and short of winning 2024 (which, I still hope England do) he will now leave having overseen a decent tournament run with terrible optic football.

Whether it was the weirdness around Henderson, the “Southgate safety” jokes, or the pining for Kalvin. It’s quite clear that Gareth himself has lost the love for the job, even before our own opinions muddy the waters.

But why the brutal revisionism after one tournament?

Why pretend like Southgate hasn’t absolutely decimated the England job, high scores, top-tier achievements and such in context? No-one’s suggesting Southgate has always played explosive exciting football but then, how many successful International teams have? Pragmatic as he was, he still absolutely nailed tournament football and gave us more great games of tournament football to watch than the previous 40 years combined. Here’s some arguments debunked:

Southgate has the best ever England squad – Nope. even generously can’t call Southgate’s squads the best ever. In the main, defenders win tournaments and there have been about 5 better back lines for England in the last 40 years that Southgate hasn’t had the pleasure of managing. He may have had squads that have had the most individual world-class players, but even then that is speculative at best. His squad is nothing on 2002-2006, that’s for sure.

Southgate has had easy routes to the final – Yes. He has. You know why? Because he won the damn groups. It meant he didn’t face Argentina in the last 16 because of losing a group to Romania. It meant he didn’t face Brazil in the quarter final because we came 2nd to Sweden and it sure as heck meant he didn’t face a rampant Germany and get embarrassed 4-1 because we couldn’t win a group containing USA, Slovenia and Algeria. The only group he didn’t win was 2018, and we were comfortably 2nd seed in that group. We have been dining good in qualification friends, in feasts that we’ve never tasted before.

Southgate doesn’t win games of football – Southgate has 5 knockout wins in 90 minutes, see above, that’s because he has an unprecedented qualification rate from the group stages and in those knockout wins, we have 2-1 win from behind, a 4-0, a couple of 2-0 and a 3-0. Yes, those 5 were against nations of equal or worse standing than England but a) Iceland 2016 and b) he won the damn groups he was supposed to.

So no, don’t pretend him taking us past Colombia on penalties after a soul-sapping injury time equaliser that we were all sure would do us, isn’t one of the all time nights for us. Don’t pretend you didn’t get giddy in the 2021 run as we swept past Germany and Sweden, took on the romantic-favourites Denmark and then scored early in the final.

Don’t diminish the fact we were FINALLY a team that won group games against minnows 5-0 or 6-1 after years of 0-0 draws against such opposition. Is it time for him to go? Not even a question of it, as BadWolf said, “get him gone” even if we win the tournament, but is he leaving us with a bundle of good memories the size of a Harry Hooler post from 6 years that are probably more than the previous 40 years combined? You’re so god damn right he is, that I’m talking in the third-person.

Don’t give him a statue, but do hope whoever comes in the next 5 appointments wins. the damn. group.
Harold “this might be the biggest yet” Hooler Esq


Time to get behind England
Oh Badwolf bore off. Clearly nothing has changed between today and yesterday. There is no need to send in the same tired nonsense everyday. If Southgate loses and quits he is going to remain the most successful England manager for 50 years. Who knows when he’ll get knocked off that perch. If the FA decide to replace him with Frank Lampard it could be 50 years and three games! Seriously mate, Frank Lampard. We’d be better off with Lee Carsley. He’s also done some work experience managing in the midlands but at least he’s managing the England u21s and not writing children books about a boy called Frank who plays football. Where does Lampard get these ideas??

If we assume that anyone in football is worth the money that flies around then everyone is. If Alonso wants a pay rise he can come and work in England where all the money is. £4m for his first job as manager seems like a touch for me. As for Southgate, he needs to be paid this level of money. When even the debutants are earning £5m-£10m a year basic, he needs to be paid a good whack so that they can look him in eyes and know that he’s backed.

It’s not perfect, neither is Southgate, but it’s working. It’s time to get behind the team or this hill you are prepared to die on will be washed away by your salty tears.
Alex, South London

👉 No Kane or Foden in England teams picked to play the Netherlands
👉 Eusebio, penalties, Germans, Southgate: ranking England’s six previous major tournament semi-finals
👉 Ranked: All of Gareth Southgate’s England subs at Euro 2024, from pointless to actually good


You’re reffing joking
Just reading about the referee for our game against the Dutch. While it’s inevitable that the rags have made a mountain out of his past with Bellingham, there is something odd about it and his appointment to referee at this level is quite surprising.

Yeah, he’s re-proven himself – clearly he can do the job – but in most industries, a relevant criminal record will be a black mark against you forever. You couldn’t, for example, get a record for stealing money and then be allowed to work in finance. Indeed, allegations of theft (later overturned) against that Post Office lady stopped her being able to even volunteer at her local school. It’s an odd difference in standards. Six months is enough to be reformed in some quarters and yet unproven allegations can destroy you for posterity in others.

But then this is UEFA. I’m probably equally surprised he didn’t get an instant promotion as they very much like that kind of thing.

READ: Every England player ever booked by Jude Bellingham’s nemesis Felix Zwayer