Dutch are on brink of something special at Euro 2024, players say

Netherlands' Virgil van Dijk in action with Turkey's Semih Kilicsoy in their Euro 2024 quarterfinal at Berlin Olympiastadion on July 6, 2024
Netherlands' Virgil van Dijk in action with Turkey's Semih Kilicsoy in their Euro 2024 quarterfinal at Berlin Olympiastadion on July 6, 2024
Image: Lisi Niesner / Reuters

The Netherlands feel they have an unexpected opportunity to achieve something special at the European Championship after a gritty comeback to beat Turkey on Saturday and advance to the semifinal.

Their 2-1 victory in a tension-filled quarterfinal in Berlin has set up a last-four meeting with England in Dortmund on Wednesday and a chance to move closer to reprising their only major tournament success, at the last Euros that Germany hosted in 1988.

“We are going to play two more games, if all goes well,” coach Ronald Koeman — who played in the 1988 winning side — said after his men put together a determined showing to overcome a halftime deficit against Turkey.

“Nobody expected this. But our mission is not over yet. If you play a semifinal, you also want to reach the final.”

Koeman looked to get ahead of himself, however, when asked which country he would like to face in Sunday’s final. “I prefer to play against Spain because we have already played against France in the group stage,” the coach said.

Then he checked himself: “We have to beat England first.”

Koeman will know better than most what it takes to win the tournament, having been part of the side that won it 36 years ago by beating the Soviet Union in the final in Munich.

But this time his side have not had a convincing road to the semi, with the Dutch only advancing to the knockout stage of the tournament as one of the four lucky losers — the teams finishing third in their group.

A 3-2 loss to Austria in their final Group D fixture looked to galvanise the group and they rebounded with an impressive 3-0 win over Romania in the round of 16 before Saturday’s success over Turkey.

“As the Netherlands, we must be proud of our team. We have sometimes been criticised that other countries play more with their heart, but we have really shown a lion's heart,” he insisted.

“We had to go very deep,” added captain Virgil van Dijk.

“When you see how everyone reacted, to make a save, block or tackle ... we all did it together. We all want to make our dream come true and we are one step closer. I am proud of these guys.”

“There is great belief in being able to do something special at this European Championship,” said defender Micky van de Ven.

“We have shown resilience and are mentally strong. It will be important that we give everything in the next two games. Then we will hopefully go home with that cup.”

“I think we have shown what we have to offer. I certainly believe that we can do something special at this European Championship,” added midfielder Tijjani Reijnders.

Substitute striker Wout Weghorst agreed. “We are close. This is a unique opportunity. We are going for it.” — Reuters




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