Euro 2024: England Poised To Make History Against The Netherlands – Southgate

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Gareth Southgate has said the external noise was “louder than it has ever been” earlier in the tournament but believes England are now ready to seize their chance to make history by reaching their first major final on foreign soil.

Having only participated in two tournament finals in their history—winning the 1966 World Cup and losing the Euro 2020 championship match to Italy on penalties—England takes on the Netherlands in Dortmund on Wednesday. Both matches took place at Wembley in London.

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After a tournament in which England was tipped as one of the pre-tournament favorites but produced a string of lackluster performances, needing extra time to defeat Slovakia and then penalties to defeat Switzerland at the quarterfinal stage, a spot in Sunday’s decider against either France or Spain awaits.

Asked if he feels England are now ready to peak at the climax of Euro 2024, Southgate said: “There’s been a definite shift. I was really interested [because] as a coach sometimes you take a step back and you observe.

“One of the strengths of us over the last seven, eight years has been less fear, less inhibition. But I think at the beginning of the tournament, the expectation weighed quite heavily and of course the external noise was louder than it’s ever been.

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“I felt we couldn’t quite get ourselves in the right place and, in the end, what was impressive was that the players ground it out, they ground results out and found ways to win.

“I felt that shifted once we got into the knockout stage and definitely in the quarter-final. I thought we saw a better version of us with the ball, freer.

“I’m not sure any of the messaging changed but I just felt the group changed. You’re now into that moment in the tournament where it’s ‘what’s possible, what’s achievable’, rather than ‘what might go wrong’.

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“That’s different for players, for an athlete. So, this is now the chance to make history, which we’ve enjoyed doing that, a chance to get to a first final not held in England – the first time England will have ever done that.

“We’re trying to break new ground. That’s difficult and it’s complicated, but the players have responded brilliantly and the resilience that’s been built.”

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