Netherlands vs. England, Thursday 6th June, 19:45
The Premier League produced two all-English finals in Europe. However, while the experience of a Champions League final (where seven of Gareth Southgate’s squad featured) should stand the individuals involved in good stead, the softly spoken coach can be forgiven for wishing it were otherwise given the close proximity of this game.
He’ll have particular reservations over his captain after Harry Kane appeared sluggish and off the pace on his return from injury, while for opposite number Ronald Koeman the night couldn’t have gone much better.
Not only did the two Dutch participants end up on the winning side to hand them a real mental boost ahead of this fixture, but key centre-back Virgil van Dijk sauntered his way to the man of the match award, while Georginio Wijnaldum only played just over an hour and has a good engine anyway.
Those two cornerstones of the team will be joined by Ajax academy graduates Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong, while former Manchester United man Memphis Depay has blossomed at Lyon and especially for the national side in recent times to leave the Oranje with a healthy spine to call upon.
The progress of the Dutch under Ronald Koeman is difficult to understate. They’ve gone from a shambles that couldn’t even qualify for either Euro 2016 or last summers’ World Cup, to one that topped their UEFA Nations League group ahead of the past two World Cup winners – Germany and France.
However, despite possessing one of the world’s best centre-back partnerships on paper, this is a team that is geared to attack and subsequently, both teams have scored in seven of their last 10 outings as each of the last three featured at least four goals.
England certainly have firepower with their ranks, netting five times against both the Czech Republic and Montenegro in the last international break, while also putting three past Spain in Seville the last time they faced truly world class opposition.
Indeed, our very own Marcus Rashford offers one of four really enticing options alongside Raheem Sterling, Jadon Sancho and captain Kane up top, with Sterling appearing ever more comfortable in a Three Lions shirt.
However, the base of midfield continues to be an issue, with Eric Dier a sub-par option and Declan Rice inexperienced at this level, while the array of goalkeepers available leaves a lot to be desired.
Southgate won’t be able to put out his absolute best team given the schedule, while the Dutch possess better balance to their side, but his team can go down swinging with courage nonetheless.
*all odds are subject to change