What to look out for in today’s Euro 2024 quarter-finals

Yesterday we took a look at some of the key players, tactics, and story-lines to look out for in Friday’s Euro 2024 quarter finals-ties, and they certainly lived up to expectations. 

So with the first semi-final now set, it’s time to look ahead to their potential final opponents, and more specifically what you should look out for as they compete to extend their Euro 2024 campaign in today’s quarter-final match-ups!

England Vs Switzerland: Swiss Rotations and England’s left-sided conundrum

Switzerland:

Switzerland have been one of the most tactically interesting sides in the Euros so far, and perhaps the biggest surprise performers.

Crucial to this has been their midfield, specifically Murat Yakin’s use of Granot Xhaka, Reno Frueler, and even Michael Aebischer as a wrong-footed left-wing back. 

Xhaka has emenated his role at Xabi Alonso’s Bayer Leverkusen by being at the heart of his sides play, constantly dropping into the back line or receiving the ball from center-backs to quickly fire line-breaking passes into forwards in pockets of space.

Meanwhile just ahead of him, The Bologna have provided security in possession and multi-faceted threats in and around the box. They have have one goal and two assists a piece, with Freuler’s thriving in making well-timed runs into the box, whilst Aeibischer has utilized the left centre-back and winger by making clever rotations and drifting centrally to link-up with teammates or shoot himself – something that will be vital to Switzerland manipulating defenders and overloading the midfield against England. 

England:

In stark contrast to the Swiss’ display this summer, England have surely been the most underwhelming performers when considering the talent at their disposal. The many problems and solutions to them have been discussed in length already, so this won’t go into all of them, however we will focus on an already existing issue that could be especially excarbated on Saturday, namely, left side of defence, and, more pertinently, who will play on it. 

This is due to the lack of understanding that the left-sided partnership will have with one another, With Marc Guèhi suspended, Gareth Southgate will be without one of his only in-form players at left center-back, meanwhile the starting left-back is currently uncertain. Kieran Trippier’s position is in doubt both to, both due to fitness concerns and his concerning displays in his make-shift role there so far, and, although the potential return (or, more accurately, arrival) of Luke Shaw to the squad will be welcomed, his match readiness is in question having not played since February.

However, the likely, and rumored, option for Southgate is a switch to a back-three. This could arise in many variations, but will possibly see the versatile right-footer Ezri Konsa fill come in as a left centre-back to play alongside John Stones and Kyle Walker, who will shift over with Trent Alexander-Arnold taking the spot at right-wing back.

Additionally, if neither Shaw nor trippier were to start, this added defensive security would free up room for Bukayo Saka to fill as a left wing-back, able to bomb forward and provide England with the much-needed attacking width they’ve been looking for in the previous four fixtures.  

Whatever the make-up of England’s left side is though, the players will not be experienced or comfortable in their positions, nor their defensive partners. This lack of relationships could cause a major issue in and out-of-possession, with Switzerland’s intense and well-coordinated man-to-man press able to seamlessly win possession high as England, whilst their aforementioned rotations could also create gaping gaps in defence. 

Türkiye Vs Netherlands: Counter-attacks, Koeman’s midfield trio, and Türkiye‘s dangerous overloads

The last quarter-final match-up between The Netherlands and Türkiye will pose some interesting tactical battles, as both sides’ most progressive and threatening moments come through one key area: counter-attacks.

No nation has scored more from counter-attacks than their two a-piece so far, whilst Turkiye’s six shots from said situations is only bettered by Spain and their quarter-final opponents. For teh Dutch, this threat has predominantly come via the tournaments joint-top scorer Cody Gakpo, and especially Donyell Malen, who bagged two off the bench to seal a win over Romania.

Meanwhile Türkiye have been extremely dangerous when defending a lead; effectively restricting opponents in a deep, compact block, before springing direct, rapid breaks against tired legs. 

Galatasaray forward Barış Alper Yılmaz has been key to this, with his endless energy and blistering pace enabling him to contribute in every minute for Vincenzo Montella at Euro 2024 so far.

As for each team’s respective strengths, this comes in contrasting ways. 

Netherlands: 

Setting up with a double pivot of Tijani Reijnders and Jerdy Schouten sitting behind Xavi Simons in a free roaming No.10 role, Ronald Koeman’s men pose a simple yet threatening midfield trio.

 In taking up the not-insignificant task of replacing the injured Frenkie De Jong, Reijnders has arguably been one of the best players of the tournament, excelling at bypassing the opposition press and transitioning the ball from defence to attack with surging carries with the ball at feet. 

Meanwhile, alongside him, Schouten’s expert passing has proved fruitful. The PSV man has consistently found Simons in between the lines, consequently maximising the latter’s exceptional ability to receive the ball on the half-turn with tight control and pick out clever passes to set up teammates. 

Simons has made a tournament leading three assists at the time of writing, and, shown in their torrid opening 35 minutes without Simons against Austria, Les Oranjes have looked a completely different side with the 21-year-old in their team. 

Though, despite the Dutch midfield’s excellent progressive abilities, it’s lack of an out-and-out ball-winner or physical presence does pose some defensive weakness, as was evident against Austria. 

Türkiye: 

This weakness could be heavily exploited by Türkiye’s rotations and overloads, which will be present regardless of whether Montella decides to set his side up with a back-three or a back-four. 

Against Georgia, the overloads predominantly came on the left flank through Juventus youngster Kenan Yıldız and right-footed left back Ferdi Kadıoğlu. The latter’s propensity to make bursting over or under-lapping effectively utilises his dribbling, and chance creation, as well as Yıldız’s tricky ball manipulation and powerful ball-striking when cutting inside.

Crucially though, these overloads can occur on the right and in central areas, particularly through Arda Güler. Real Madrid’s teenage sensation will either can either interchange with right-back Mert Müldür, and Yılmaz out wide, or overwhelming opposition midfields by dropping deep as a false nine to combined with an onrushing midfielder, one of the two left sided players drifting inside, or with self-proclaimed best play-maker in the world Hakan Çalhanoğlu, who, despite missing the prior fixture through suspension, will undoubtedly be vital to Türkiye’s hopes of replicating their semi-final run at Euro 2008. 

Travis Levison | Get Football

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