We are a small nation and we are in the semifinals with England, France, and Spain

Statements from Ronald Koeman (Netherlands coach) after the Netherlands-Turkey game (2-1) in the Euro 2024 quarterfinals.

We are a small nation and we are in the semifinals with England, France, and Spain
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“We started quite well, but the game changed after 20 minutes,” said Koeman.

“Initially, we were able to find spaces and create opportunities, but as the game progressed, Turkey's pressing and midfield control started to stifle our play. We couldn't find space, which led to moments when we lost the ball and they dominated with enthusiasm and quality. Their midfield was particularly effective in closing down our passing lanes and winning second balls, which disrupted our rhythm.”

Koeman pointed out a key moment in the first half when Turkey’s increased pressure led to their opening goal. “Then we conceded a goal, and Turkey dominated even more. Their confidence grew, and they began to control the game, making it difficult for us to regain our composure and momentum. So, it became clear to me that a substitution was necessary. Bringing on Wout [Weghorst] and using more players on the wings who could make crosses was a tactical shift aimed at exploiting Turkey’s defensive weaknesses and providing more direct service into the box.”

The substitution proved effective, as Weghorst’s presence added a new dimension to the Dutch attack, allowing them to claw back into the game and ultimately secure a 2-1 victory. “Wout’s physicality and aerial ability gave us an edge, and our wingers delivered some excellent crosses. It was a tactical gamble that paid off, and it highlighted the depth and versatility of our squad.”

Reflecting on the journey to the semifinals, Koeman expressed immense pride in his team’s achievements. "We are a small nation and we are in the semifinals with England, France, and Spain. We are really proud. Reaching this stage of the competition is a remarkable accomplishment for us, given the size of our country compared to the football powerhouses we are up against.”

Koeman acknowledged the hardships faced along the way, emphasizing the resilience and determination of his players. “We had to suffer tonight, but there are no easy games. Every match in this tournament has tested our limits, and tonight was no different. Turkey pushed us to our boundaries, but our players gave everything they had. It was an exciting game, and we showed great heart. The ability to withstand pressure and still find a way to win speaks volumes about the character of this team.”

Looking ahead to the semifinal clash with England, Koeman anticipated a thrilling encounter. "It will be a great night on Wednesday between two great nations. England is a formidable opponent with a rich history and a squad full of talent. We respect their capabilities, but we are also confident in our own strengths.”

Koeman discussed his preference for a potential final opponent. “If we play in the final, my preference is Spain because we already had France in the group. Facing a different opponent would provide a new challenge and a fresh tactical battle. But first, we have to prepare ourselves in the best way to play a good semifinal. Our immediate focus is on England, and we need to be at our best to compete with them.”

The Dutch coach stressed the importance of meticulous preparation and mental readiness. “Our focus will be on executing our game plan, staying disciplined, and making the most of our opportunities. It's a big occasion, and we are ready to rise to the challenge. The support from our fans has been incredible, and we are determined to make them proud by giving our all in the semifinal.”

As the Netherlands gear up for the showdown with England, Koeman’s words reflect a blend of cautious optimism and unwavering determination, embodying the spirit of a team that has defied the odds to stand among Europe’s elite.