Euro 2017 - England vs Netherlands Preview: Lionesses bid to make final against tournament hosts

Only the Netherlands stand in the way of a spot at the Women's European Championship final for England's Lionesses.

Euro 2017 - England vs Netherlands Preview: Lionesses bid to make final against tournament hosts
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Eight years on from England's semi-final win against the Netherlands at Euro 2009, they meet again in the last four of the Women's European Championships in Enschede on Thursday. 

Jodie Taylor struck again as England became history makers to reach the Euro 2017 semi-finals with a 1-0 victory over France, ending a 43-year run against their opponents in the process.

From day one, Mark Sampson has not shied away from the fact that he believes England can go all the way and win the European Championships,

Now all that stands in the way of his squad and the final - also at the 30,000-seater De Grolsch Veste - are the tournament's hosts, the Netherlands.

Story so far

Both teams have 100 per-cent records so far in this tournament. The hosts banked victories against Norway, Denmark and Belgium to top Group A before impressively dispatching of Sweden in a 2-0 win on Saturday.

The hosts and England alike have continued their fine form coming into this tournament. The Netherlands are on a run of six consecutive wins and the Lionesses are also undefeated in seven.

England started on a high at this year's European Championships and laid down a marker with a competition-record 6-0 victory over neighbours Scotland.

Taylor was clinical from day one as she bagged a hat-trick against the Auld Enemy. This performance secured her place in history, as the first England player since Gary Lineker in 1986 to score a treble at a major tournament. 

She is also only the third women's player to score a hat-trick at the Euros - over two decades since Angelique Roujas's three goals for France in the 1997 group stage.

England's second group game was a different sort of test entirely. After thrashing the Scots in their first game, the Lionesses faced a strong Spain side who played good football for large spells of the game.

However, the Lionesses defence could not be broken and their sheer determination won out in the end. Following Fran Kirby's 60-second opener, Spain were dominant in possession and the organisation and resilience of centre-backs Millie Bright and skipper Steph Houghton was pivotal in securing a win.

Taylor completed the job at the other end of the pitch with a late second to bag her fourth goal of the tournament.

The Lionesses topped their group with a 2-1 win against Portugal to reach the quarter finals, where they dispatched of a strong French side to reach the last four. 

Tournament-ending Injury 

England were dealt with a major blow in their quarter-final against France however.

Goalkeeper Karen Bardsley suffered a tournament-ending broken leg following a collision with team-mate Houghton, the Manchester City \keeper astonishingly continued playing for 14 minutes before being replaced by Siobhan Chamberlain

Liverpool's Chamberlain will also replace Bardsley against the Netherlands.

Otherwise midfielder Jill Scott - who scored the extra-time winner against the Netherlands in the semis eight years ago - is suspended after picking up a costly second booking of the competition last time out.

Previous meetings

England last met the Netherlands in November in Tilburg, with Sampson's side winning 1-0 with a late goal from Taylor.

In a total of 19 previous encounters stretching back to 1973, the Lionesses have scored 26 goals to Holland's 11 and have run out winners in 12 of the matches played, drawing four and losing just three. 

But, one thing that won't be on England's side on August 3 is the crowd. A sell-out is suggested for the semi-final fixture, which could potentially break the record attendance for a women's game in the Netherlands.

However, Sampson's team have dealt well with home crowds in major tournaments before. Their experience in Canada at the Women's World Cup will be one which many England players will draw from. England sent the hosts packing in the quarter finals in 2015, watched by a 54,000-strong partisan crowd. 


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