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Rediff.com  » Sports » Euro: Rice confident of England riding the momentum

Euro: Rice confident of England riding the momentum

Last updated on: July 09, 2024 18:25 IST
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England's attacking line has spluttered at Euro 2024, with Jude Bellingham and Phil Foden showing only flashes of their club form and their usual penetrating runs into the box have been lacking, but Declan Rice believes they have the momentum to beat the Dutch and win their first-ever European Championship.

Harry Kane has belied his reputation and has underperformed in the Euros so far, netting just twice 

IMAGE: Harry Kane has belied his reputation and has underperformed in the Euros so far, netting just twice. Photograph: John Sibley/Reuters

Harry Kane's England teammates have rallied behind him after a string of uninspiring performances at Euro 2024, with Luke Shaw and Trent Alexander-Arnold praising their captain's leadership and the threat his presence poses for opponents.

Kane has scored twice in the tournament but has looked out of sorts, lacking pace and short on chances, prompting calls for him to be dropped for Wednesday's semi-final against Netherlands in Dortmund.

Alexander-Arnold, however, backed Kane and said England's all-time top scorer could create chances from nothing.

 

"Anyone who is facing England would like to see Harry Kane not playing," he said.

"You just know he is a threat. Anything in and around the box, you need to be on red alert.

"He can finish it from every angle. I always say he is the best finisher I've seen or played with. He can drop down and build play up and his hold-up play is incredible too."

England's attacking line has spluttered at Euro 2024, with Jude Bellingham and Phil Foden showing only flashes of their club form and their usual penetrating runs into the box have been lacking.

Bukayo Saka was more like himself in the quarter-final win over Switzerland and scored a superb leveller to take the game to extra time and penalties, but he showed reluctance to use his pace to run at defenders who had struggled to contain him.

The Dutch, in contrast, have looked dangerous, in particular the tournament's joint-top scorer Cody Gakpo, although he faces a solid England defence that has conceded only three goals.

The Netherlands have looked shaky defensively, offering opportunities England can exploit if they can rediscover their attacking spark.

Left back Shaw, who returned from injury late in the Switzerland game, said Kane was a world-class player.

"At any time he can score a goal and make that difference. He's a very important player, he's our captain," Shaw said.

"You give him time in and around the box he'll score, he takes opportunities we know that, we see it day in day out, we know the quality he has and what he brings to the team and it's very important he's on the pitch."

Shaw said Kane had the right mindset despite his performances.

"I don't sense any frustration from him, he's the same Harry that we have from the start of the camp, nothing changed," he said.

"He'd have liked to have scored more goals. Nothing changed, he's still very positive ... he's our captain, he's our leader, he leads by example and we all follow him."

England manager Gareth Southgate with the players. 

IMAGE: England manager Gareth Southgate with the players. Photograph: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

Declan Rice is taking England's Euro 2024 semi-final against the Netherlands in his stride and believes they have the momentum to beat the Dutch and win their first-ever European Championship.

The Arsenal midfielder, the bedrock for England during what has been a lacklustre run to the last four, said he was in relaxed mood ahead of Wednesday's clash in Dortmund, while expecting a tough game.

"It's business as usual ... I don't put too much pressure on myself, I don't think about it too much," Rice told England's Lions' Den programme.

"It's another game of football, it's a semi-final and that's the only way I think about it."

"We're here for a reason, Holland are here for a reason and may the best team win. It's a game of football, we feel like we've got a really good bit of momentum on our side," he added.

The statistics underline Rice's contribution for England, covering more distance in the tournament than any other player at 63.9km (39.7 miles) over five matches, with the fourth most tackles and balls recovered.

Rice said it was all in a day's work.

"This is our job, this is what we're conditioned for, 90-minute football matches," he said.

"The bigger the games, the more driven I get and I just get extra spurts of energy ... they say I run too much but it's just a part of me, I love trying to help my teammates and I love winning the ball back."

Victory in Dortmund would send England into their second successive Euros final and their third major final overall.

Rice believes England can go all the way and urged fans to keep backing the team ahead of what he called a massive game against the Netherlands, for a chance to meet Spain or France.

"We've got a lot of respect for them. If you look at the history of the Dutch, the players they've produced, the managers ... they've always been the top nation. I'm never going to sit here and talk them down," Rice said.

"We're really confident. Keep backing us, keep supporting us because we're feeling that love, that energy. Hopefully, we can create history again by going back-to-back finals."

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Source: REUTERS
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