EURO 2024: 4 Players Who Performed & 3 Who Underperformed In The Semi-Finals

England Spain EURO 2024
England Spain EURO 2024

The 2024 European Championship (EURO 2024) witnessed two breathtaking semi-finals this week. On Tuesday, July 9, the most in-form team of the tournament, Spain, took on Kylian Mbappe’s goal-shy France. Against the run of play, Les Bleus drew first blood in the eighth minute, courtesy of a header from Randal Kolo Muani. La Roja, however, did not trail for long, equalizing through a world-class strike from Lamine Yamal in the 21st minute. Four minutes later, Dani Olmo found the back of the net to seal a 2-1 victory over France.

The following day, on July 10, England locked horns with the Netherlands, looking to qualify for their second consecutive EURO final. The Three Lions endured a calamitous start, as Xavi Simons fired the Dutch ahead inside the first 10 minutes. However, England’s luck turned shortly after, as VAR intervened to give them a penalty. Harry Kane confidently dispatched the spot-kick to level the score at 1-1. Finally, in the first minute of injury time, super-sub Ollie Watkins won the game for Gareth Southgate’s side, scoring a fine goal from a tight angle.

As we prepare for the EURO 2024 decider between Spain and England on July 14, let’s take a look at how some of the star players fared in the semi-finals. Continue reading to meet the four standout performers and three underperformers from the two semi-finals.

Performed: Dani Olmo (Spain)

Dani Olmo Was One Of The Heroes Of EURO 2024 Semi-Finals
Dani Olmo Helped Spain Through To The Finals

One of the heroes of Spain’s sensational EURO 2024 campaign, Dani Olmo delivered another masterclass in the semi-final clash with France. Filling in for the injured Pedri, Olmo knocked the ball around with purpose, made dangerous runs into the area, and found the back of the net with a fine strike in the 25th minute.

The RB Leipzig man executed two brilliant touches to bring Jesus Navas’ deflected cross under his control and create shooting space close to the right-hand post. With William Saliba closing in, Olmo fired toward the left-hand post and found the back of the net thanks to Jules Kounde’s botched attempted clearance. The goal aside — his third in three knockout games — Olmo completed 35 passes with 85% accuracy, pulled off two dribbles, delivered four accurate long balls, and won four ground duels.

Underperformed: N’Golo Kante (France)

N'Golo Kante Underperformed In EURO 2024 Semi-Finals
N’Golo Kante Failed To Create Even A Single Chance Against Spain

Coming out of a two-year hibernation, N’Golo Kante slid into Didier Deschamps’ France XI for EURO 2024. In the first five games, he fully justified his inclusion, but the quintessential Kante calmness that made France tick was missing in their 2-1 defeat to Spain in the semi-finals.

Kante failed to get into the game, roaming around in non-threatening areas before coming off the pitch in the 62nd minute. Throughout his hour-long run, Kante completed 25 passes with 83% accuracy, did not create a single goalscoring opportunity, and played only six passes into the final third. A night to forget for the 2018 FIFA World Cup winner.

Performed: Xavi Simons (Netherlands)

Xavi Simons Was One Of The Best Performers Of EURO 2024 Semi-Finals
Xavi Simons Was In Fine Form Against England

The Netherlands suffered a heartbreaking exit to England on Wednesday, losing 2-1 in injury time. The defeat would have been especially difficult to swallow for Xavi Simons, who played an incredible match against the Three Lions.

In the seventh minute, Simons robbed Declan Rice of possession, drove toward the box, and dispatched a piledriver of a shot from outside the penalty area. The ball, hit with ferocity, swerved into the top-left corner of the English goal. The stunner aside, Simons completed 33 passes with 87% accuracy, created a chance, played six passes into the final third, and won a couple of tackles.

Underperformed: Cody Gakpo (Netherlands)

Cody Gakpo Fired A Blank Against England
Cody Gakpo Fired A Blank Against England

While Xavi Simons led the Netherlands with his drive and creativity, one of the joint top-scorers of the competition, Cody Gakpo, failed to live up to his high standards against England. Kyle Walker did a number on the Liverpool attacker, not allowing him any running room. Unable to stretch his legs, the 25-year-old helplessly watched the game pass him by.

Gakpo only had 22 touches against England — the least of any outfield player to complete the game. He also completed just 10 passes, failed to attempt any shots, and lost six of eight ground duels. Had Gakpo managed to find his shooting boots, Oranje’s night probably would not have ended in heartbreak.

Performed: Harry Kane (England)

Harry Kane Was In Fine Form In EURO 2024 Semi-Finals
Harry Kane Scored The Opening Goal For England In The Second Semi-Final

After receiving a lot of flak for his subdued performances, England skipper Harry Kane finally showed glimpses of his inventive attacking play in the EURO 2024 semi-final clash with the Netherlands. He won a penalty, albeit fortunate, in the 18th minute, drawing a foul from Denzel Dumfries. Kane held his nerve during the lengthy VAR review and then dispatched an unstoppable penalty, finding the bottom-left corner with his strike.

The Bayern Munich man also contributed to England’s build-up, completing 13 passes, delivering three accurate long balls, and creating a chance. It will be interesting to see if he can keep up the good work when England face the most in-form team of EURO 2024, Spain, in the final on July 14.

Underperformed: Kylian Mbappe (France)

Kylian Mbappe Was One Of The Underperformers In The Semi-Finals
Kylian Mbappe Broke His Nose In France’s Win Over Austria

Arguably the best forward in the world, Kylian Mbappe, failed to live up to his lofty standards during EURO 2024. The France captain broke his nose on Matchday 1 and never looked quite the same, even after taking off the dreaded mask for the semi-final clash with Spain.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup winner had a good start to the game against Spain, setting up Randal Kolo Muani with a lovely cross in the eighth minute. But unfortunately for Les Bleus, it turned out to be the highlight of Mbappe’s night. Spanish defenders marked him tightly, not giving him the space to run into. They also put their bodies on the line to keep Mbappe from scoring.

Throughout the night, Mbappe only had one attempt on target, which Unai Simon comfortably dealt with. He also failed to pull off three of four attempted dribbles and lost five of six duels.

Performed: Lamine Yamal (Spain)

Lamine Yamal Has Been The Breakout Player In EURO 2024
Lamine Yamal Scored A World-Class Goal Against France

At the summit sits the most gifted teenager in world soccer, Spanish right-winger Lamine Yamal. The Barcelona ace, who will celebrate his 17th birthday on July 13, delivered a historic performance in Spain’s 2-1 victory over France in the first EURO 2024 semi-final, scoring one of the best goals of the tournament in the 21st minute.

Receiving the ball around 30 yards away from Mike Maignan’s goal, Yamal sold Adrien Rabiot a dummy, opened up a bit of shooting space, and let loose a curler with his left foot. The ball crashed against the top-left corner of the French post before rippling the netting. With the goal, Yamal became the youngest player in history to score in major tournaments, beating the previous record-holder, three-time World Cup winner, Pele.

The stunner aside, Yamal created two chances, made four recoveries, and won five ground duels.

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