The ‘lovely bunch’ of Dutch players has rallied together after a shaky start to face England in the Euro 2024 semi-finals, and Cody Gakpo has planned religious services for them

The city of Wolfsburg is the subject of a German running joke in which it is said that sometimes, train drivers traveling westward to Berlin fail to stop at Wolfsburg Hauptbahnhof.

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At one point, it became so bad that Deutsche Bahn, the country’s train operator, had no choice but to issue an apology and pledge that it would never happen again.

Wolfsburg is a sleepy, unassuming town best known as the Volkswagen headquarters, but during the European Championship, it has become home to Ronald Koeman’s Dutch national team.After two years with Wolfsburg, Micky van de Ven moved on to Spurs. When asked about the city, he conceded, “there’s not a lot to do,” but it has been the ideal backdrop for a Dutch team that the media in the Netherlands claims is one of the most united they’ve ever witnessed.

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Cody Gakpo gushed about the group on Monday, calling them a “beautiful group.” Nearly half of the team regularly attends Gakpo’s devotional events at the team hotel. So pervasive is the team’s religious bent that they even use their official Instagram account to share Bible scriptures.

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Despite the national outcry following their group stage loss to Austria—a performance that Koeman characterized as a “disgrace”—the Dutch officials have been pleasantly surprised by the lack of controversy within the squad. As a result, the team narrowly avoided elimination from the group as one of the four best third-placed teams.

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“We tоld eаch оther the truth, sо the аtmоsphere didn’t gо tоо sоur аfter аustriа,” Gаkpо emphаsized.

Before their Round of 16 victory over Romania, Memphis Depay declared, “the tournament is starting now,” capturing the attitude of the Dutch players, who have treated the tournament as a “new tournament” ever since.They, like England, have benefited from not drawing Germany, Spain, France, or Portugal; yet, in both of their knockout matches, England has need extra time.

After advancing to the semi-finals with victories over Romania and Turkey, the Dutch are feeling confident after demonstrating in the elimination rounds that they can play excellent football and still come out on top. This is their first semi-final appearance since 2014 and their first in this competition since 2004.

Koeman addressed the difficulties ahead following their tournament-best performance—a victory against Romania—in the match.

Tо succeed as Dutchmen, he added, “we have tо play well and play оffensive fооtball,” even thоugh a victоry is crucial.