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The 'leader', Gakpo's goals & a sea of orange - watch out England

It's a fixture that evokes so many memories.

England meet the Netherlands in Dortmund on Wednesday for a place in the final of Euro 2024 (20:00 BST kick-off).

Fans of a certain vintage will recall the night at Euro '96 when Alan Shearer and Teddy Sheringham, with two goals each, scored in a 4-1 win to help propel the Three Lions to the quarter-finals.

But England have suffered crushing disappointment at the hands of Dutch as well.

Marco van Basten's hat-trick helped them to a 3-1 win at Euro '88 in Dusseldorf, one of three defeats England suffered as they finished bottom of their group.

The Dutch have a rich football history.

Holland reached back-to-back World Cup finals, losing to West Germany in 1974 and Argentina in 1978.

In 2019, Dutch authorities decided to rebrand their country's international image, with a switch from calling it 'Holland' to 'The Netherlands'.

The move was part of an attempted update of its global image.

Former England defender Micah Richards, speaking to BBC Sport, said the Netherlands had players "that can hurt you" but added: "Player for player, I’d rather have the England squad than the Netherlands squad."

BBC Sport looks at England's semi-final opponents.

Leader of the pack

The Netherlands - despite finishing third in their group, behind Austria and France - are two wins from a first major tournament win since 1988.

But while England required extra time to get through the last 16, and penalties to reach the final four, the Oranje breezed past Romania before coming from behind to beat Turkey in normal time.

Leader of the pack is Virgil van Dijk, one of the world's finest defenders.

Van Dijk, who celebrates his 33rd birthday on Monday, is playing at his first Euros after missing the 2020 edition with a knee injury.

The Liverpool player helped the Dutch keep a clean sheet in a 0-0 draw against France, one of the pre-tournament favourites, in Leipzig on 21 June and has played every minute of his team's games in Germany.

"We had to dig very deep and I am proud of these guys," said Van Dijk after the 2-1 quarter-final win over Turkey. "If you see how everyone reacted and did it together. We gave it our all, with tackles and saves."

Painting Germany orange

Dutch fans have painted Germany orange during Euro 2024, bringing noise, colour and fun during their travels from Hamburg to Leipzig, Berlin to Munich.

Supporters of all 24 nations have added to a party atmosphere off the pitch but few know how to party more than the Oranje.

Their tens of thousands of fans in Germany have not just turned up to matches - they have turned them into all-day celebrations.

They are unmissable - thousands decked in bright orange taking over fan zones and city centres before their team plays.

Then they turn into a sea of orange, swaying to the sound of a techno beat blasting from speakers on a bright orange double-decker bus en route to the stadium.

"The fans are massive," Netherlands captain Van Dijk told BBC Sport. "We don’t take that for granted - we need them to come with us.

"We need unity within the whole country if we want to achieve something special."

The goal threat and the young assist king

The Netherlands have scored nine goals in their five games, with three of those coming from Van Dijk's Liverpool team-mate Cody Gakpo.

He is the tournament's joint-leading scorer along with Germany's Jamal Musiala, Ivan Schranz of Slovakia and Georgia's Georges Mikautadze.

Having scored three goals at the 2022 World Cup as well, Gakpo is just the third Dutch player to score three or more times at two different major tournaments, along with Johnny Rep (1974 and 1978 World Cups) and Dennis Bergkamp (Euro 1992, plus the 1994 and 1998 World Cups).

"Cody Gakpo looks sharp," former England defender Gary Neville told ITV.

"I went to see Ruud van Nistelrooy 12 months ago and he said Gakpo was a left-sided player and it is proven in this tournament."

In addition to Gakpo, the Dutch have an exciting forward talent in Xavi Simons.

The 21-year-old has three assists to his name at this tournament to go with the 11 he provided at RB Leipzig, where he was on loan from Paris St-Germain, in 2023-24.

From Everton sack to Euro 2024 final?

Ronald Koeman is two wins away from leading his country to glory, seven years after being sacked by Everton.

He is aiming to become only the second man after Germany's Berti Vogts to win the Euros as both a player and a manager.

At Euro '88, Koeman played alongside Frank Rijkaard, Ruud Gullit and Van Basten as the Oranje triumphed.

Koeman, who is in his second spell in charge of the national team after leaving in 2020 for Barcelona, has got fans dreaming of a tournament victory, leading his country to their first European Championship semi-final since 2004.

Will they get past England?

Ronald Koeman in action in the 1988 European Championship final against the Soviet Union in Munich
Ronald Koeman (right) was a pivotal part of the Oranje side that won the European Championship in 1988 [Getty Images]