Merson: England will beat Netherlands – but world-class Kane must start

In his latest Sky Sports column, Paul Merson says he would be “shocked” if England failed to beat Netherlands in Wednesday’s Euro 2024 semi final – but Harry Kane must start up top.

Read on for the Magic Man’s thoughts on the “crazy” calls to leave captain Kane on the bench, Gareth Southgate’s harshest critics and a big premonition – England will play France in the Euro 2024 final on Sunday…

‘Calls to drop Kane are nonsense’

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Former England midfielder Paul Merson believes dropping Harry Kane wouldn’t solve any problems for England, saying there’s no chance he should be benched.

Absolutely no chance Kane doesn’t start. The man is world class. He hasn’t got going yet, just like Kylian Mbappe hasn’t. They turn up in big games. In big games you want your big players on the pitch.

He hasn’t been provided with much service, he hasn’t had loads of crosses or chances. He’s one of the best centre forwards in world football, so you get him on the pitch and you keep him on the pitch.

I was shocked when he came off [against Switzerland], I know he was tired, but you still have him taking a penalty.

Drop him at your peril. When people starting talking about Kane being dropped, it’s crazy talk.

‘Guehi over Konsa – plus Shaw’

Marc Guehi and Luke Shaw are pushing to start against the Netherlands
Marc Guehi and Luke Shaw are pushing to start against the Netherlands

Marc Guehi will be incredibly unlucky is he doesn’t get straight back in [after serving his one-game suspension].

Ezri Konsa did well [against Switzerland], but I’d go with Guehi. We’ve got short memories, in the group stages Guehi was our best player.

And I’d definitely take a chance on Luke Shaw. The team needs balance. Nothing against Trippier, I’m a big fan, but if you can get 60 minutes out of Shaw, it’s better to start him and take him off.

‘Critics have been harsh – but England have another gear’

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Sky Sports’ Peter Smith looks at the underwhelming stats and figures surrounding Harry Kane’s Euros display so far, and questions whether the Bayern Munich striker is fully fit and firing for the Three Lions.

I know how hard it is to perform for England and I’ve been harsh on the team because they haven’t yet hit the heights I expected, but it’s not easy. This is where it starts. It depends who turns up for these next two games.

We are two games away from doing something that I didn’t think would happen in my lifetime. We just need a bit of movement and that will spark confidence, this is a great team.

There will be a lot of talent on show from both sides on Wednesday, so you need a bit of luck too, get that first goal.

I don’t see the Dutch beating us, I’d be more shocked if they beat us than if Switzerland had – England haven’t got out of third gear.

‘Prepare for an England vs France final’

England's manager Gareth Southgate celebrates after winning the penalty shootout of a quarterfinal match between England and Switzerland at the Euro 2024 soccer tournament in Duesseldorf, Germany, Saturday, July 6, 2024. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
Merse expects England to overcome the Dutch before meeting France in Sunday’s Euro 2024 final

England will win it, I’ve said it from day one. I haven’t changed my mind. Neither France or England have hit their heights and they are both in the semi-finals of a major tournament, it just shows you how good they are.

I think we beat the Dutch 2-0, and then we play France in the final. I expect France to beat Spain.

Spain have been good at times but France haven’t got going yet. So it’ll be an England-France final, with England winning 2-1.

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