Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Euro 2024: Will France play Netherlands in a third-place playoff this summer?

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Sports Mole discusses whether France and Netherlands will take to the field for a third-place playoff at Euro 2024.

France‘s quest for Euro 2024 glory came to an end on Tuesday evening, as they were beaten 2-1 by Spain in the first semi-final of this summer’s European Championship.

Randal Kolo Muani sent Didier Deschamps‘s side into a ninth-minute lead in Munich, but Lamine Yamal levelled the scores before Dani Olmo turned the match around for Spain.

France underwhelmed this summer, only winning one of their three group matches, before squeezing past Belgium in the round of 16 courtesy of a 1-0 success.

The Blues then needed penalties to overcome Portugal in the quarter-finals, but they were unable to navigate past Spain to secure a spot in the final against Netherlands.

France’s European Championship has now officially come to an end, as they will not be taking part in a third-place playoff at the competition in Germany, and the same can also be said for Netherlands, with Ronald Koeman‘s side losing 2-1 to England in the competition’s second semi-final on Wednesday night.

© Reuters

Why is there not a third-place playoff at Euro 2024?

There has not been a third-place playoff at a European Championship since 1980, with Czechoslovakia beating tournament hosts Italy 9-8 on penalties following a 1-1 draw.

UEFA decided to scrap the match due to poor television ratings and low crowds, so the fixture has not been held since Euro 1980.

England finished third at the 1968 competition, while Belgium and Netherlands were third in 1972 and 1976 respectively before Czechoslovakia triumphed in the one-off fixture in 1980.

The World Cup still has a third-place playoff, although it is a controversial fixture.

Croatia took on Morocco in the third-place fixture at the 2022 World Cup, recording a 2-1 victory, as the European nation finished behind Argentina and France in the tournament.

France manager Didier Deschamps reacts in June 2024© Reuters

What now for France?

The future of head coach Deschamps had been called into question despite the fact that the legendary former midfielder has a contract with the Blues until the summer of 2026.

The 55-year-old was not prepared to discuss his position with the national side when questioned immediately after the narrow defeat to Spain on Tuesday night.

However, the president of the French Football Federation later confirmed that Deschamps would be remaining in charge despite suggestions that Zinedine Zidane could take over for the 2026 World Cup qualification campaign.

France’s players will now have a short rest period before returning to their club teams to prepare for the 2024-25 campaign.

The Blues will then be back in action against Italy in the UEFA Nations League at the start of September, while they will also take on Belgium and Israel in Group 2 of League A.

England manager Gareth Southgate reacts on July 6, 2024© Reuters

Which team will Spain face in the final?

England and Netherlands went head-to-head on Wednesday evening for the second spot in the final.

The Three Lions overcame Switzerland on penalties in the quarter-finals to book their position in the final four, while the Netherlands recorded a 2-1 win over Turkey.

The second semi-final appeared to be heading for extra-time, as Harry Kane‘s penalty had cancelled out an early opener from Xavi Simons, who had picked out the top corner with a stunning strike.

However, Ollie Watkins came off the bench to score a last-gasp winner for Gareth Southgate‘s side, sending them into the final of the competition.

England lost on penalties to Italy in the final of Euro 2020, and they will now be coming up against a Spain outfit that have been arguably the most impressive side at the tournament this summer.

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