England want to create legacy – Sampson

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Mark Sampson’s side have won seven games in a row, including four at Euro 2017
Women’s Euro 2017 semi-final: Netherlands v England
Venue: Enschede, the Netherlands Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio 5 live and online; live text commentary on the BBC Sport website; live on Channel 4

England boss Mark Sampson says they “want to create a legacy” at Women’s Euro 2017, going into Thursday’s semi-final against hosts the Netherlands.

The Lionesses are two wins away from lifting their first ever major trophy.

England meet the hosts at 19:45 BST in Enschede, after Denmark face Austria in the first semi-final in Breda at 17:00.

“We’ll still be looking to establish ourselves as the best team in Europe. Our mission is to become the best team in the world,” Sampson told BBC Sport.

“I trust the players. They’re working very hard and they’re all 100% committed to giving us every chance of winning on Thursday night.”

Victory for England on Thursday would see them reach their second European Championship final in eight years, having beaten the Netherlands 2-1 in the semi-final of Euro 2009.

How did they reach the semi-finals?

England have scored more goals (11) than any other side in the tournament

Group D winners England and Group A winners the Netherlands are the only two teams with 100% records at Euro 2017.

Sampson’s side have beaten Scotland, Spain, Portugal and France to reach this stage, while the Oranje overcame Norway, Denmark, Belgium and Sweden.

“We know how hard we’ve worked but we’ve got to find our maximum performance levels,” Sampson added. “These four victories have put us in with a chance.

“We can be at our best in these big tense games under pressure. We can be at our best under the pressure these big games bring.”

Euro 2017 consisted of four teams of four, with the top two teams in each group progressing to the quarter-finals, which also saw holders Germany eliminated by Denmark and Austria beat Spain on penalties.

England’s 1-0 win over France in Sunday’s quarter-final in Deventer was their first victory over Les Bleues since 1974.

England missing two for last-four tie

Bardsley injury ‘massive blow’ for England – captain Houghton

That win came at a cost for the Lionesses, who lost goalkeeper Karen Bardsley to a broken leg, while midfielder Jill Scott picked up a suspension with her second yellow card of the tournament.

The Manchester City pair will be the only forced absentees from Sampson’s side on Thursday.

“Obviously we are all really disappointed for Karen – she’s had a fantastic tournament so far and she hasn’t conceded a goal,” replacement keeper Siobhan Chamberlain said.

“But this is why we have a strong goalkeeper union, you never know who is going to be called upon. The four goalkeepers in the England squad are pushing each other to be the best and ultimately I want to be out there playing.

“You don’t want the misfortune of others to be the reason you’re playing but if it happens you’ve got to grasp it with both hands.”

Records set to tumble

Enschede will also host the final on Sunday, 6 August

The stadium in Enschede – the home of Eredivisie side FC Twente – has sold out for Thursday’s game, which will see a record crowd for a women’s football match in the Netherlands, estimated at more than 27,000.

According to Uefa, interest in the match from journalists has been unprecedented for the women’s game in Europe, with 132 members of the media accredited for the tie, including 43 photographers.

The home nation expect to eclipse their domestic television audience from their quarter-final, which attracted 2.1 million viewers (54.1% share in the Netherlands).

Meanwhile, the peak audience of 3.3m on Channel 4 for England’s win over France was a reported record for British women’s football.

How good are the Netherlands?

The Netherlands beat Sweden 2-0 in their quarter-final on Saturday

The Dutch squad includes six players from English Women’s Super League clubs, including four Arsenal players.

Liverpool forward Shanice van de Sanden has been one of the hosts’ stars, alongside new Barcelona signing Lieke Martens on the opposite wing.

New Gunners striker Vivanne Miedema is expected to lead the Oranje’s attack once again, with Arsenal keeper Sari van Veenedaal in goal.

Like England, the Netherlands have conceded just one goal so far at Euro 2017.

“We’re aware of what they can bring,” Sampson added. “With the Dutch players that play in England, I’ve been able to watch them a lot.

“With the knowledge we’ve now got, training and playing against these players on a regular basis, we feel very confident when the pressure’s on.

“This is a massive game for both teams, probably Holland’s biggest game as a football nation since 2014.”

Could history repeat itself?

Of the current England squad, nine were at Euro 2009, including three who started the semi-final against the Netherlands: Alex Scott (top left), Casey Stoney (number three) and Fara Williams (bottom right)

England have reached the semi-finals of the Women’s European Championship four times previously, but the first three of those came when only four teams were involved in the finals of the tournament.

The most recent came in 2009, when they went all the way to the final thanks to a 2-1 win over the Netherlands, with Scott heading a late winner in extra time.

England were also victorious when the sides most recently met, in a friendly in November 2016.

Jodie Taylor’s 75th-minute winner won that game and the Arsenal striker is now the Euros’ top scorer with five goals in three appearances so far.

Analysis – ‘England are red hot favourites’

BBC 5 live and Match of the Day commentator Jonathan Pearce:

Enschede has been razed to the ground many times. England must ensure their Euro dreams don’t disappear in a bonfire of vanities now.

They have reached this far. Now they must go on to win the tournament.

France, Germany, Norway and Spain have all gone. England are red hot favourites. But there’ll be no complacency. The squad’s stated focus was to win six games, not four!

The key areas will be out wide. England’s full-backs must get the speedy Shanice van de Sanden and Lieke Martens on the back foot by driving high up the flanks. The Lionesses have started games strongly. It’ll be crucial to do so again.

Vivianne Miedema, with 17 goals in their past 19 internationals, is a handful. I expect the hosts to score. But Jodie Taylor was the difference between the two sides in November and can be so again.

Watch for a long-range goal from Jordan Nobbs against Arsenal club-mate Sari van Veenendaal, who has looked nervy.

It should be a great occasion. I’ve commentated on three previous England semi-finals. It’s time for a win!

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