Ar­se­nal friends ready in Dutch-Eng­land Euro show­down

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Friends or not, Dutch keeper Sari van Vee­nen­daal will be all busi­ness when she faces her on-form Ar­se­nal team­mate and Eng­land striker Jodie Tay­lor in the Euro semi-fi­nal to­mor­row. Tay­lor is the tour­na­ment’s top scorer with five goals from just three games, after being rested for the fi­nal group game against Por­tu­gal. She scored a hat-trick against Scot­land and was on the mark against Spain in the group and France in the quar­ter-fi­nal.

“She’s on fire and it’s great for me to see this be­cause of course she’s still my team­mate,” the 27-year-old Van Vee­nen­daal told AFP at the Nether­lands’ train­ing base in Zeist.

“Ev­ery lit­tle chance is a goal. She’s a real striker, she’s run­ning, she’s work­ing hard, and she has the luck on her side. She’s a great player.” “We’re good, we did a lot of ex­tra train­ing last sea­son to pre­pare us both for the Eu­ros so I guess she knows ex­actly what kind of goal­keeper I am and I know what kind of striker she is.”

“But for now we have just one job and that’s to win our next game,” added Van Vee­nen­daal, who joined Ar­se­nal in 2015, a year be­fore Tay­lor. Van Vee­nen­daal con­ceded only once at the women’s Euro when she mis­judged Bel­gian Tessa Wul­laert’s vi­cious lob into the top cor­ner, and the Nether­lands have a per­fect record after win­ning all group games and their semi-fi­nal against Swe­den.

But so do Eng­land, who breezed through the group stage with ten goals for and one against be­fore edg­ing France 1-0 owing to Tay­lor’s clin­i­cal 60th-minute fin­ish.

“I know what kind of striker she is, I’ve played more than a sea­son with her,” says Van Vee­nen­daal. “I’m train­ing ev­ery day with her so I knew she could play like this. It doesn’t re­ally sur­prise me, to be hon­est.”

Tay­lor also scored when the two teams last met in a friendly last Novem­ber, hand­ing Eng­land a 1-0 win with a lob over Dutch keeper Loes Geurts after com­ing on as a sub­sti­tute.

“Maybe it’s good that she scored at that mo­ment be­cause now we are ready for her,” said Van Vee­nen­daal, who is not by far the only Su­per League player on the Dutch team.

“Many of our play­ers from the na­tional team here are play­ing in Eng­land so they know us re­ally well but of course we know ex­actly how they play,” she added.

Danielle van de Donk and sub­sti­tute Do­minique Janssen play for Ar­se­nal, de­fender Mandy van den Berg for Read­ing, and young striker Vi­vianne Miedema signed up with Ar­se­nal from Bay­ern Mu­nich be­fore the Euro. “We are play­ing ev­ery week on the high­est level in the English league so we know what kind of foot­ball they’re go­ing to play,” said Van Vee­nen­daal. “Of course it’s very spe­cial, I know most of the play­ers, but for now we’re play­ing for our own coun­tries and I’m from the Nether­lands and I re­ally want to beat them.”

In their last en­counter at the Euro, Eng­land beat the Nether­lands 2-1 in the 2009 semi-fi­nals after ex­tra time with the de­cider scored by Jill Scott, who is in the Nether­lands but will not play after two book­ings. “Times change for them and also for us so it’s not deja-vu,” said Van Vee­nen­daal. “We’re just play­ing our tour­na­ment, we try to pre­pare ev­ery game and Thurs­day is our next game so that’s the most im­por­tant part for now.” — AFP


BAVEL: Den­mark’s forward Pernille Harder (C) at­tends a train­ing ses­sion of the UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 foot­ball tour­na­ment in Bavel, south­ern Nether­lands yes­ter­day.—

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