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Fight with Lionel Messi shows England have real cause for concern as Euro 2024 star backed

England will need to be on their guard to prevent Wout Weghorst wreaking havoc in the Euro 2024 semi-final. Despite being widely known on these shores as a Manchester United flop, the huge striker has earned a reputation as the Netherlands’ saviour at major tournaments.

Weghorst has been called upon late in each of his country’s matches at the tournament and scored a dramatic winner against Poland in the group stage. His presence has posed a huge threat to opposing teams and England will need to be prepared for his inevitable introduction, particularly if the game remains tight late on.

The Three Lions defenders must be ready for a physical battle. Weghorst has previously shown little fear in taking on the world’s best, and even had a spat with Lionel Messi after the Dutch were knocked out by Argentina at the 2022 World Cup.

The 31-year-old had scored an equaliser 11 minutes into added-time, another example of his threat late in matches, but was unable to prevent a defeat in a penalty shootout.

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While conducting his post-match interviews, Messi turned to Weghorst who was waiting behind the camera and blasted: “Who are you looking at, stupid? Go ahead, you stupid.”

Weghorst slammed the Barcelona icon as ‘disrespectful’ and claimed he only wanted to shake his hand. He insisted: “I was waiting for him and wanted to give him a hand. And he’s doing that? That’s disrespectful.”

Footage showed Weghorst had been peeking around a wall to catch Messi’s attention while he spoke.

Messi later backed down, saying: “I don’t like this picture. I don’t like what I did. There was a lot of tension and it came out naturally. A lot had happened with this player and two others during the match. It came out naturally. I don’t like this image.”

Weghorst brings chaos and a more direct route for Ronald Koeman’s side in the latter stages of matches. Former Premier League striker Chris Sutton believes the Burnley man could be the deciding factor in the semi-final on Wednesday.

“England need to beware the threat of Weghorst because he could ultimately be the striker who decides this showdown,” Sutton wrote in his Daily Mail column.

He added: “I was at the Olympiastadion in Berlin and cannot emphasise enough how much Weghorst’s half-time substitution changed the complexion of that quarter-final between Netherlands and Turkey.

“Netherlands kept trying to play through the Turkish block with Memphis Depay as the centre forward but it wasn’t working. Kudos to Ronald Koeman because for the second half, he introduced Weghorst.

“Suddenly, they had a direct line into the box. Suddenly, Turkey’s big, rugged, all-in defenders were being bullied. Suddenly, the Netherlands had Wout with the clout wreaking havoc.

“Weghorst tormented Turkey but in truth, I suspect he won’t start against England in this semi- final as Koeman knows Gareth Southgate is unlikely to throw up a low block.”

The Dutch might be famed for Total Football. But it is the old-fashioned centre-forward who could end England’s hopes of winning Euro 2024.


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