• LISTEN to It's All Kicking Off! EUROS DAILY: Have England really been playing with fear at Euro 2024?
  • Jordan Pickford saved Manuel Akanji's penalty during England vs Switzerland
  • The Everton star had a 'cheat sheet' attached to his waterbottle for the shoot-out

Jordan Pickford played a pivotal role in helping England advance to the semi-finals of Euro 2024 on Saturday night with his heroics between the sticks seeing England surpass Switzerland on a penalty shoot-out. 

The Everton star, who has been superb throughout the tournament produced another excellent save to deny Switzerland defender Manuel Akanji from the spot on Saturday.

Pickford has now stopped four out of the 14 penalties he has faced in shoot-outs at major tournaments - double the number of all other England goalkeepers combined saved between 1990 and 2012, according to Opta. 

Perhaps that is partly down to the extensive homework he does, learning the tendencies of opposition players and predicting what side of the goal they are most likely to strike the ball towards.  

A photograph of Pickford's water bottle during the match later showed the predicted sides that each Switzerland player would strike the ball during the match, with Pickford successfully predicting Akanji would fire the ball left before successfully stopping the Man City star's shot. 

Gareth Southgate's side are now only one game away from reaching their second consecutive final at the Euros. Only Ronald Koeman's Netherlands stand in their way and there is the possibility that tonight's game could go the distance. 

England have gone to extra-time in both of their two previous matches at the tournament and the Three Lions boss will be hoping his players can claim victory within 90 minutes, with a potential berth in the final coming on Sunday.

Yet, for the eventuality that the game may go to penalties, Pickford will no doubt be doing his homework on the Netherlands' penalty-takers and may have his trusted water bottle at the ready, which has his 'cheat sheet' sellotaped to it, to help him predict which way to dive. 

So, what might his water bottle have written on it ahead of tonight's match? According to Sky Sports, Pickford is most likely to first come up against Virgil van Dijk in a potential shoot-out. Considering the centre back's track record of taking penalties, they predict Pickford will need to dive right and high to block the Liverpool captain's shot. 

Next up comes Memphis Depay, who has scored just once at Euro 2024 so far despite ranking as the fourth player to have the most attempts on goal, 18, at the tournament thus far. Should Wednesday night's game go to penalties, he'll be hoping to find the back of the net, but Pickford will likely need to react to how Depay hits his spot kick, which could go straight down the middle. 

Cody Gakpo has been in flying form so far during the tournament and currently ranks joint-top of the Golden Boot standings, with three goals to his name. While penalty shoot-out goals do not count towards the final top-scorers tally, Gakpo is likely to shoot to the right of the goal, with Pickford needing to dive left. 

Former Manchester United man Wout Weghorst could be the next name on the Netherlands' penalty list. The Dutchman found the back of the net in his side's opening game at Euro 2024, against Poland, but and should a potential penalty shoot-out arise, he is predicted to shoot to the left side of the goal.

Donyell Malen, meanwhile, who has two goals at the tournament, could be the Netherlands' fifth penalty taker. He could send his shot towards the right side of the goal, which means Pickford will be forced to dive to his left side to save the shot. 

Pickford, meanwhile, revealed he had to adapt his penalty routine during England's game against Switzerland because referee Daniele Orsato prevented him from doing his specific warm-up. 

'I asked him before the penalties started, I said "I've got a process",' Pickford explained to BBC Sport. 

'Maybe he didn't understand my Mackem accent! But then stopped me after I saved the first one. He must have realised "Oh, I'm not letting him do it anymore".

'But it didn't affect me, I just had to do as much as I could. I didn't want to get booked or anything, I didn't want to create dramas.'

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2024-07-10T12:02:39Z dg43tfdfdgfd