The inaugural Nations League Final takes place between host nation Portugal and the Netherlands on Sunday 9 June at 7.45pm, with the third-place play-off between Switzerland and England taking place in the afternoon at 2pm.
Both semi-finals were tighter than the eventual 3-1 score-lines suggest, and it will be interesting to see which teams come out on top. Check out our stats, analysis, and free tips for the Nations League Finals 2019.
Switzerland vs England
England may have the players and team spirit to steamroller poor teams nowadays, and even the players to go toe-to-toe with some of the big guns of world football, but their lack of a world-class creative midfielder still means they’re susceptible at the highest level.
It may have been England’s defenders that made the mistakes that cost them the match against the Netherlands on Thursday night, but it was the lack of movement and passing options in midfield that ultimately put the pressure on the likes of John Stones.
However, whilst England’s defence couldn’t keep the Dutch at bay, and Switzerland’s goal against Portugal meant that the Swiss have now scored 11 goals in their last four matches, the bookies may have overreacted by offering 5/4 (and better in places) about both teams not to score.
England have beaten the Swiss to nil on each of the last three occasions they’ve met, twice in qualifying for Euro 2016 and again in a friendly in September of 2018. As England only managed to score from a penalty on Thursday evening, there’s also the chance that Switzerland could win to nil if both teams are deflated after their semi-final defeats.
Portugal vs Netherlands
Portugal headed into Wednesday night’s match with Switzerland on the back of four successive draws, and looked to be heading for a fifth until that man Cristiano Ronaldo stepped up once again to fire his country into the final with two goals in the final few minutes to complete his hat-trick and a Portuguese victory.
However, Ronaldo was also in fine form in the lead up when the two teams met last time in Portugal in a friendly in March 2018. He had scored in a run of 10 straight games for club and country coming into that match, including scoring twice against Egypt in Portugal’s previous international match.
Ronaldo had an early penalty request waved away by the referee that night but, despite Portugal enjoying a high percentage of possession, he never looked like scoring. He was eventually substituted in the 68th minute, after the damage had already been done with the Netherlands having established a 3-0 half-time lead through goals by Memphis Depay, Ryan Babel, and Virgil Van Dijk.
It’s also worth remembering that the Dutch side came into that game on the back of a 1-0 defeat by England, who they’ve just beaten 3-1. That suggests they’ve improved in the 18-months since the Netherlands and Portugal met at the beginning of manager Ronald Koeman’s time in charge.
That’s why, despite Portugal having home advantage, there’s a strong case for backing the Netherlands to come out on top.
Virgil Van Dyck also looks terrific value to score at any time at around 10/1, and it would be a fitting end to the season if the brilliant defender could score the winner on his way to clinching the Nations League and probably the Ballon d’Or.