The inaugural Europa Nations League has already seen plenty of drama, and in tonight’s final all eyes will be on Cristiano Ronaldo, as Portugal take on The Netherlands in what could be a very close game.
For one man To carry an International team is no mean feat yet Ronaldo, who played the outstanding role in Portugal’s Euro 2016 victory, scored four goals at the World Cup in 2018, and then an outstanding hat-trick in the semi-final against Switzerland – his 86th, 87th and 88th international goals – to book his side’s place in the final..
It’s not unfair to suggest that he is the difference between Portugal being favourites or not but they will need to step up a level against the Dutch.
The Netherlands did go through with the help of two errors against England in extra time but pound for pound one could say they have more quality than Switzerland. The centre back pairing of Virgil Van Dijk and Matthijs De Ligt is about as good as it can get at this level and in the back four they are also joined by Daley Blind.
The midfield, where they had a great deal of success against England, sees Gini Wijnaldum, and Frankie De Jong – both of whom were in fine form against England on Thursday – partner up whilst Steven Bergwijn provides a pacey attacking threat out wide that does complement Memphis Depay. Depay was not in particularly good form against England but he has eight international goals in 11 games since making the switch from the wing to the centre for the Dutch along with 12 goals and 16 assists for Lyon this season.
It might have taken extra time and two horror shows from England, but the Dutch won the shot count 29-13 and the shots on target count 14-3 in their semi-final, and it’s likely that bookmakers are perhaps underrating their performance and quality.
However, the Swiss were underdogs against them in midweek and were giving them a serious game after some deserved good luck thanks to a controversial VAR call saw them draw level at the penalty spot. Ronaldo’s winning goals came in the 88th and 90th minute and Switzerland won the shot count and had the most possession too.
Portugal v Netherlands
UEFA Nations League Final
19:45 Sky Sports Football / Sky Sports Ultra HD
HEAD TO HEAD RECORD
(Maximum 10 matches)
MAR 2018 FRIENDLY Portugal 0-3 Holland
AUG 2013 FRIENDLY Portugal 1-1 Holland
JAN 2012 EURO 2012 Portugal 2-1 Holland
JAN 2006 WORLD CUP Portugal 1-0 Holland
JUN 2004 EURO 2004 Portugal 2-1 Holland
APR 2003 FRIENDLY Holland 1-1 Portugal
It would be no surprise if Ronaldo was to be the person that decided this but the gap between the two is probably less than the market implies and a draw might be the best bet.
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