The Nations League may have been initially met with a lukewarm reception by some, but there is no doubt that it has given international football a new focus and has done away with the tedium that tends to come with friendly game after friendly game. It also means that there is another trophy up for grabs and over the next few days, the four teams still in with a chance of winning the very first Nations League trophy, will battle it out in Portugal for the honour.
You’d have got a fair bit of cash on Portugal, the Netherlands, Switzerland and England being the last four teams left standing, especially when you consider the likes of World Cup Winners France, Germany, Spain, Belgium and Italy have all been eliminated but that is the case as we head to the first semifinal, which takes place on Wednesday night in Oporto, with the host nation Portugal facing Switzerland.
This is then followed 24-hours later by the game with most interest for fans in England as Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions attempt to continue their improvement by taking on another team that is rising like a phoenix from the flames in the shape of the talented Netherlands side, managed by ex-Everton and Southampton manager Ronald Koeman.
In this article, we are going to preview both games, give you our tips for each and then give you who we are going to back to win the tournament outright when the final (along with the third-place playoff match) is contested on Sunday.
As such, if you fancy a bet on the games this week, or the outright winner market, then head on over to bet365 Sport to place your bets. New customers can join using the current Bet365 New Player Bonus, which offers a great deal to new customers and a little added extra once you deposit and start betting on the site.
Let’s now preview how we see both semifinals going, before giving you our verdict on who will win the tournament outright on Sunday.
Nations League Semifinals Preview
Portugal v Switzerland
Portugal are the defacto host of the first Europa League finals stage and their hopes of lifting the trophy on home soil were boosted when Cristiano Ronaldo made himself available for the team again after sitting out the qualifying campaign. Add to that a raft of talented youngsters coming through such as Wolves duo Ruben Neves and Diego Jota, plus Benfica starlet Joao Felix and this could well be one of the strongest Portugal sides for many years.
They will face a Switzerland side who have become one of the most difficult sides to beat in all of European football. A stunning 5-2 win over Belgium in their final group game meant that the Swiss defeated Belgium and Iceland to top spot in their group. Well organised, physically strong but with some genuine talent in attack, the Swiss are a side that are pragmatic rather than spectacular, but they are capable of giving anyone a game on their day.
The game will be played in Porto, as will the final, and that is arguably an advantage for the winner of this game, but they do face a tough 90 minutes here. Both sides are very strong defensively and both focus on that side of the game first and foremost, so it is not a game that I can see being one awash with goals.
Having said that, I think Portugal have two key advantages, I feel they have unquestionably the better attacking talent and I also feel that home advantage will be help, rather than a hindrance to them. As such, I am backing Portugal to come through this game, although I would not expect there to be more than one goal in it come the end of 90 minutes.
Tip – Portugal to win – 4/6 at bet365.
England v Netherlands
Both these teams made it through tough groups to qualify for the semifinals, England defeated both Spain and Croatia to earn a spot in the semis, while the Netherlands pipped World Cup Winners France and Germany to earn their spot in the semifinals.
Both these teams are very much on an upward curve in terms of form. England’s strong showing at the World Cup and Nations League qualification has turned them into one of the top sides in Europe but they still have not won a trophy since 1966. The Netherlands endured miserable qualifying campaigns for the last two major tournaments, but now look back to something like their best and should do well in the forthcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers.
Both sides had a number of players turn up to their HQ late due to their involvement in the Champions League final last weekend, so their preparation for the game won’t have been ideal, but I despite that I think a number of those players will start for their teams, notably Harry Kane and Jordan Henderson for England and Gini Wijnaldum and Virgil van Dijk for the Netherlands.
England won 1-0 in Holland when the teams last back in 2018, but it is fair to say the teams have improved since then and after wins over France and Germany, the Dutch will be approaching this game with England with every confidence.
That said, I still feel that England have slightly better strength in depth and I think they just about have the edge to clinch the win here.
Tip – England to win – 31/20 at bet365
Who wins the tournament outright?
Having suggested that it will be an England v Portugal final in the Nations Cup, I think it is a huge ask for Gareth Southgate’s men to beat Portugal on home soil. At Wembley, I’d have fancied England and even on a neutral venue, I feel England would be favourites but Portugal on home soil is a very tough ask so I’d back Portugal to claim the win outright at 7/4 with bet365.
I’d also back the Netherlands to win the third-place match to ensure that they finish third in the competition to set themselves up nicely for the Euro 2020 qualifiers coming up later in the year.