The Netherlands take on England in the second semi-final of the inaugural Nations League tournament. It will be the first competitive meeting between the sides since the 1996 European Championship, when England won 4-1. They will be hoping for a similar outcome this time but will also be well aware of what the Netherlands are capable of.
England come into the match as slight favorites but it should be a well contested battle. With both countries going through transitional periods, there will be an abundance of exciting young talent on show.
The Netherlands qualified for the semi-finals with a 90th-minute equalizer against Germany. They picked up some eye-catching results in their other group matches, most notably beating the 2018 World Cup winners France 2-0. They averaged two goals per game in the group stage and could cause England some serious trouble on the attack.
England had to overcome Spain and Croatia to reach the semi-finals. Despite losing their opening match 2-1 against Spain, they went on to get their revenge by beating the Spaniards on their own turf. A victory against 2018 World Cup semi-finalists Croatia in their final group match was enough to clinch a spot at the finals in Portugal.
Historically there has been very little between the two teams. They have faced each other 21 times, drawing nine and winning six games each. They are relatively evenly matched at the present time too and will both know it won’t be easy to reach the final.
Many of the Netherland’s players belong to clubs in the English Premier League. Players from both squads will be very familiar with one another and this could lead to some exciting personal battles on the pitch. In total, six of their squad ply their trade in England and they will no doubt relish the chance to line up against their club team mates.
Youngsters Frenkie de Jong, Donny van de Beek and Matthijs de Ligt all starred in Ajax’s amazing Champions League run last season and will be heading into the match against England full of confidence.
England have their fair share of wonderkids too. Jadon Sancho comes into the tournament off the back of a stunning breakthrough season for Borussia Dortmund. The 19-year-old scored 12 Bundesliga goals and registered 14 assists last campaign. Trent Alexander-Arnold and Raheem Sterling also had standout domestic seasons.
Gareth Southgate’s men have been building something special over the past couple of years and would love to have something to show for their efforts by claiming the Nations League trophy.
One factor that could go against the Three Lions is the all-English Champions League final just days before. A total of 8 players from their squad could feature in that match; 3 representing Liverpool and 5 representing Tottenham. England will be hoping they arrive back injury free and fully fit to face the Netherlands.
It’s going to be a tight affair in Guimaraes. Both teams are solid defensively but England are more clinical in front of goal and this is what separates give them a slight advantage. The two teams are very evenly matched but I fancy England to beat the Netherlands and progress to the final.