In exactly a month’s time from now, Portugal will play host to the 2019 Nations League finals. The inaugural edition of the tournament is down to the final four, and it’s perhaps not the quartet many would’ve expected when the competition began in September last year. Portugal, Switzerland, England, and the Netherlands are the four semi-finalists with the winner to be crowned the first ever Nations League champions. Bar England, none of the other three made it to the last four of the World Cup. The Netherlands didn’t even qualify for the quadrennial extravaganza in Russia, but have managed a mini resurrection of sorts.
When the Nations League tournament was originally announced, it was met with cynicism by many football fans. Despite initial reactions being negative, especially with the tournament following directly on the heels of the 2018 World Cup, many football fans have come around to the event. If you believe you can predict the team that can win the competition, use this Matchbook sign up bonus code to get the latest offers on the tournament.
England have injury issues heading into the UEFA Nations League semifinals. Striker Harry Kane is expected to miss the tournament due to ankle ligament damage suffered during Tottenham Hotspur’s Champions League quarterfinal first leg against Manchester City.
Bournemouth striker Callum Wilson could take Kane’s place as he is having a standout season. Wilson has 14 goals and nine assists this term. Even without Kane, England have plenty of exciting young players who can fill the void- one among them being Jadon Sancho, who’s been in fine form in the Bundesliga this season, but the Spurs forward brings big tournament experience that is hard to replicate.
England will be tested by the Netherlands in their final four match-up and it should be the most exciting of the two UEFA Nations League semifinal games. As mentioned above, the Netherlands have recovered from missing out on both Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup and Ronald Koeman has transformed the Dutch into a tough side with top players such as Georginio Wijnaldum, Virgil van Dijk, and Memphis Depay.
The Dutch will take on England in the semifinal having topped the most difficult group in League A. The Oranje defeated Germany and France, with the world champions being bested on goal difference.
Portugal qualified for the UEFA Nations League without Cristiano Ronaldo. It isn’t the first time Portugal accomplished a seemingly unachievable task without the star forward. The Selecao won the 2016 European Championship after Ronaldo went off injured in the opening moments of the game.
Since qualifying for the UEFA Nations League semifinal, Ronaldo has returned to the Portugal fold. He appeared in Portugal’s two European Championship 2020 qualifying matches, which both ended in draws. Could Portugal be falling back on a crutch of reliance on Ronaldo?
Switzerland overcame Belgium on goal difference in League A Group 2 thanks to a +9-goal difference. They may not have been the most fancied team in the group, but Switzerland came out of the trio of teams with nine points from 12.
The Swiss may not be flashy or have the best players of the four sides left in the Nations League, but as they showed in the World Cup, they can stand toe to toe with any team in the world.
Manager Vladimir Petkovic’s biggest issue may be finding a striker who can score goals. Benfica’s Haris Seferovic is the team’s most experienced and highest scoring striker option (17 goals). Xherdan Shaqiri is another one of Petkovic’s top players, but the Liverpool man hasn’t been a regular at Anfield this season.
UEFA Nations League Semi-finals
Portugal v Switzerland at the Estadio do Dragao (June 5)
Netherlands v England at Estadio D. Afonso Henriques stadium (June 6)