England and the Netherlands will square off in the second UEFA Nations League semifinal on Thursday. The Three Lions are favored to win this match due in large part to the strength of English football over the last 12 months. We saw England make it to the World Cup Semifinals for the first time since 1990, and English teams won both the Champions League and the Europa League. However, that has led to a bit of fatigue, and the Dutch will have fresher legs as a whole this Thursday.
- Date and Time: June 6, 2019, 2:45 p.m. ET
- Location: Estadio D. Afonso Henriques, Guimaraes, Portugal
- US Television Coverage: ESPN2, Univision
- Betting Line: England PK and -0.5, O/U 2.5
When the UEFA Nations League groups were announced, Netherlands were seen by most observers as the team likely to be relegated out of Group 1. They had been drawn into a group with possibly the two best teams on the continent in France and Germany, and there wasn’t a lot of faith in the Dutch after they failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. However, they overcame expectations by beating Germany 3-0 at home in October and followed that up with a 2-0 win over France in Holland in November. The Dutch needed a result against Germany in their last game in order to advance, yet things looked bleak after Germany took a 2-0 lead into the final 10 minutes. Fortunately for the Orange, Quincy Promes and Virgil van Dijk netted to grab the draw the Netherlands needed.
It doesn’t mean as much as an appearance in the World Cup Final, but England did get some revenge against Croatia after the two nations were matched together in Group 4. The Three Lions needed to win their last two matches in order to advance out of the group, and they took care of business against Spain in Sevilla in October. That left Croatia and England to battle for the group at Wembley, and anything other than a win for Croatia would have left them relegated. After a scoreless first half, Croatia took a 1-0 lead, but then Jesse Lingard and Harry Kane scored to win the group for England and send Croatia to League B.
England Player to Watch
Seven players on England’s roster took part in the Champions League Final on Saturday. With Harry Kane playing the full 90 minutes and Dele Alli playing most of it, manager Gareth Southgate may rely on fresher offensive options. This could be Raheem Sterling’s moment to shine. Sterling had a fantastic season for Manchester City in the Premier League, and the 24-year-old is really coming into his own. He netted a brace on the road against Spain in October, and he will be out to make a difference here.
Netherlands Player to Watch
Frenkie de Jong has had an incredible season. The young midfielder was one of the biggest catalysts behind Ajax’s Champions League run, and he has proven adept at setting things up for his teammates. He will move to Barcelona next year after the club paid a hefty transfer fee for his services, but he would love to win a title for the Netherlands before he heads to Spain.
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UEFA Nations League Free Picks
Although the Netherlands will have two players that could be a bit fatigued after the Champions League final in Virgil van Dijk and Georginio Wijnaldum, they are still more fresh as a whole. I believe that the Ajax contingent that played such inspired football this season will recapture that form in leading the Dutch to the final.
UEFA Nations League Prediction: Netherlands 2, England 1
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