Match Preview: Netherlands vs England

Holland and England square off in the second UEFA Nations League semi-final encounter at Estadio D. Afonso Henriques in Guimaraes.

England will take on the Netherlands for a place in the inaugural UEFA Nations League final, as the game kicks off at 20:45 (CET) on Thursday night.

The Dutch national team topped their group featuring the past two winners of the World Cup – France and Germany. They are finally back in business, after failing to qualify for the last two major international tournaments, the 2016 UEFA Euro and 2018 FIFA World Cup.

England will play their second semi-final in two years, as they won the fourth place at the Mundial in Russia last summer. The Three Lions topped the Group 4A, getting seven points in the games against Spain and Croatia.

The winner will face either Portugal or Switzerland in the UEFA Nations League Final, as both sides go head-to-head in the first semi-final, tonight at Estadio do Dragao in Porto.

Team news

Holland head coach Ronaldo Koeman was one of the leaders of the generation which has won the only international trophy for the Dutch national team back in 1988.

The fitness of Champions League winners Virgil van Dijk and Georginio Wijnaldum will probably be his only major concern for the UEFA Nations League final four tournament.

Gareth Southgate will have a serious selection headache, as seven players of his 23-man squad featured in the Champions League final last Saturday.

England captain Harry Kane played 90 minutes for Spurs in the UCL decider over the last weekend. However, the striker showed that he is not fully fit after returning from an ankle injury, so Marcus Rashford is likely to start up front, alongside Raheem Sterling and Jadon Sancho.

What did the managers say

Ronald Koeman believes the Dutch national team has the best central defensive duo in the world at the moment.

“We have the best central defenders with De Ligt and Virgil. That’s great because you build the house, always, from downstairs. You don’t start with the roof,” he said via talksport.

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“When you look at Virgil now, this is a big, big personality on the pitch. He is a leader. That is why I made him captain. 

“De Ligt is only 19! If you watch him play, you do not see a player who is only 19. You see a player who plays with so much more experience than he actually has.”

England boss Gareth Southgate would like to guide the national team to their first major trophy since 1966.

“We’re really looking forward to the opportunity to finish the summer off, once everything’s done,” he said via FA’s official website. “It’s a great opportunity for us to build on the last 12 months.

“I know the players will be particular excited for this opportunity and to be two games away from winning a trophy, against top opposition throughout this competition, it would be another significant step for us.

“It’s been an incredible couple of weeks for English football really, both with the European ties and in the Championship play-offs, all really exciting matches and the start of trophies being handed out.”

Stats

The last competitive game between England and the Netherlands was at the 1996 UEFA Euro, where Alan Shearer and Teddy Sheringham scored two each, to secure a 4-1 victory for the Three Lions.

Their most recent encounter came in March 2018, with Jesse Lingard’s strike in the second half being the only difference between both sides.

The Oranje won against both Germany and France in the group stage of the UEFA Nations League. However, they suffered a defeat in their last game back in March, losing 3-2 to the German national team in a 2020 UEFA Euro qualifier.

England is undefeated in their last seven games since September, noting six wins and a draw in the process.

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