UEFA Nations League Final: Portugal vs Netherlands – Preview

Portugal will face the Netherlands at Estadio do Dragao in the inaugural UEFA Nations League Final on Sunday night.

It is going to be Cristiano Ronaldo vs Virgil van Dijk in the final of the UEFA Nations League’s first edition, as both Portugal and the Netherlands noted 3-1 victories in the semi-finals.

Ronaldo stared on his debut in the competition last Wednesday, bagging a late hat-trick to send the European champions to their second international final in three years.

The Dutch national team overcame England after the extra time in a game which saw both defenses making amateur mistakes.

Team news

Joao Felix made his international debut on Wednesday night but failed to impress in the semi-final encounter against Switzerland.

Gonzalo Guedes may replace the young Benfica starlet in the final, as hat-trick hero Cristiano Ronaldo is expected to lead the attack of the Portuguese national team.

Defender Pepe picked up a shoulder injury against Switzerland, which is expected to rule him out of the final against the Netherlands, while Danilo is available for selection, having served his suspension during the semi-finals.

Dutch manager Ronald Koeman opted to not give a rest to his Champions League winners Virgil van Dijk and Gerginio Wijnaldum against England on Thursday.

Both of them should remain in the starting XI, as Koeman doesn’t have any injury concerns before the UEFA Nations League Final.

What did the managers say

Portugal head coach Fernando Santos has praised his opponents at the press conference, saying the Netherlands have developed over the past years.

“The challenge is to try and understand what threat your opponents pose. The Netherlands have developed a lot in recent years. Ajax had their thrilling run in the Champions League and the Dutch have players who won the final, which proves the enormous ability they possess,” he said via UEFA.

“Portugal are always in the latter stages of big competitions. The pressure is always positive, but playing at home and being able to count on the support of our audience is a big motivation.

“We’re in the final so however worn out the players are physically, that is motivation enough. What matters most is the mental aspect. Players have to be mentally strong to get what we want. It’s going to be a tremendous game. We want to bring joy to the Portuguese.”

Ronald Koeman will lead the Dutch national team in their first international final since the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. The Netherlands’ boss says he feels pleasure rather than pressure ahead of the big occasion.

“If you go back to when we saw the draw for the tournament, we were in a group with France and Germany. No one expected Holland to win the group. Now we are in the final,” Koeman said via UEFA.

“It’s a pleasure to play in the final, and it’s not pressure. We know what we need to do. We beat France and we beat Germany and we beat England. It would be unbelievable if we also beat Portugal in the final at [their] home.”

“We have a plan, and Portugal will also have a plan. They are strong, and good at defending. And they are playing at home, which is also important for them. We need to be at our best to create and score goals. But it’s a final, and in a final everything is possible.”

Stats

Portugal will face the Dutch national team for the 15th time on Sunday night, having won seven games, compared to Holland’s two in their previous meetings.

The Netherlands recorded a 3-0 victory when the pair last met in an international friendly in March 2018, but Portugal ran out 2-1 winners in their last competitive meeting in the last-16 stage of Euro 2012.

Both sides will try to win their second international trophy at Estadio do Dragao, as they’ve both won the UEFA Euro – Portugal in 2016, while the Netherlands back in 1988.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 53rd career hat-trick against Switzerland on Wednesday night. He was the man who captained Portugal to UEFA Euro glory three years ago in France.

Dutch head coach Ronald Koeman also played an important role in Holland’s 1988 UEFA Euro triumph, netting the equalizer in the semi-finals against Germany.

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