Portugal host Netherlands in the inaugural UEFA Nations League final, kicking off at 7:45pm local time in Porto, Portugal. Both sides have a European Championship trophy to their name, but will be bidding to earn their 2nd piece of silverware in their history.
Portugal progressed to the final of the UEFA Nations League following a dramatic win against Switzerland in mid-week. On one side of the coin, they’ll feel it was duly deserved following a soft VAR penalty decision went against them in the game to allow Switzerland to equalise, but on the other side, they were arguably outplayed for many parts of the game. Portugal are so much more than Cristiano Ronaldo, but there is no doubt that this side would have lost had it not been for him being amongst their ranks. A free kick in the first half, followed by two sublime finishes in the final moments of the game completed an incredible hat-trick for the captain.
Joao Felix was handed his debut, but he failed to get into the game, as the Swiss defence were always onto him, showing their experience and strength. Pepe went off injured in the 2nd half, and remains a doubt for the final, with Jose Fonte likely to replace him if needed. 15 years ago, Portugal hosted the first game of Euro 2004 in Porto and lost it, with Ronaldo giving away a penalty – such a huge contrast to what happened here on the opening day of the UEFA Nations League.
Netherlands completely deserve to be in the final having had to come back from a 1-0 deficit against England in the semi-finals. Youngster Matthijs de Ligt was at fault for the goal they conceded, but he made amends by scoring a fantastic header to draw level, and then continue to be completely faultless as the game wore on. In the 2nd half, the Dutch were able to capitalise on a few errors at the back from England, as Quincy Promes’ rebound deflected off Kyle Walker, before he scored again to seal the game from another mistake from the opposition. The Dutch can be proud of their performance, with Frenkie de Jong looking impressive, and as they controlled the game for many parts and managed 29 shots during the match.
Ronald Koeman will be ecstatic with his team, and will see no reason to change any of his first 11 players. The only concern for him is that his team played 120 minutes on Thursday night, and will have a day less rest than the Portuguese.
Head to Head
Netherlands have nightmares about meeting Portugal in competitive action, as they haven’t beaten them in a meaningful game since 1991. The sides have met 14 times in their history, with the Dutch only winning twice, and Portugal having won seven times. Portugal managed to knock Netherlands out in Euro 2004, World Cup 2006, and then again in the European Championships in 2012. Cristiano Ronaldo scored three goals in two of those matches as he looks to break their hearts once again. Netherlands did manage to win the most recent game between the sides last year, 3-0 in a friendly – their only win in Portugal.
Predictions and Betting Tips
Portugal are slight favourites at 7/5 to win, with Netherlands priced at 15/8. For the sides to draw which will see the game go into extra time, that is at 9/4. To bet outright, Portugal are at 8/11 to win the trophy, with Netherlands at 1/1 (EVENS). Just like the game on Thursday, I have a feeling it will go to extra time, and that is where the valuable odds are. I’d back Portugal to win on penalties at 11/1, with the game in 90 minutes ending in a 1-1 draw at 5/1. For a score cast, I’d back Memphis Depay of Netherlands to score first in a 1-1 draw at 25/1. If you prefer the ‘safer’ bet, you can back Cristiano Ronaldo to score first in a 1-1 draw at 17/1. We saw four goals in both games during the week, but I anticipate this game to be a low scoring one, so backing there to be less than 1.5 goals at 2/1 seems more than reasonable. Finally, despite me seeing this going to extra time, I would consider you backing some Cristiano Ronaldo specials, like him outscoring the opposition (7/2), or even scoring another hat-trick at 28/1. If anyone can, he can.[geot country="US,CA" ]
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