The inaugural UEFA Nations League reaches the semi-final stage this month as the four League A winners go head-to-head in Portugal for the title of Nations League winners. Hosts, Portugal, have made it through to the final after a Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick helped seal a 3-1 win against Switzerland.
Portugal’s opponents in the UEFA Nations League final will be decided on Thursday evening as England and the Netherlands go head-to-head in Guimaraes in the second semi-final. In what promises to be a thrilling climax to the 2018/19 campaign, we at Compare Betting Sites will provide the best odds, betting tips and news throughout UEFA’s latest major international tournament.
England go into the game against the Dutch as slight favourites with the bookies but the outcome of this game is far from a foregone conclusion. The Netherlands are in the semi-final virtue of topping a group that also included European powerhouses, Germany and world champions, France.
The new-look Dutch side are still hurting from their failure to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup but come into the Nations League full of confidence. Ronald Koeman’s side includes four of the Ajax side that made it all the way to the Champions League semi-final including the much sought-after defender, Matthijs de Ligt, new Barcelona signing, Frenkie de Jong, as well as Donny van de Beek and Daley Blind.
There are plenty of familiar faces in the Netherlands squad with no fewer than six Premier League stars named in their 23-man squad. The side will be captained by Liverpool defender, Virgil van Dijk whilst his Reds teammate, Georginio Wijnaldum is joined in the squad by Nathan Ake (Bournemouth), Patrick van Aanholt (Crystal Palace), Davy Propper (Brighton) and Ryan Babel (Fulham).
There is growing speculation that England captain, Harry Kane, will be left on the bench on Thursday evening after a less-than-convincing Champions League final performance. The Spurs forward looked a yard off the pace in last weekend’s defeat to Liverpool, prompting suggestions that he was rushed back in time for the game. If Kane is named amongst the substitutes then England could be captained by Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling.
Sterling is set to win his 50th cap against the Netherlands and his own management company seemingly announced that he is set to be named as England captain in a press release earlier this week. Both Sterling and manager, Gareth Southgate, we quick to distance themselves from the reports.
Sterling explained, “I woke up this morning [Wednesday] fuming. The first thing I did after I came off the phone to my agent was see Gareth [Southgate] down the hallway, and I apologised to him for what had happened. I don't know where that's come from.”
Southgate added, “Harry Kane is our captain. If Harry doesn't play, I have a decision to make. At this moment in time, I'm not prepared to do that. If I confirmed anything about the team other than Raheem playing, I would be doing half of Ronald's [Koeman] job for him. If I tell you Harry Kane's playing, I'm giving Ronald half the team as well."
It remains to be seen whether Harry Kane will start for the Three Lions however, Raheem Sterling could provide excellent value in the first goal scorer markets. With six goals in his last four England appearances, Sterling is a man in form. You can back the Manchester City forward at 13/2 to score first with Unibet. Alternatively, Paddy Power are offering 7/2 on Sterling being named Man of the Match.
England ran out 1-0 winners the last time these two sides met in March 2018. But, this month marks 23 years since the two international heavyweights met in a competitive fixture. England fans, or Dutch fans for that matter, will need no reminding of the score when these sides met way back in June 1996. During the group stage of Euro ‘96, an England side inspired by the SAS (Alan Shearer and Teddy Sheringham), claimed an emphatic 4-1 win in front of a delirious Wembley crowd. Only the most optimistic of England fans would predict a repeat of that score line, especially against the formidable defensive pairing of van Dijk and de Ligt. However, at 66/1 with BetVictor, it could well be worth a few quid!
If the bookies’ odds are any indication, this could be an edgy, low-scoring affair. The best-priced score line is a 1-1 draw, commonly available at 5/1, followed closely by 1-0 to England (8/1 - Smarkets) and 0-0 (17/2 - MarathonBet). If we are set for a cagey affair then 888sport’s 9/10 on under 2.5 match goals could attrach plenty of support.
However, we at Compare Betting Sites are far more optimistic of seeing some goals fly in on Thursday evening. In-form England are currently on a run of five consecutive wins and are unbeaten in seven internationals. Southgate’s England have also bagged five goals in back-to-back games against Czech Republic (5-0) and Montenegro (5-1). It is 58 years since they scored five in three consecutive internationals.
Whilst the Dutch may have lost their most recent international, that defeat to Germany was by the odd goal in a five-goal thriller. With goals-aplenty in games involving both of these sides, we feel over 3.5 match goals at 31/10 with Betfair could offer excellent value.
England - 6/4 (InterBet)
Draw - 23/10 (BetVictor)
Netherlands - 21/10 (Betfred)
To Reach Final
England - 8/11 (InterBet)
Netherlands - 21/20 (Sportingbet)
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