UEFA Nations League 2019 Final: Portugal vs. Netherlands Schedule and Preview

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistJune 6, 2019

GUIMARAES, PORTUGAL - JUNE 06: Matthijs de Ligt of Netherlands during the UEFA Nations League Semi-Final match between the Netherlands and England at Estadio D. Afonso Henriques on June 6, 2019 in Guimaraes, Portugal. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images)
Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

The Netherlands will face hosts Portugal in the final of the 2019 UEFA Nations League on Sunday after beating England 3-1 in Thursday's semi-final.

An own goal from Kyle Walker and Quincy Promes finding the net in extra time helped the Netherlands progress after Matthijs de Ligt headed an equaliser in response to Marcus Rashford's penalty for the Three Lions.

Portugal had already booked a place in the final after beating Switzerland 3-1 in the last four on Wednesday, thanks to a hat-trick from Cristiano Ronaldo. The Juventus star is in the right form to help his country win, but he won't find it easy to get past a formidable Netherlands defence.


Date: Sunday, June 9

Time: 7:45 p.m. BST/2:45 p.m. ET

TV Info: Sky Sports Football. ESPN2.

Live Stream: Sky Go. Univision NOW.


While there is typical flair in forward areas, this Netherlands team relies more on a firm foundation at the back. De Ligt and Liverpool linchpin Virgil van Dijk are an intimidating pairing at the heart of defence, with the former recovering from some early gaffes against England.

The Ajax skipper gave away a penalty when he brought down Rashford, then struggled to cope with the movement of Borussia Dortmund forward Jadon Sancho.

De Ligt eventually recovered his poise to deny England chances and pose a considerable threat from set-pieces. His 73rd-minute header was the most emphatic example of the way the Netherlands can bully teams in the air.

Sky Sports Statto @SkySportsStatto

⚽️ 🇳🇱 Matthijs De Ligt has scored 5 goals in his last 15 apps for club & country, which includes goals against Germany, Juventus, Tottenham & England https://t.co/CNWfMpVgKt

The equaliser was a just reward for the way the Netherlands bossed possession. Ronald Koeman's team let play flow through midfield, where De Ligt's Ajax teammate Frenkie de Jong excelled:

Scouted Football @ScoutedFtbl

Frenkie de Jong attempted and completed more passes than any other player in the first-half between the Netherlands and England. • 42 passes attempted • 40 passes completed Best midfielder on the pitch. https://t.co/xKknZzBiJd

De Jong and Liverpool's Georginio Wijnaldum ensure Koeman's men are rarely off the ball. Inspiration is added to the craft by Donny van de Beek.

The 22-year-old's timing and movement routinely give the Netherlands a man over in the final third. His energy and composure in front of goal can break down an experienced and well-drilled Portugal back four.

Defending Portugal demands keeping Ronaldo quiet. A hat-trick on his Nations League debut proved the 34-year-old is taking this tournament seriously.

Coral @Coral

☑️ 2004 Euros ☑️ 2006 World Cup ☑️ 2008 Euros ☑️ 2010 World Cup ☑️ 2012 Euros ☑️ 2014 World Cup ☑️ 2016 Euros ☑️ 2017 Confederations Cup ☑️ 2018 World Cup ☑️ 2019 Nations League Cristiano Ronaldo has now scored in 10 different international tournaments. https://t.co/pC0xBBxd6Y

Getting goals in threes has been a happy habit for Ronaldo when representing his country:

Squawka Football @Squawka

Cristiano Ronaldo has now scored 53 career hat-tricks for club & country. His seventh for Portugal sends them into the Nations League final. 🇵🇹 https://t.co/dnyau0UUcF

Reducing the lines of supply to Ronaldo presents two problems for the Netherlands. First, the prolific veteran doesn't need many chances to find the net, and he can convert from any type of supply.

The second problem is thwarting the many technicians Portugal can load the middle of the park with. Head coach Fernando Santos has skilled duo Bruno Fernandes and Bernardo Silva pulling the strings.

Silva was the star of the show against Switzerland, as the Manchester City playmaker dominated every phase of the game:

Statman Dave @StatmanDave

Bernardo Silva’s game by numbers vs. Switzerland: most attempted take-ons (8) most tackles won (5/5) most key passes (4) most take-ons (4) Grabbed an assist for his troubles, too. 🙌 https://t.co/Qsiihgk9we

Silva and Benfica star Joao Felix will move the ball quickly between the lines to feed Ronaldo's movement and the runs of Fernandes. Yet the Netherlands have the players at the back in De Ligt and Virgil van Dijk to blank Ronaldo and edge a close final.

Prediction: Portugal 1-2 Netherlands