After the insignificant matter of the Champions League final on Saturday, we now come to by far the biggest match of the season: the semi-final of UEFA’s Nations League. UEFA’s what? Oh yeah, the Nations League, the tournament nobody asked for and the likes of Jürgen Klopp are less than impressed by. And you can’t blame the Liverpool gaffer for being annoyed when several of his newly crowned European champions will soon be whisked off to international duty when they could probably do with a nice sit down.
Due to their exertions in Madrid, key players on both sides are likely to be missing here. Virgil van Dijk and Gini Wijnaldum may not be risked by Liverpool super fan Ronald Koeman, while Gareth Southgate may have to do without the talents of the likes of Harry Kane, just as Tottenham had to in the Champions League final.
Holland v England, Thursday, 19:45
The Dutch will obviously be affected more, as Paddy as has England as the 7/5 favourites here. The Three Lions may not be the most likely to win the whole tournament – Portugal have home advantage and are 13/8 to lift the trophy – but they are 7/5 to beat the Dutch in 90 minutes, and just 8/11 to get through somehow (as extra-time and penalties will be used if required).
England are in good form too. Having lost their opening match of the group stage against Spain, Southgate’s side have won six and drawn one of their seven matches since. But they haven’t had it all their way against the better sides they’ve faced, having come from behind to beat Croatia in the decisive match of the group, and nearly throwing away a three-goal lead against Spain.
Netherlands have won four, drawn two and lost two of their matches in 2018/19, so it’s very tough to call, it looks safe to side with the team with the slightly better recent record.
Best bet: England to qualify for the final at 8/11.
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The last meeting of these two sides ended in a narrow 1-0 win for England in March 2018. However, that has been the exception rather than the rule in their clashes over the years, and also in many of both teams’ recent matches. The three Netherlands vs England games prior to 2018 – which admittedly stretch back a decade – all saw at least three goals and both teams finding the net.
A repeat of the 3-2 thriller from 2012, in which England equalised in injury time having been 2-0 down in the 84th minute but still found time to lose, would make for an entertaining encounter.
Both sides paid out on over 2.5 goals in three of their four matches in the group stage, with England doing so in their last five matches in all competitions in a row. With Virgil van Dijk unlikely to have sobered up from Madrid yet, we could be in for a goal fest.
Best bet: Over 2.5 goals at 19/20.
Best bet: Both teams to score at 8/11.
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With the team news unclear, it’s hard to predict who is likely to get on the score sheet. Van Dijk and Wijnaldum may not seem like the most obvious goal scorer bets, but they did score twice each in the group stage, to account for half of Netherlands’ goal total. But even if they do miss out as seems likely, it’s Memphis Depay who leads the way in the market from a Dutch perspective.
It’s with good reason too, as he also scored twice in the group stage, and has netted in three of his country’s last four games. With a rumoured move to Liverpool on the cards, the former United man can keep his future teammates Gini and Virgil onside here.
Best bet: Memphis Depay to score anytime at 23/10.
Harry Kane is the shortest priced player to score, but he’s not even guaranteed to start. Though many thought that ahead of the Champions League final, and look how that turned out. Despite an indifferent season for United, Jesse Lingard has been in decent form for his country, having scored in his last two appearances and also netting the winner the last time these countries clashed too.
But after having gone three years without scoring for England, Raheem Sterling has roared back with six goals in his last four games. He got six in his last eight games for City too, so he’s the man most in form from Southgate’s perspective.
Best bet: Raheeem Sterling to score anytime at 11/5.
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