The Nations league comes to a finale after both these two progressed with 3-1 semi-final victories. Can Ronaldo produce another masterclass or will the young Dutch starlets shine through?
This could so easily have been any combination of teams in this final after lots of action in both of the Nations League semi-finals. Portugal struck in the first half through a glorious free kick from who else but Cristiano Ronaldo. Controversy ensued in the second half, Switzerland were denied a penalty original, however the ball stayed in play whilst the VAR check was completed. In that short space of time, the hosts raced forward on the counter attack and Bernardo Silva was upended in the box. The referee blew for a penalty but had to wait for the first decision to be reviewed, after a couple of minutes on his headset and further time checking the replay he went back to award the Switzerland penalty which was converted by Ricardo Rodriguez. Portugal huffed and puffed and it came down to the magic of Ronaldo as he fired in two superb late goals and completed his hat trick. No surprise to see him leading the way in the goal scorer markets, the evergreen talisman is at 2.1 to score anytime which I think is fantastic value. He faces a tougher defence this time but he’s shown time and time again he can still produce exceptional moments even though he’s getting older. Portugal head in to this game as narrow favourites at a price of 2.4 with Holland out at 2.88.
The Dutch come in to this game after a tough game with England. They profited from some calamitous individual errors from their opponents, The Three Lions were caught out twice as they looked to play out from the back. However it took a long time for Holland to get a real foothold in the game, they went behind to a Marcus Rashford penalty after a rare mistake from golden boy Mathijs De Ligt. He later made up for his error by powering home a superb header. Something that really stood out was how dangerous both centre backs were from set pieces. Van Dijk is at 12.0 to score anytime with De Ligt at 13.0, Portugal do lack some height in their team and could really struggle with the aerial threat from set plays.
Everyone has high hopes for Benfica’s Joao Felix, however the youngster failed to impress on his international debut. Often he went missing and we didn’t see much of the player that has been so impressive this season, as a result he may have to take a seat on the bench with Goncalo Guedes starting in a more central role alongside Ronaldo. Pepe is absent after picking up an injury that forced him off against The Swiss, he’ll be replaced by the experienced Jose Fonte. Bruno Fernandes was another who didn’t really show the quality that many expect from him, he may be rotated out in favour of Joao Moutinho or the returning Danilo Pereira of Porto.
Ronald Koeman will have to assess his players fitness ahead of the final. They played a day later than their opponents and had to endure an extra half an hour of game time against England. Donny Van De Beek may come in to the midfield to freshen it up and provide another option, he’d be most likely to replace Gini Wijnaldum who may also be feeling the affects of the Champions League final. Alternatively Van De Beek could replace Marten de Roon which would make them more fluid in midfield but remover their most defensive minded midfielder. Quincy Promes was impressive when he came on in the semi-final, he’ll be looking to start over Ryan Babel, who struggled to get any success against England.
This will be a very tight contest, but I think I’ve got to side with Portugal. They’re the hosts and they have that little bit of extra quality. Although Holland were good against England their side has some glaring weaknesses, Daley Blind had an incredible season at Ajax but at full back he can be easily caught out due to his lack of pace. Denzel Dumfries was reckless and rash against England, he was lucky to stay on the pitch given the number of fouls he committed, he was also very poor in possession. But the key difference between these two will be Ronaldo. Holland created a plethora of chances against England but time and time again Memphis Depay failed to convert them, there is no doubts about his ability but he lacks the consistency to lead the line at this level. Portugal or draw is priced at 1.36, with draw no bet at 1.65, these would be my best picks for the game.
Ronaldo to score anytime @ 2.1
Portugal draw no bet @ 1.65
Portugal to lift the trophy @ 1.75
Virgil Van Dijk to score anytime @ 12.0