The Champions League final does not signal the end of the football season. It’s a matter of days until the Nations League semi-finals with Portugal and Switzerland facing off in the first match on Wednesday night.
Netherlands and England clash on Thursday, looking to book a place in the inaugural Nations League final on Sunday night. Here is our preview of the two matches…
Wednesday: Portugal vs Switzerland
Portugal are hosting the last four and are strong favourites at 33/100 to progress to the final. The reigning European champions are not strangers to the biggest of stages.
Portugal are not in the best form, however. Their last four matches have all ended in draws, and they have scored just twice in that span (drawing 1-1 with Poland and Serbia and playing out goalless matches with Italy and Ukraine).
Unbeaten since World Cup defeat to Uruguay, though, Portugal are 7/4 favourites to lift the Nations League. They beat Italy and Poland in their first two Nations League matches, and their defence remains resolute.
In Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal pose a constant threat, even if they struggle to create chances. Ronaldo is as short as 4/1 to score at least twice on Wednesday night, a price that will still attract some support considering his astonishing record in the biggest matches.
Switzerland’s form has been patchy. A stunning 5-2 win against Belgium to secure Nations League progression was a huge moment in their footballing history, but a home 3-3 draw with Denmark in their last outing was a disappointment.
Their squad does not have the star power of their hosts. Vladimir Petkovic still has plenty of talent at his disposal, however, led by now two-time Champions League winner Xherdan Shaqiri.
Shaqiri, as Premier League fans know well, is capable of magic, and can turn a game in a single moment. Without a doubt, he is the man to watch on this Switzerland side.
The visitors need a big performance from the Liverpool forward if they are to cause an upset in Porto this week. If you fancy a Swiss victory, a Shaqiri anytime wincast is a good bet at 19/2.
This will likely be a cagey affair. Portugal are blessed with attacking talent beyond Ronaldo, including teenage sensation Joao Felix, but Fernando Santos’ side are happy to keep it tight as we’ve seen in their recent matches.
Whichever combination of midfielders Santos opts for, Portugal should be able to control the middle third, and could limit Switzerland to counter-attack opportunities. Switzerland at 5/4 to fail to score.
The price on a Portugal victory is too short. A home win to nil is the way to go.
TIP: Portugal to win to nil (17/10)
PREDICTED SCORE: Portugal 2-0 Switzerland (13/2)
Thursday: Netherlands vs England
The Netherlands’ resurgence has been the story of international football since the end of the World Cup.
Having failed to qualify for the 2016 Euros and 2018 World Cup, the Netherlands were at a crossroads, needing to move on from the 2010s generation and embrace a new era.
Fuelled by the successful Ajax side, they have done just that with Ronald Koeman at the helm. Matthijs de Ligt, Donny van de Beek, Frenkie de Jong and Steven Bergwijn are all in the squad to face England in Estádio D. Afonso Henriques on Thursday night.
Taking advantage of a stuttering Germany, Koeman’s side progressed from a challenging group despite losing their opening match to France.
A 2-0 victory against Didier Deschamps’ world champions and a 3-0 win against Germany put the Netherlands in the box seat, and they booked their place in the last four with a 2-2 win in Gelsenkirchen on matchday four.
A 3-2 loss to Germany in Euros qualifying followed, however. The Netherlands are 27/25 to go through to the final.
England are playing great football at the moment. Like the Netherlands, they had to turn their Nations League campaign around after taking one point from their first two matches.
A thrilling win in Seville, and dramatic victory against Croatia saw Gareth Southgate’s side progress.
England’s last two matches have seen two victories and 10 goals scored, as Southgate continues to give youth a chance. Dortmund star Jadon Sancho has started his England career well and he’s expected to start on Thursday. Sancho is 19/5 to score anytime.
The return of Harry Kane will grab the headlines. Kane wasn’t at his best in the Champions League final on Saturday, but it would be a shock if Southgate left him out.
Meeting with Virgil van Dijk for the second time in a few days, Kane is in for a challenging evening. Considering his performance in Madrid at the weekend, his 6/4 to score anytime is a bit short.
As the betting markets suggest, there’s not much between these two sides. Over 2.5 goals at Evens is the best bet.
TIP: Over 2.5 goals (1/1)
PREDICTED SCORE: Netherlands 1-2 England (8/1)
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*