UEFA Nations League Final: Can Dutch Class of 2019 Contain Cristiano?
Portugal vs Netherlands
The scene is set for the inaugural UEFA Nations League final in the Estadio do Dragao in Porto.
European champions Portugal meet Ronald Koeman’s revived Holland side bidding for European football’s newest trophy.
It is this SBOBET pundit’s view that the winners should receive automatic qualification to Euro 2020 as reward.
However, the lack of that incentive should not detract from the final of a competition which has produced Nations League highlights galore since last autumn.
There were two exciting semi-finals.
One was littered with brilliance by arguably the world’s greatest player – in my view he certainly is.
The other was decided by crucial mistakes, although few could argue the better team progressed.
Dutch players applaud fans prior to the start of the UEFA Nations League match vs England
For Holland are seemingly a national football team on the up. One in which a style of football, that has been bred deep into the system since Rinus Michels and all that, is very much at the forefront of the class of 2019.
The former internationals Ronald de Boer and Pierre van Hooijdonk see a variety of factors behind the resurgence and agree the development of the squad has been the most important.
That and the emergence of several key players in the vibrant Ajax team who came within seconds of reaching the Champions League final - one which has really set pulses racing in the home of Johan Cruyff and ‘Total Football’.
Man for man, in many ways you would say Holland have the better players, both in terms of potential and current talent.
Yet Portugal have Cristiano Ronaldo.
In the semi-final success against the Swiss, the now 34 year-old was up front alongside the shining new star in the Portuguese firmament, Joao Felix.
He was making his international debut in this tournament after missing the qualifiers to reach this stage.
Yet, even at this age, even for his critics who jealousy described him as one of the most divisive sporting figures of his era, there can be no debate that, when the match is on the line, there is still nobody to touch him.
Competitor, genius, flawed human, but as a player for the big moment, has there really been anyone to touch him?
I don’t think so.
He could yet another title on Sunday to his already priceless collection.
When these countries clash, Portugal tend to win when it matters.
In fact, while history shows an overall record of seven Portuguese victories, four draws and two Dutch triumphs, Portugal have won in all bar one meeting in a major tournament.
Never mind last season’s friendly in which Holland won 3-0, courtesy of goals from Memphis Depay, Ryan Babel and Virgil van Dijk, or the 1-1 draw in 2013 when Kevin Strootman’s opener was cancelled out by Ronaldo.
Look back, instead, at previous meetings in the World Cup or European Championship.
For example, the Euro 2004 semi-finals when goals from a young Ronaldo and a Nuno Maniche beauty fired Portugal to a 2-1 success.
Or two years later in a match dubbed the ‘Battle of Nuremberg’ when Maniche was again the scorer as the Dutch were knocked out of the World Cup at the last 16.
The contest set a new record for the most red cards (four) in a World Cup finals match. It also equalled the record for yellow cards - 16 yellows were also shown in the game between Germany and Cameroon in Shizuoka in 2002.
Fast forward six years and Portugal were at it again – defeating the Dutch on the major stage.
This time a Ronaldo double sealed a 2-1 win after Rafael van der Vaart had put Holland in front.
Our Nations League betting odds have Portugal as the slight favourites.
They are priced 1X2 @ 2.48 with Holland @ 2.75 and the draw @ 3.20.
With Asian Handicap odds, Portugal -0.25 @ 2.09 will appeal to many, but Holland 0.00 @ 2.21 will also catch the eye.
When you look at the odds on an overall winner of the tournament, Portugal are 0.00 @ 1.77 and Holland 0.00 @ 2.17.
Goals are certainly never in short supply with these two and that is reflected with over 2.50 goals available @ 2.14, total goal 2-3 @ 1.81 and total goal 4-6 @ 3.85.
That there is little between the two nations, though, is reflected in the Double Chance odds.
Portugal or Draw is priced @ 1.40 and Holland or Draw @ 1.49.
A repeat of their friendly last year, Correct Score 0-3, is actually available @ 50.00.
I wouldn’t back it, mind.
|A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR () BETS ARE WORTH: |
| = €20 (Highly confident) || = €10 (CONFIDENT) || = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT) |
Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.
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This message was edited by SBOBET on 12-Jun-2019 at 12:13 PM