Guimaraes- It may not be counted as a major trophy, but both Portugal and Netherlands will be looking to win the Uefa Nations League final today to show their standing ahead of next year’s European Championships.
For defending European champions Portugal, Sunday represents the chance to show they are capable of going with the best Europe has to offer, after a disappointing round-of-16 exit at last year’s World Cup. It also gives A Seleção das Quinas another opportunity to win a trophy in front of their own fans, after falling in the Euro 2004 final to Greece – a defeat which shocked a nation ready to celebrate.
Meanwhile, a Netherlands win would cap an impressive turnaround under Ronald Koeman. When the Dutchman took charge last year, Netherlands were about to miss out on their second consecutive major tournament, and everyone expected the Oranje to be relegated from Nations League group A4 when the draw was officially made. But Koeman has done a fine job since taking the role, with six wins from 13 games including a previous victory over Portugal.
Ronaldo vs Van Dijk: Who will win?
It was a meeting many had hoped to see in the Champions League, but the Uefa Nations League final will pit two aerial giants up against each other.
Though he is capable of scoring any type of goal, as shown in Portugal’s win over Switzerland, one of Cristiano Ronaldo’s biggest strengths is his aerial ability.
The Portuguese forward has scored 24 headed goals in the Champions League across his career, more than any other player. In fact, four of his six goals in the competition this season came with his head – including two against Dutch side Ajax in the quarter-finals.
But on the other side on Sunday will be Virgil van Dijk, with the Dutch centre-back being dominant in the air for Liverpool this season. In the Premier League and Champions League combined, Van Dijk won 223 of his 305 aerial duels with a success rate of 73.11% and added another four in the Uefa Nations League semi-final against England.
Though both Ronaldo and Van Dijk are fine players with the ball on the ground, we’re hoping Sunday will bring a good aerial battle between the pair.
What does the winner get?
Although the teams to top their groups in the earlier stage of the Uefa Nations League have guaranteed a spot in the play-offs for Euro 2020, winning the competition as a whole brings no extra benefits for qualification to next year’s championship.
But either Portugal or Netherlands will lift the new Uefa Nations League trophy, as well as €10.5m in prize money. The runners-up will have to make do with €9m.
Predicted Netherlands XI (4-3-3): Cillessen; Dumfries, Van Dijk, De Ligt, Blind; Van de Beek, De Jong, De Roon; Bergwijn, Depay, Babel.
Predicted Portugal XI (4-2-2-2): Patricio; Semedo, Fonte, Dias, Guerreiro; Danilo, Carvalho; Bernardo, Fernandes; Felix, Ronaldo.
Head-to-head: Portugal have dominated the previous meetings, winning seven to Netherlands two – although the Oranje did emerge victorious from the most recent match – 3-0 in March 2018.
Portugal wins: 7 Draws: 5 Netherlands wins: 2.