Netherlands vs. England – prediction, team news, lineups
England take on the Netherlands in Guimaraes on Thursday evening with a place in the inaugural UEFA Nations League final on the line.
The Three Lions are seeking a first piece of major silverware since 1966, but they must first overcome Ronald Koeman’s resurgent Dutch side.
NetherlandsNetherlands’s Matthijs de Ligt celebrates scoring against Germany in their Euro 2020 qualifier on March 24, 2019
Having missed out on back-to-back tournaments, following up their disappointing Euro 2016 qualifying campaign with a poor showing in the World Cup 2018 qualifiers, the future is starting to look a lot brighter for Oranje.
A batch of impressive young talent has emerged at the same time and Koeman has put faith in the likes of Matthijs de Ligt, Frenkie de Jong and Donny van de Beek to guide the Netherlands to continental success.
The Dutch topped a group containing world champions France and bitter rivals Germany to reach the Nations League finals, and they are now just two wins away from lifting their first trophy in more than three decades.
Koeman’s side lost 2-1 to France in their opening League A Group 1 opener, before recovering with comprehensive home wins over Germany and Les Blues in the winter.
Then came a thrilling 2-2 draw with Joachim Low’s men in the reverse encounter in Gelsenkirchen six months ago as Quincy Promes and Virgil van Dijk struck in the final five minutes to cancel out the opposition’s two-goal first-half lead.
Germany were dominant for the opening 45 minutes and could have extended their advantage, but their failure to do so allowed the Netherlands to pounce and it is they, not the Germans, who are heading to Portugal this week.
Low’s side did exact some revenge in March, however, as they earned a late 3-2 win in Amsterdam after once again chucking away a two-goal lead. That came in a Euro 2020 qualifier, leaving the Dutch with a return of one win – against Belarus – and one defeat from two matches.
The Netherlands have not suffered consecutive competitive defeats since September 2015 under Danny Blind. However, they have won just one of their previous nine matches played in Portugal, beating Latvia 3-0 at Euro 2004.
Reaching the Euros was the main aim for Koeman when being placed in charge in February 2008. The former Everton boss is well on course to achieving that, though all focus right now is on winning the inaugural Nations League.
That, more than anything, would signal the return of the Dutch as a footballing superpower once again following four years in the doldrums.
Recent form in Nations League: LWWD
Recent form (all competitions): WDWDWL
EnglandEngland players celebrate Ross Barkley’s goal against Montenegro in their Euro 2020 qualifier on March 25, 2019
Gareth Southgate was keen to ensure that reaching the semi-finals of the World Cup last summer was not the peak of his England tenure. The Three Lions fell to a 2-1 loss to Croatia in Luzhniki and are aiming to avoid a repeat scenario in Portugal on Thursday.
England have been in superb form since a three-match losing run that started with defeat to Croatia, having won six and drawn one of their last seven matches.
One point from the first six on offer from games with Spain (H) and Croatia (A) left Southgate’s charges with a huge mountain to climb in their League A Group 4 campaign, but they recovered by picking up a memorable 3-2 victory in Seville and followed that up with a 2-1 home victory over Croatia.
Harry Kane struck five minutes from time at Wembley Stadium to complete the turnaround for England which, while not exactly making up for their loss to the same opponents in the World Cup semis, does at least give them another shot at winning a trophy.
England have since turned attention to qualifying for Euro 2020, which now seems a formality after reaching the Nations League Finals, and they have already cruised to wins over Czech Republic and Montenegro.
A combined 10 goals were scored across those two matches as Southgate’s side clicked into gear, giving them plenty of momentum – despite the two-month gap between games – heading into this showdown with Netherlands.
Not since March 2015 have England won more than six matches in a row, which they can achieve on Thursday, and you have you have to go back to May 1961 to find the last time they scored five-plus goals in three successive matches.
After the disappointment of throwing away a one-goal lead against Croatia in Russia, Southgate’s men are now a couple of matches away from glory.
It may not be the World Cup, or indeed the Euros, though going all the way in the Nations League would provide a perfect launchpad heading into those two tournaments.
Recent form in Nations League: LDWW
Recent form (all competitions): DWWWWW