Another international semi-final, another wave of over-expectation, another dose of reality, and heartache for the Three Lions. Thursday’s dour 1-3 defeat to a clinical Netherlands in the Nations League semi-final side left the England faithful wondering: “When exactly is football coming home?” for the England men’s team.
Instead it will be Switzerland that Gareth Southgate’s side are up against on Sunday, competing for third place in Guimaraes’ Estádio D. Afonso Henriques – the same stadium England lost in, on Thursday. Meanwhile the real contest this weekend will be between European Champions Portugal, and Europe’s most exciting young side, Netherlands, in the inaugural UEFA Nations League Final.
Read on for previews of each game, including our football expert’s best bets to watch out for, in what promises to be an exciting end to the men’s 2018/19 football calendar.
Switzerland vs England (Sunday @ 2pm)
The Swiss will be eager to bounce back from their comprehensive defeat to Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick inspired Portugal. In the first-goal scorer market, Haris Seferovic (21/4) and Xherdan Shaqiri (6/1) will give England’s defence plenty to think about.
After an abysmal showing for Spurs in Madrid and another anonymous run out mid-week, it will be a surprise if Southgate picks Harry Kane over Marcus Rashford, who at 5/1 or indeed Callum Wilson at 5/1 to score first for England are far more attractive prospects.
With the above in mind, 9/2 is very tempting for both teams to score, and Switzerland to clinch third place.
Portugal v Netherlands (Sunday @ 7.45pm)
Wednesday night’s semi-final between Portugal and the Swiss was just two minutes away from extra-time. Until you-know-who took centre-stage and turned the game on its head to clinch his seventh international hat-trick and 88th goal for his country.
If you think Ronaldo is capable of leading his country to another international title (albeit against the most imposing centre-half pairing in Europe right now in Virgil van Dijk and Matthijs de Ligt) he’s 10/3 to open the scoring. And if you’re feeling really adventurous, CR7 is 30/1 to make it hat-trick number eight. Lastly, if João Félix is able to recover from Fabian Schar’s foul in the semi-final, 11/4 for him to score at any time is another one to watch out for.
With the wealth of talent on display in this match it looks impossible that both sides won’t score. But if Netherlands’ defence can impose themselves on Portugal’s attack, they’re 4/1 to win the game and keep a clean sheet. And if they’re to achieve this, both Memphis Depay 9/4 and Luuk de Jong 9/4 to score are the Dutch’s most likely outlets.
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