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The second UEFA Nations League semi final against England and the Netherlands is a story of two nations who have come a long way in a short period of time.
England’s embarrassing performance at Euro 2016 and the subsequent appointment then sacking of Sam Allardyce in a matter of months left the Three Lions being at their lowest ebb for some time. Gareth Southgate rather reluctantly stepped into the breach but he has been able to turn England from no hopers into World Cup semi finalists and one of the most exciting teams in international football.
Ronald Koeman’s job as Netherlands manager is no less impressive. Holland didn’t even make it to Euro 2016 or the 2018 World Cup, a failure which prompted some Dutch football pundits to suggest that the country was only at the beginning of an extended slump. Koeman came into the job with relatively low expectations after the way things petered out for him at Everton but he added a badly lacking level of organisation to the Netherlands which allowed for the team to make the most of their combination of youth and experience.
Both teams proved their growing stature in the world game by topping their Nations League A groups to make it through to the inaugural finals in Portugal. Whoever wins their semi final in Guiameres will be well worth their place in the final but where does the betting value lie for this intriguing match?
England 31/20 (Unibet)
Netherlands 21/10 (Paddy Power)
Draw 11/5 (Sportingbet)
(Please note all odds correct at time of article publishing)
It’s always worth using a bit of caution when looking at England’s price to win any match with the UK bookmakers. Patriotic punting is a real thing and can suppress England’s price below where it should be. With that in mind, that fact that the prices are so close between the two teams in the Match Winner market should tell you just how well balanced this match is.
Southgate has said since taking over as England manager that his team need to continue to test themselves at the highest level if they are to fulfill their potential by winning trophies. Netherlands’ rapid improvement over the last year takes them very much into the category of the toughest tests in international football so England will need big performances from every player who takes to the pitch in Guimaraes.
That may be a little problematic if the Champions League final is anything to go by. Harry Kane and Dele Alli are both usually very reliable for club and country but neither man got into the match in Madrid. All manner of reasons have been given for their poor showing including mental fatigue, lack of fitness and the extended gap between the final and the end of the Premier League season. Whatever the reason, there’s a real chance more England players will find this one game too many at the end of a tiring campaign.
The same is true of the Netherlands which adds a real sense of unpredictability to what is already a match which could go either way. That raises the possibility that it will take longer than 90 minutes to decide the Nations League finalists so consider the odds of 11/5 that Sportingbet are quoting on the draw.
Draw 1-1 @ 5/1 (bet365)
England 1-0 @ 7/1 (888Sport)
England 2-1 @ 8/1 (William Hill)
Netherlands 1-0 @ 9/1 (888Sport)
Draw 0-0 @ 9/1 (bet365)
Netherlands 2-1 @ 21/2 (Sportingbet)
One of the Netherlands’ real strengths is their defensive unit. That’s really no surprise with a centre-back partnership of Virgil van Dijk and Matthijs de Ligt managed by Koeman, one of the greatest defenders in Dutch history. England may feel that they can exploit the wider areas with Daley Blind and Denzel Dumfries likely to start at full-back but scoring against this Dutch side will take a combination of quality and guile.
England will surely have to score to have any chance of progressing to the Nations League final though as the Netherlands’ attack will pose the Three Lions problems. Memphis Depay has found a home playing through the middle of an attacking three which can score goals out of nothing so if you’re having a bet on the Correct Score market, make sure to choose a selection which reflects both teams scoring such as 1-1 at 5/1 with bet365.
Harry Kane 7/2 (William Hill)
Callum Wilson 9/2 (Coral)
Memphis Depay 6/1 (Paddy Power)
Raheem Sterling 13/2 (Paddy Power)
Marcus Rashford 7/1 (Unibet)
Luuk De Jong 15/2 (Paddy Power)
Jadon Sancho 9/1 (888Sport)
Steven Bergwijn 17/2 (bet365)
The big decision for Gareth Southgate is whether or not to start Harry Kane. Mauricio Pochettino insisted that he had no regrets playing his star striker from the off against Liverpool but it was clear that Kane was nowhere near his best and there are a number of players waiting to take his place as England’s main striker.
Callum Wilson would dearly love the chance to show what he is capable of for England but it’s Marcus Rashford who is most likely to be given the chance to play through the middle if Kane is rested. Indeed, Rashford will likely start the match even if Kane does also which makes the Manchester United striker a tempting bet to score first at 7/1 with Unibet.
The draw at 11/5 with Sportingbet
Marcus Rashford to score first at 7/1 with Unibet