England will play the Netherlands in the inaugural UEFA Nations League finals next summer. The winners of the game will face either Switzerland or Portugal, who face off in the other semi-final.
England draw Netherlands in UEFA Nations League Semi-Final
How Good Are the Dutch?
The Dutch have responded brilliantly having not qualified for the World Cup. They beat Germany in the group stage of this competition and also got results against France in the ‘group of death’.
Beating the Germans 3-0 in their opening game showed that they are clearly an exciting team that shouldn’t be underestimated under ex-Everton boss Ronald Koeman. Before Virgil van Dijk‘s last-minute equaliser in their second fixture against Germany sent them through, they also picked up a draw in Brussels against Belgium in a friendly.
Van Dijk captains the Oranje and is their key player. The Liverpool man is the rock in a team that has undergone a huge transition in the last two years. Following the international retirement of Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie, the Dutch have a new found talent, a familiar name to Manchester United fans.
Depay spent one season at Old Trafford. Underwhelming. Playboy. Not cut out for the pace and power of the league. Depay is now taking the French league by storm. He will be the one to watch from this Dutch team.
He has matured and come on leaps and bounds from the raw talent that played for Ajax in the Eredivisie. His pace and good feet are being put to good use through the middle, no longer out wide. He does not run at players aimlessly and use trickery for no reason anymore. Depay is well on his way to fulfilling the potential that fellow Dutchman Louis Van Gaal saw in him when paying for his transfer.
England need to be careful.
Can They Win It?
England will go into the tournament fancying their chances at becoming the first team to win the competition. Both manager Gareth Southgate and Leicester and England full-back Ben Chilwell have spoken highly of the competition. Southgate said it was exciting that England are in the final four of a major international tournament while Chilwell stated he believed England could win the tournament no matter who they faced.
Who can we expect to see for England?
While wholesale changes are unexpected for the last squad, there will be alterations. It is after all, at the end of the season. There will be knocks and injuries to players who have been playing all season.
However, England and Southgate now have an even better chance to experiment with formations and players.
Jadon Sancho and James Maddison both have a large opportunity to go to Portugal to play in the finals. Their performances for their clubs have been massively impressing and are the players that Southgate wants to integrate the most.
However, Mason Mount is also in with a shout of travelling with the team if he continues his early season form.
Also hoping to cement his place in the squad will be Bournemouth striker Callum Wilson. He grabbed his first goal for the Three Lions against Spain and will most likely be granted more minutes for the finals.
Southgate may also choose to switch between formations. 3-4-3, 4-4-2 and 4-2-3-1 have all been used recently but he will be looking to firmly pick a go-to system. They have the personnel to adapt to matches and longer tournaments as they go on, but the Nations League will be a good test of England’s current abilities to play against some stronger opposition.