The Nations League finals get underway on Wednesday evening as Portugal take on Switzerland with England facing the Netherlands on Thursday evening and this is why we’re backing the Three Lions to lift the trophy.
1) They have the best squad in the semi-finals
Remarkably, the likes of Spain, France and Germany have failed to qualify for the final four of the Nations League. Even Belgium, who beat England in both the group stages and the Third Place play-off at last summer’s World Cup, crashed out after a capitulation at the hands of Switzerland leaving el Nati and Portugal facing off in the other semi-final for a chance to take on the winner of England vs The Netherlands.
Although de Oranje are still suffering from something of an identity crisis after their lack of qualification to both the 2018 World Cup and the 2016 European Championships before them, they have certainly improved under the stewardship of Ronald Koeman. However, this side is largely inexperienced with a handful of Ajax-bred youngsters looking like the future but players like Quincy Promes and Luuk de Jong are hardly likely to strike fear into the hearts of the England backline.
In the other semi-final, Switzerland have undoubtedly already upset the odds to get as far as the semi-final but their squad seems solid if unspectacular at best. Portugal meanwhile do possess the talismanic Cristiano Ronaldo and are improving themselves with a host of talented youngsters starting to come through, but Ronaldo aside we’re not sure they possess the same strength in depth that Gareth Southgate now boasts.
2) Their key players are still focused
Although Virgil van Dijk of the Netherlands and Switzerland’s Xherdan Shaqiri were still involved in the Champions League Final, no fewer than six of England’s players were involved in Madrid on Saturday evening, meaning they’ll have been in training for the last three weeks whilst the majority of players have taken time off before reporting for international duty.
Harry Kane and Dele Alli were among many players who didn’t really perform particularly well in that final, but you have to imagine that Liverpool’s winning captain Jordan Henderson, plus right-back and lifelong Reds fan Trent Alexander-Arnold will be on a real high after lifting the trophy in Spain over the weekend.
With most of the players involved in the tournament having not played for almost a month, the fact that these players have remained focused during this time could play a key part and the motivation should be there for England’s players to lift the first ever Nations LEague trophy.
3) They will have learnt from last summer’s heartbreak
England went the furthest out of all of these teams in last summer’s World Cup. The Netherlands never made it to the final, whilst Portugal struggled through a group including relative minnows Morocco and Iran before losing to Uruguay in the Round of 16 and Switzerland were beaten by Sweden in the same round.
For many football fans in the country, a run to the semi-final before Extra-Time defeat to Croatia was the greatest English performance at a major tournament that they have ever been fortunate enough to see and the feel-good factor following those performances in Russia continues to surround the national side as they continue to improve under Southgate.
Although winning the inaugural Nations League is hardly consolation for missing out on the World Cup last year, the hunger will certainly be there for these England players to add a medal to the cabinet and you can bet that a huge support in Portugal will be willing them onto that success too.
Get the latest UEFA Nations League Predictions, betting tips and MORE here. Meanwhile, you can back our Accumulator Tips for today’s fixtures here.