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Ronaldo to inspire Portuguese again? Get UEFA Nations League Final tips

Leigh Copson 8 Jun 2019
Cristiano Ronaldo (credit:Pedro Fiuza/Zuma Press/PA Images)

Portugal v Netherlands predictions for UEFA Nations League Final on Sunday, June 9. Will Cristiano Ronaldo inspire European champions Portugal to more silverware, or can the Netherlands continue their resurgence under Ronald Koeman by becoming the first ever winners of this international competition? Read on for all of our free betting tips and predictions for the UEFA Nations League Final.

READ MORE: Get our free Switzerland v England betting tips.

Portugal v Netherlands

Three years ago Portugal celebrated breaking their international tournament drought as they beat host nation France to win Euro 2016, but can they now avoid being on the receiving end of a final defeat on home soil when they take on a resurgent Netherlands side to determine the first ever winners of the UEFA Nations League?

Portugal made fairly straightforward work of their group campaign as they went unbeaten through four games to seal a place in the final four, but as routine as that run to the finals was, their semi-final outing proved to be a little trickier. Cristiano Ronaldo’s sensational first-half free-kick broke the deadlock only for Switzerland to level from the penalty spot following some VAR controversy, but the Juventus star ensured he would have the final say by scoring twice in the final couple of minutes to fire his national team to a 3-1 victory and a place in the final.

Afterwards coach Fernando Santos described Ronaldo as a “football genius” and few could argue after seeing the former Real Madrid and Manchester United star drag his team to victory. But can the 34-year-old inspire his team once again on Sunday and make up for the disappointment he suffered three years ago when he was forced off with injury during the early stages of the Euro 2016 Final win over the French?

Looking to deny him are a Netherlands team who have enjoyed quite the turnaround since Ronald Koeman took the reins. The Oranje experienced some dark years after Louis van Gaal quit as manager in the wake of the 2014 World Cup, missing both the 2016 European Championship and the 2018 World Cup. The Dutch FA went through several managers in an attempt to stop the rot and they seemingly got it right when they turned to ex-Everton and Southampton chief Koeman just over a year ago.

Home wins over Germany and world champions France as well as a draw in Germany meant they finished shock winners of their three-team UEFA Nations League group, and although they did recently lose a Euro 2020 qualifier against the Germans, the Dutch did come into the UEFA Nations League Finals on a high thanks to their overall good form and Ajax’s sensational run in last season’s Champions League. Dutch football is on a high right now and it is 90 minutes away from an even bigger high after they came from behind to beat England on Thursday night.

The Netherlands fell behind to a first-half penalty from Marcus Rashford, but they cranked up the pressure on the Three Lions after the break and were rewarded when Matthijs de Ligt made amends for an earlier mistake by powering home a header. They survived a scare when Jesse Lingard had a late ‘goal’ correctly ruled out for offside by VAR, and they made the most of that reprieve in extra-time by capitalising on a couple of defensive howlers from England to run out 3-1 winners. A huge mistake by John Stones gifted the Dutch the chance to take the lead and although Jordan Pickford was able to keep out Memphis Depay’s initial effort he could do nothing to prevent the follow-up from going in off Kyle Walker. Depay then pounced on another defensive error, this time from Ross Barkley, to tee up Quincy Promes to coolly slot home the winner.

The Netherlands had been well and truly gifted a place in the final, but can they now complete the mission by beating the European champions on their own soil on Sunday night? My answer to that question is ‘no’. While the Dutch did look good in the second half and in extra-time, it was still clear for all to see that there is a way to go before they are truly back at the top of the international game. Portugal did not have it all their own way against Switzerland, but the Swiss are one of the more underrated teams on the international scene and ultimately the Portuguese showed that they can get the job done even if it is not a vintage team performance.

And of course, you know full well that Ronaldo will be up for this one – not just because he was forced to watch on as they won the Euros three years ago, but because this is likely to be the only opportunity he ever has to lead his national team to glory on their own patch. That would be the icing on the cake for what has been a remarkable career for the 34-year-old and he should cause plenty of problems for a Dutch defence that showed some frailty and naivety against England. Therefore I am confident that backing Ronaldo to shine in a Portuguese win should lead to winning bets on the UEFA Nations League Final.

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Ronaldo to inspire Portuguese again? Get UEFA Nations League Final tips

Portugal v Netherlands predictions for UEFA Nations League Final on Sunday, June 9.

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