The first UEFA Nations League champion will be crowned on Sunday, but first we have to play the two semifinal games. Four nations, from Group A, converge in Portugal all looking to be the inaugural Nations League champion. Host nation Portugal, Switzerland, England and the Netherlands were the four group winner of League A and all have an even shot of lifting the trophy. Current FIFA rankings would have England as the favorite, as they are ranked #4, but Portugal (#7), Switzerland (#8) and Netherlands (#16) are right there on England’s tail.
The UEFA Nations League was created to have some more competitive fixtures during the international break and will have a direct impact on Euro 2020 qualifying. In March 2020, there will be play-offs for each of Leagues A, B, C and D where the group winner earns a spot in the semifinals. If one of the semifinalists is already one of the 20 qualified teams for the Euros then rankings will be used to give the play-off spot to another team in the specific league. This will determine the final four teams who qualify for the European Championship.
Here are my picks for the two UEFA Nations League semifinal games.
Portugal (-152) vs Switzerland (+500): Draw (+290 – taking place on Wednesday 6/5/2019
Portugal, the defending European champs, enter Wednesday on an eight game unbeaten run and have lost just twice in their 20 games overall. There have not been many goals scored lately, in games involving Portugal, as the Portuguese have not scored, or allowed, more than one goal in four straight games. They have also drawn all four of those games. Portugal have not lost in nine games at home, but, as has been the theme, have not scored that much. In their last six home games, Portugal have not scored, or allowed, more than one goal.
Switzerland, who advanced to the knockout stage of last year’s World Cup, enter Wednesday on a three match unbeaten run and are unbeaten in four of five. In their last 10 games, the total has gone over three goals four times.
I like Portugal to get the win on Wednesday.
Switzerland leads the all-time series 10-5-7. Portugal won the last meeting, 2-0, when the two teams met in 2018 World Cup qualifying group play.
England (+154) vs Netherlands (+200): Draw (+229) – taking place on Thursday 6/6/2019
England, who made the semifinals of last year’s World Cup, are unbeaten in their last seven games and have won six of those seven games, including five in a row. England have been on a scoring tear lately as the Three Lions have scored five goals in two straight games and have scored 3+ in four of five.
The Netherlands failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, but have seemed to turn things around by winning Group 1 on the UEFA Nations League. Netherlands beat France and Germany en route to having seven points and winning the group on goal differential. The Dutch are unbeaten in eight of their last 10 games, but have scored more than two goals just two times during that timeframe.
I like England to get the result on Thursday,
The all-time series sits at 6-9-6 with England winning their most recent meeting 1-0 during a friendly.
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