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The decisive stage of the newly-born European national team tournament arrived. Switzerland and the Netherlands will try to surprise the Portuguese and the British in the semifinals
Finally, the moment of truth: Portugal, England, the Netherlands, and Switzerland will demonstrate between Wednesday and next Sunday who is the champion of the first edition of the UEFA Nations League, in a 'Final Four' that will be hosted by the Portuguese in the stadiums Do Dragão de Oporto and Alfonso Henriques de Guimarães, after winning the venue due to the best proposal submitted to the European soccer's top organisation.
Leer en español: ¡Se viene el Final Four de la UEFA Nations League!
This happened because the other two members of Group C of the League A of the nascent national-teams event, in this case Italy and Poland, had also shown interest in hosting the final phase, explained UEFA. Therefore, the three were placed in the same lot so the winner of the group was to be the host of the Final Four, which leads to having certain advantages in relation to the other three rivals. The same media explains that the draw that dictated how these semifinals will be played took place at the beginning of last December in Dublin, Ireland.
The first semifinal will take place this Wednesday 5 in Porto, between the local and the surprise Switzerland, which left nothing in the ditch but Belgium. On the other hand, on Thursday 6, Holland and England will revive in the Alfonso Henriques Stadium, Guimarães, a European classic for the second semifinal. Afterward, on Sunday 9, matches will be played to decide the third place in Guimarães, and the grand final in Do Dragão. During the Final Four, goal-line technology will be used. The first champion of this tournament is awaiting a big trophy, 71 centimeters high, as well as a monetary prize of 10.5 million euros.
Who is the favorite?
Goal reviews the Portuguese team, the favorite to stay with this first edition together with the young and powerful England team. However, there is parity in general terms, as the Netherlands and Switzerland eliminated in the group stage a priori combined superiors such as Germany and France, on the one hand, and Belgium on the other.
Why is Portugal the favorite? For several reasons. The first is that this time it will have its star Cristiano Ronaldo, who did not participate in the group stage and who did not reinforce them since the 2018 World Cup. The second is the fact that it is the host, which not only guarantees it the support of its public but to have the possibility of not moving from Porto and having one day more to rest than its rival in case it beats the Swiss.
Other attraction of the Portuguese team is its young revelation Joao Felix, an offensive pearl that dazzled with Benfica and which already fight several teams in Europe. Other names to take into account are Joao Cancelo, Nelson Semedo, Bernardo Silva and Gonçalo Guedes.
England is another favorite
The British team has started to honor its name and its fame, and from 2017 to the end of this year, positive results were seen after many years of failure. FIFA U17 and U20 champions in 2017 and semifinalists of the last World Cup, as well as the consecration as stars youg and talented players as Jordan Pickford, Trent Alexander Arnold, Dele Alli, Jordan Henderson, Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Jesse Lingard, and Marcus Rashford.
The good performance of the English teams this year in the UEFA competitions somehow compromised the national team for this competition because many of its members joined late to the preparation. A total of 8, and 7 of them who played the Champions League final as Arnold, Joe Gomez, Henderson, Danny Rose, Alli, Eric Dier, and Kane, while 3 days before Ross Barkley was in the final of the Europa League with the champion Chelsea.
Holland is on the rise
The 'Mechanic orange' will seek its first title with a spectacular new group of players under the command of Ronald Koeman. The objective is very clear: to stay with the title and return to the next Euro 2020, a tournament that it missed in the edition of France 2016. This route, of course, is more expeditious than the long road of the qualifiers, in which they face Germany again.
Libero reports that the basis of this new version has two Ajax players as its main figures. Matthijs De Ligt (19) and Frenkie De Jong (22) stand out in the list and are fixed in the starting line-up. But, in addition, it has veteran high-quality players such as Daley Blind, Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum, as well as strikers Ryan Babel and Memphis Depay. Nor can it leave out captain Virgil Van Dijk, Liverpool's central defender, as well as midfielder Marten De Roon and defender Hans Hateboer. It is a proactive team, with good handling of the ball and especially with the defensive balance that it did not have in recent years.
Switzerland, the stone guest?
The Swiss are very well suited to being silent, but deadly when it is the moment act. It is a national team with few elite names, who have been playing good soccer for years and competing at the best level, but still, they are still underestimated. It is a homogeneous group that has been playing together for years and that in a day of inspiration can leave anyone badly stopped, as they demonstrated with Brazil in the World Cup (1-1) and more recently in this same competition, with Belgium, which was beaten 5-2. With the obligation of Portugal to be local, Switzerland will wait for the counter.
An article on the UEFA website reviews the most important players in this squad, namely goalkeeper Yann Sommer, defenders Ricardo Rodríguez and Fabian Schär, midfielders Xherdan Shaqiri and Granit Xhaka, and veteran striker Haris Seferović.
LatinAmerican Post | Onofre Zambrano
Translated from "¡Se viene el Final Four de la UEFA Nations League!"