UEFA Nations League – The Finals
On the weekend during the international matches, it shared a slight resemblance to the last day of the Premier League. There was drama, late goals and some devastating results for teams who you would have thought were bound to secure a place in the Semis.
The teams left in the Finals is the Netherlands, Switzerland, Portugal & England. Missing is the World Champions, France, Runners-up Croatia and Germany have endured another disappointing campaign as they finish with only 2 points. Leroy Sane made a claim that ‘Germany fans can see we have a plan.’ Well, it must be a very subtle one as this is their second tournament in a row where they have failed to pass the group stage.
Switzerland has been praised for their shock performance verse Belgium which fired them into the next stage of the tournament. Before the match, the points were level between them and their opponents and it was winner takes all. The Swiss overcame a two-goal deficit and won the match 5-2 in the Stade de Suisse Wankdorf. A fanatic comeback to say the least, however, the drama in Wembley was at another level.
In Group 4 (League A) the standings were tight going into the last fixture. England was on 4 points, Croatia 5 and Spain sat at the top with 6 points from two wins. It all depended on England v Croatia and just before the hour mark, Croatia took the lead through Hoffenheim striker, Kramaric. At this point, Croatia would advance and England would be relegated to League B. The next fourteen minutes for Southgate’s side proved crucial as they turned the result on its head. Jesse Lingard tapped in a trickling ball to equal the scores but it still wasn’t enough to win the group. Five minutes from the end, Skipper Kane got just enough on the ball to divert a cross into the Croatian goal. The three lions progress to the next stage and once again, ‘it’s coming home!’ echoed around Wembley.
Meanwhile, Portugal had a straightforward route to the finals. They still have to play their last game on the 20th of November but already have the points to qualify following their 0-0 draw against Italy. The final team to make it to the Semi-Finals is the Netherlands who had to contest in Group A alongside Germany & France. The Dutch failed to qualify for the World Cup in Russia which is why it has come as a surprise that they finished 1st in the group. Both Germany and the Netherlands finished with 7 points, although, it was the Dutch who had the advantage on goal difference.
On Monday night, Germany hosted Holland and was already two goals ahead twenty minutes in thanks to two great goals. Both sides applied pressure throughout the match and despite the early goals, it was an even game. Germany held out until the 85′ minute when Promes passed the ball into the back of Neuer’s net. The Dutch continued to swarm in their attack and Germany’s defence withered against the speed of the young Netherlands side. Exactly on the 90th minute, Van Dijk volleyed in an effort at goal which drew the scores level. This meant that Germany was relegated and the Netherlands booked their trip to Portugal for the next round. The Semi-Final draw will take place on December 3rd.