On Sunday night, Portugal and the Netherlands go head-to-head in Porto in the UEFA Nations League final. With little between the two teams, both will be looking to win the first ever final of the newly formed international competition.
How did they get to the final?
Portugal booked their place in the final of the competition with a 3-1 victory over Switzerland. Veteran superstar Cristiano Ronaldo showed that age has now taken away his sharpness, as the Juventus star scored a hat-trick.
The result means that the Selecao are undefeated in the Nations League, having recorded three wins and two draws in the new competition.
The Netherlands passage into the final was not quite as smooth, as Ronald Koeman’s side needed extra-time to beat England 3-1 in their semi-final.
The Oranje qualified for the semi-finals from a difficult group involving Germany and France. They lost their opening game against world champions France, but are since unbeaten in the competition, winning three times and drawing once.
Cristiano Ronaldo v Virgil van Dijk
Sunday’s games will pit two of the world’s best players against each other, as Ronaldo comes up against Liverpool and Netherlands centre-back Virgil van Dijk.
Even at 34 years of age, Ronaldo is still having a big impact on the international game. The veteran star missed all of the Nations League group games after boss Fernando Santos decided to omit the forward from his squad.
Ronaldo was key to guiding Portugal to become European champions in 2016. The former Real Madrid sustained an injury in the final but stood on the sidelines almost a cross between a cheerleader and a second boss.
He is no doubt the Selecao’s talisman and main player. His dual with Van Dijk could be the key to deciding the game.
Van Dijk has become a behemoth of a centre-back in recent seasons. His move to Liverpool has moved him up a level. He was good at both Celtic and Southampton, but at Liverpool, he is now world-class.
His performances were key in the Reds winning the Champions League and finishing as runners-up to Manchester City in the race for the Premier League title. The 27-year-old’s performances this season have been that impressive that there is talk of the Dutchman winning the Ballon d’Or, which would be a rare achievement for a defender.
With highly-rated Ajax youngster Matthijs de Ligt playing alongside him, the Dutch could form a formidable barrier for Ronaldo and Co. to overcome.
Portugal the slight favourites for victory
This clash could be a fascinating one. Portugal head into this encounter as slight favourites to win the Nations League. Ronaldo’s presence in the Selecao team is always going to make Portugal a dangerous team to any opposition.
The Netherlands defensive strength and the presence of highly-rated Barcelona-bound Frenkie de Jong means that Portugal cannot take the Oranje likely in this clash.
The Nations League has enjoyed a decent debut campaign and it seems to have been successful enough for the competition to stay as part of the international football schedule for the foreseeable future.
Who will win the UEFA Nations League final?