Netherlands v England
SKY SPORTS, 7.45PM
Trophy win would be in a league of its own
So have you cracked this Nations League lark? No, join the club. One thing to remember is winning the final on Sunday would not bring qualification for next year’s European Championship.
It just means a nice, big trophy — a first major one for England since 1966, although this is basically a tournament that replaced all those meaningless friendlies so it can hardly be considered up there with a World Cup or Euros success — something of which Gareth Southgate is acutely aware. But, get to Sunday’s final in Porto and the country will no doubt quickly get on board with the idea of the Nations League.
Harry has to be fit
With that chance to lift a title in mind, would you start Harry Kane tonight? Or any of the seven players who featured in last Saturday’s Champions League final? After a long, arduous season the toll began to show in Madrid and legs were gone. Minds may also be shot after that match. Kane certainly looked out of sorts — although a two-month injury lay-off, rather than fatigue, explained his muted showing.
A re-run of his match-up with Virgil van Dijk may be more appealing to the Dutchman, so England’s captain must be deemed 100 per cent fit, or else Southgate should start Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho as his front three.
This could be key prep for Euro 2020
There is no doubt winning a bit of silverware would be very useful for Southgate, especially after the Three Lions let slip a great opportunity to reach the World Cup final last summer.
But this sojourn to Portugal may be more handy in preparing England for Euro 2020 — as near as we will get in the foreseeable future to hosting a tournament. The country may still be in love with the team after the World Cup but a different kind of pressure will be on next year and a triumph here would give them practice at becoming winners.
Not that Liverpool trio Jordan Henderson, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez need any pointers after their Madrid glory.