The European giants have secured a place in the final of the new continental showpiece.
Portugal and Netherlands have provided their fans with exciting football over the years and have emerged as one of the heavyweights of European football in recent times. The match-ups between these two nations have always been gripping and full of free-flowing football. Their style of play is similar in many aspects which makes any clash between these two nations an exciting prospect.
After winning their respective semi-final fixtures in the UEFA Nations League (Portugal 3-1 Switzerland and Netherlands 3-1 England) they are set to be at the loggerheads in the final, hoping to be the first ever winners of the inaugural competition. If history is any indicator, fans of both sides and the neutrals as well are in store for a piledriver of a contest.
Revisiting this rivalry reveal some iconic moments that only further increase the hype around the upcoming tie.
The Battle of Nuremberg
One just cannot begin to talk about the history of these two nations on the football field without mentioning the epic clash in the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, where Portugal and Netherlands met in the Round of 16, looking to capitalise on the tag of the underdogs of the tournament. However, the match became famous for all the wrong reasons as all sanity from both sets of players was disregarded.
In a match of countless bookings and suspensions, football was somewhere lost and the beautiful game took a back seat. While the game ended 1-0 in favour of the Portuguese thanks to Maniche scoring the decisive goal in the 23rd minute, the match is remembered for it’s record breaking 20 bookings in total, four red cards and 16 yellow cards to both the teams combined.
The Russian referee, Valentin Ivanov, dismissed two players on each side, Khalid Boulahrouz and Giovanni van Bronckhorst for the Netherlands & Costinha and Deco for Portugal respectively.
Later, in the aftermath of this game, the referee was criticised by Sepp Blatter, the then FIFA President, stating that the official should have booked himself for the disappointing performance, but had to later issue an apology for his comments. Portugal interestingly managed to win their following quarter-final game against England despite the suspensions.
Relive the FIFA 2006 World Cup match between Portugal and Netherlands also known as the “Battle of Nuremberg”
Head To Head
History favors the UEFA Euro 2016 champions who have been the better performers in the past between the two. Portugal and Netherlands have played 14 matches head to head, out of which Portugal have won seven times while the Oranje have only managed to win on two occasions with rest of the five matches ending in draws. Their 15th meeting will be in the final of the inaugural UEFA Nations League final.
Last five meetings
5. Portugal 2 – 1 Netherlands – UEFA European Championship 2004
The semi-final clash between the two sides resulted in a victory for the host nation of the Euro 2004. Thanks to goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Maniche, they eliminated the Dutch side and entered the final which they eventually lost to Greece.
4. Portugal 1 – 0 Netherlands – FIFA World Cup 2006
The infamous “Battle of Nuremberg” match was entertaining but for all the wrong reasons. A solitary goal from Maniche yet again was the difference on the day which otherwise saw 16 yellow cards and four red cards being dished out by the referee.
3. Portugal 2 – 1 Netherlands – UEFA European Championship 2012
The group stage meeting between the two saw Cristiano single-handedly outscore the Netherlands by scoring both goals for his team. The Netherlands went on to lose all three of their games including this, and finished on the bottom of their group while Portugal qualified into the knockout stages.
2. Portugal 1 – 1 Netherlands – International Friendly
Kevin Strootman gave the Netherlands an early lead in this friendly match-up but it was Ronaldo yet again who equalised in the 87th minute to end the game on even terms.
1. Portugal 0 – 3 Netherlands – International Friendly
The last meeting between the two saw the Netherlands decimate the Portuguese challenge in an international friendly contest. Goals from Memphis, Ryan Babel and Virgil Van Dijk separated the two sides. Portugal will have revenge on their minds after this loss.
Both nations have performed amicably in the Nations League, which has earned them a place in the ultimate fixture of the competition. Portugal are undefeated in their last nine matches, with their last defeat coming in the Round of 16 elimination from the 2018 FIFA World Cup at the hands of Uruguay. Their talismanic figure and captain, Cristiano Ronaldo, is in scintillating form, having scored a hattrick in the semi-final against Switzerland.
The Netherlands have had a patchy form recently. In their last 10 matches, Ronald Koeman‘s men have won five and lost two with other three ending in stalemates. However, there are players in their squad like Virgil Van Dijk who are at the top of their game.
What to expect
An open game with lots of attacking football on display. With the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Joao Felix on one side and players like Frenkie de Jong and Memphis on the other side, both teams are well stocked with attacking options. The Dutch pairing at the back consisting of Matthijs De Ligt and Virgil Van Dijk will be a tough nut to crack.
Estadio do Dragao will be the stage for the UEFA Nations League final between Portugal and Netherlands, to be played on Monday, 10 June 2019.