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Nations League finals: A gripping four days of international football

Nations League finals 2022-23 hosts Netherlands, Croatia, Italy and Spain in contention, battling it out over two semi-finals and a final between 14-18 June.


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The biennial international tournament, contested by European nations, is in its third iteration, with the remaining four sides gathering in the Netherlands to decide the winner.

Four top in the mix in the Nations League

All four sides involved in the finals are currently in the top 10 of FIFA’s world rankings.

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However, the Netherlands lead the way in sixth place, followed by Croatia (seventh), Italy (eighth) and Spain (10th).

Let us not forget that only Croatia come into the event with no previous Nations League final experience.

The Dutch were runners-up in the inaugural tournament won by Portugal in 2019, while Spain beat Italy in the semis in 2021, but were defeated in the final by France.

2022-23 Nations League final fixtures

  • Netherlands v Croatia  14 June  Semi-final  at De Kuip
  • Spain v Italy 15 June   Semi-final  De Grolsch Veste
  • Loser 1st semi v loser 2nd semi  18 June Third-place play-off        De Grolsch Veste
  • Winner 1st semi v winner 2nd semi 18 June Final                                       De Kuip

Liverpool and Netherlands defender Virgil van Dijk said: “It can be difficult finding the energy at the end of the season but in our case, almost 10 of our squad have already experienced a Nations League final and want to win it.

“After losing the final against Portugal, we realised that we should have handled it better. It was the first edition, we didn’t really know how or what. Now the feeling is definitely there. We’d like to win the prize although Croatia is a tough team to beat.”

Croatia may be finals debutants, but they have form behind them in this season’s Nations League, having finished top of Group A1, in part thanks to a victory in France in June last year.

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The Croats also had a good World Cup in Qatar, knocking out Brazil’s route to the last four, where they were beaten by eventual winners Argentina, but victory over Morocco gave them third place.

The Netherlands are six-game unbeaten qualification campaign for the Nation League finals comprising part of a 20-game run without defeat under boss Louis van Gaal that was only ended in March this year by France.

Spain fared less well in the World Cup, suffering a surprise shootout defeat to Morocco in the last 16. Coach Luis Enrique left his role straight after, to be replaced by Luis de la Fuente.

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The former Under-21s coach has had an inconsistent start, beating Norway before a 2-0 defeat by Scotland in qualifying games for Euro 2024.

Reigning European champions Italy missed out on the World Cup entirely after losing to North Macedonia in the qualifying play-offs.

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Roberto Mancini’s side finished top of a competitive Nations League group that also included England, Germany and Hungary.

Astonishingly, they’ve been inconsistent since, losing two of their four games, including 2-1 at home to the Three Lions in Euro 2024 qualifying.


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