December 3, 2018 / 2:52 PM / 9 days ago

Portugal take on Switzerland as England face Dutch test in Nations League climax

DUBLIN (Reuters) - European champions Portugal will take on Switzerland in the semi-finals of the inaugural UEFA Nations League tournament in June while World Cup semi-finalists England will meet a resurgent Netherlands following Monday’s draw in Dublin.

Hosts Portugal face the Swiss, the only one of the four sides never to have won a major trophy at senior level, at Porto’s Estadio do Dragao on June 5 with England playing the Dutch the following day in nearby Guimaraes.

The final of the mini-tournament will be on June 9 in Porto with a third-place match in Guimaraes earlier the same day.

Portugal, without forward Cristiano Ronaldo who has not been selected since the World Cup, qualified by winning Group A3 ahead of Italy and Poland while the Swiss topped Group A2 after coming from two goals down to beat Belgium 5-2 in the final game.

They previously met in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers with Portugal finishing top of the group on goal difference after the sides traded 2-0 wins.

“We know Switzerland very well and, even if we didn’t, we would just have to look at their record in the Nations League, where they were the highest scorers,” said Portugal coach Fernando Santos, who has been ambiguous over Ronaldo’s future.

“We are going there to win, we are ready to pull off an upset,” said Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovic.

England face the Netherlands in a competitive match for the first time since a thumping 4-1 win in the 1996 European Championships.

Gareth Southgate’s side needed a late goal from Harry Kane to beat World Cup finalists Croatia and claim top spot in Group A4 which also featured former world and European champions Spain.

The Netherlands, a rejuvenated side under new manager Ronald Koeman, topped a tough group featuring world champions France and Germany as they bounced back from their failure to qualify for the last European Championship and World Cup.

“All four teams are fairly evenly matched and bunched together in terms of our world rankings so everybody will feel they have a good chance,” said England manager Southgate.

“It’s a really good test for us and I know all of our players will be looking forward to the summer.

“I’ve been watching Holland closely since Ronald Koeman took over and they’re similar to us, in that they have a lot of exciting young players with good technical ability, high energy and a lot of pace.”

The event, created to replace friendly internationals that were unpopular with clubs, players and fans as they interrupted league action, largely got the thumbs up after the first batch of matches in September.

Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru and Brian Homewood; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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