I find that I learn a lot about the Beautiful Game just riding around California listening to Lyft drivers.
For instance, I didn’t know what a big deal Mohamed Salah had become – not just in soccer but culturally-speaking – until I heard so many service workers in San Diego speak excitedly about his chances in the 2018 World Cup.
“I think Mexico could surprise people against Ger…” I would begin.
“Salah. What do you think of Salah,” they would reply.
Not that the Mexico National Team isn’t popular here. I’m pretty sure my neighbors named their son “Chucky” after Chucky Lozano.
Another driver recently schooled me on Netherlands football. Quite frankly, under normal circumstances I would have begun any preview of the fast-upcoming UEFA Nations League semifinals with a review of Three Lions – I’m sure most of our readership is eager to know more about the English side as well. Nothing against the Dutch team, we would just bring them up 2nd and compare the 2 squads from there.
Big mistake, according to one Mr. Pablo. “Netherlands is good,” he told me. “Netherlands know how to play football. They play elite football. Football the correct way.”
I haven’t been ignoring Dutch UEFA bids in the slightest. Heck, I’ve even put a Mortal Kombat meme on Legit Gambling Sites in honor of Ajax, an Eredivisie club that most handicappers thought (at one point or another) was going to wind up in the Champions League final against Liverpool.
But I’ll admit to not thinking of Netherlands as an elite national squad. Not like Germany, or Spain, or France, or Brazil…and not like England.
Is my wide-angle view of these 2 football nations skewed by the media’s overwhelming coverage of English domestic leagues? We’ll find out for sure on June 6th in the England-Netherlands semifinal at Estádio D. Afonso Henriques.
But for Nations League gamblers in my readership, it would pay to figure it out sooner.
England vs Netherlands: Semifinal Odds Based on History on Headlines?
Any objective analysis of the Flying Dutchmen must begin and end with the Netherlands National Team being as successful at the World Cup as England could have ever hoped to be over the last 4 or 5 cycles. The Dutch finished 4th in 1998, went to the final in 2010, and finished in 3rd place in Brazil 5 years ago.
Prior to 2018’s roaring bid in Russia, England’s previous trip to the FIFA World Cup semifinals happened almost 3 full decades ago.
But as much as odds-makers may look at the overall shape of a program across time, they can’t ignore the recent headlines. Netherlands failed to make an appearance in Russia, missing the World Cup for a 2nd time in the young century. Meanwhile, a crop of Three Lions stars is lighting-up the Premiership…a domestic league which has never been more dominant on the world stage.
Harry Kane is the best attacker for the English, though, and he’s been ailing for a long time. Kane has been selected for the squad and will attempt to play, but no one can predict his certainty his effectiveness. The good news is that the Three Lions ranks have become so rich in premier (excuse the pun) talent, even World Cup hero Kieran Trippier has been left out of Gareth Southgate’s final 23.
Why, it’s just another example of Tottenham’s backline being underrated.
Let’s look at how the action is going on the June 6th match at a couple of well-known soccer betting websites.
Comparing Nations League Odds at Bovada and BetOnline
One bookmaker steps up…another bides its time.
BetOnline has cast the English as a (+136) favorite on the 3-way moneyline, next to the Dutch at (+190) and a Draw outcome at (+220) payoff. Of course there can be no draw in a semifinal, but if the match goes to penalties, speculators who predicted a deadlock will be in business more than 2-to-1.
The site’s Over/Under total is a meek (2 ½) with (-106) payoff on the Over. That’s putting a lot of confidence in Three Lions goalkeeper Jordan Pickford and Dutch keeper Jasper Cillessen, players who reputations in the game are all but impeccable.
In an interesting move, Bovada Sportsbook appears to be withholding its “Game Lines” for the UEFA Nations League match-up until more information can be obtained about Harry Kane. Certainly, Tottenham’s final with Liverpool in the Champions League will (or already has, depending on when you are reading this preview) tell us a great deal about the state of the striker’s health.
But Kane isn’t the entire English side, and as my Lyft driver would point out, the Dutch side will be on the field too. I’m not sure why Bovada isn’t going ahead with a market anyway, since the public’s choice is likely to be skewed toward a Premiership-heavy roster and a wealth of England supporters online.
All we have are the Bovada futures currently – lines that at least indicate what the bookmaker may choose to do with the Nations League moneyline for June 6th. Not only is England a (+200) semi-favorite next to Netherlands at (+300), but Portugal and Rocket Ronaldo (+175) are clearly expected to handle Switzerland (+600) making it clear that there’s no fancy “match-up” prediction slanting things. We can expect England’s moneyline at Bovada Sportsbook to be shorter than the Dutch line.
I’m impressed with the potential English starting 11 – especially thinking of back-4 combinations out of names like Stones, Walker, Maguire, and Alexander-Arnold. It’s the cream of the crop. But outside of Jordan Henderson, all of the potential difference-makers in midfield haven’t exactly made the crucial difference for their clubs in the Premier League chase in 2018-19.
The X-factor will be Marcus Rashford’s chemistry (or not) with Raheem Sterling on rushes, since you won’t hold and pass the ball around the box for very long against the Dutch. At the same rate, how can the Netherlands team ward-off an attack with so much more to offer than hobbled Harry?
Say what you will about lineup vs lineup. The Dutch side has been stellar in the Nations League, beating defending World Cup champions Team France 2-0 in late 2018.
But it was a win in October that may have really set the program alight. Awesome defender Virgil van Dijk scored in the 1st half against Germany on Matchday 3, and Netherlands commenced playing the kind of “good” football I’ve been hearing about, manning a standard 4-3-3 yet taking judicious fouls, giving up harmless corner kicks, and warding-off quality shot attempts against Cillessen. The result was a glorious dam-breaking in the final moments and a 3-0 clean sheet victory.
Do the Dutch have the numbers and stamina to defend England all day? Maybe not with cogs like youngster Denzel Dumfries on the back line. But even the 22-year-old Rotterdam native has shown few signs of tiring, scoring 4 times in 34 matches during the domestic season and helping to lead recent Dutch club champion PSV Eindhoven, a team known as the Peasants.
The Flying Dutchmen are closer to a crown than blue-blooded bookmakers think.
Nations League Semifinal: Underdog and O/U Pick
The fact is, while we don’t know if Netherlands matches up well all along the back line against England (van Dijk can only play one spot at a time, and so much is contingent on Harry Kane anyway) we do know that the Dutch are alive everywhere with the football, and able to whip-up chances and score goals even with a minimum of ball possession and set-pieces.
I’m liking BetOnline’s (+190) on Netherlands and even the (+220) Draw line at the sportsbook. But also, if I were the odds manager, I’d think about changing that (-106) payoff line on the Over (2 ½). The keepers slated for the June 6th match are terrific…but they’re stepping-up a level from the club season.