Portugal 1-0 Netherlands: 5 Talking Points and Tactical Analysis | UEFA Nations League Final
Portugal got the better of Netherlands 1-0 in a pulsating encounter at the Estadio do Dragao to win the UEFA Nations League trophy. The slim margin of victory slightly flattered the visitors as the hosts were dominant all across the pitch.
The game started off with the Dutch controlling the early exchanges. However, as the match wore on, Portugal grew into the game with their attack in particular, causing the away side some grief.
The likes of Bruno Fernandes and Bernardo Silva scythed through the Dutch defence on occasions, but were unable to apply the finishing touches.
Though the first half wasn’t short on the entertainment quotient, it failed to produce a goal and both teams went in level at the break.
After the restart, the Oranje tried to impose themselves on the game with a period of sustained possession.
Yet, they were caught by the perfect sucker punch when Goncalo Guedes and Bernardo cut them open with a clever one-two on the hour mark. The former then struck a powerful shot which proved too hot to handle for Jasper Cillessen.
The visitors tried to unlock the Portuguese defence thereafter but were unable to do so.
Here is a look at the talking points from the game:
#5 Portugal suffocate Netherlands with their energy
Portugal started the match with a 4-3-3 system as Fernando Santos dropped Joao Felix in favour of Guedes.
In addition, Danilo Perreira and William Carvalho were fielded as the midfield pivots with Bruno Fernandes acting as the third and more attacking central midfielder.
Thus, the Portuguese, courtesy their team selection, had signalled that they intended to dominate the middle of the park physically and restrict Frenkie De Jong and Georginio Wijnaldum to bit-part roles.
Though the said tactic looked simple in theory, it was anything but that to execute. After all, they had seen the midfield duo dismantle England just a few nights ago.
However, Portugal boasted of the one quality the Three Lions lacked on the 6th of June: energy.
From the outset, the hosts’ midfielders harried the Dutch players and forced them to move backwards. Moreover, the Portuguese attackers also pressed superbly and consigned Cillessen to look for long balls.
With Netherlands not functioning with a target man, those up-field passes became easy fodder for the home side’s defence, who recycled the ball quickly and set in motion Portuguese attacks.
Thus, Santos’ men had reduced the visitors’ cutting edge considerably with a blend of intelligent and energetic pressing.
The current Dutch side comprises of numerous accomplished passers of the football and they are a nightmare to play against. Yet, there exists a formula to get under their skin and disrupt their play.
Though the extraordinary amount of energy Portugal displayed tonight might not be easy to replicate day in, day out, it certainly is a blueprint teams can follow, at least for the time being.