NETHERLANDS and Croatia are set to clash in Rotterdam on Wednesday in the semi-finals of the UEFA Nations League, with both teams eyeing the silverware for different reasons.
The Dutch national team has been longing for a trophy since their triumph in Euro 88. Despite the mixed opinions surrounding the Nations League, it has undeniably become a popular addition to international football. This tournament could represent the last opportunity for Croatia’s Golden Generation, led by the likes of Luka Modric, to secure their first major title. They came close with a runners-up finish in the previous World Cup and a semi-final appearance before that.
Awaiting the winners of this semi-final showdown are the formidable teams of Spain and Italy. While the challenge won’t be an easy one, both Ronald Koeman and Zlatko Dalic have reasons to be optimistic ahead of this crucial encounter.
Since their elimination from the Euros in 2021, the Dutch have lost just one match in regulation time out of their last 22 fixtures. Their only defeat came in a penalty shootout against eventual champions Argentina in the previous World Cup. However, their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign started on a sour note with a resounding 4-0 loss to France. Moreover, they will have to cope without the services of Memphis Depay.
Croatia, on the other hand, have suffered only one defeat in their last 15 matches, which also came against Argentina during the Qatar World Cup. Their Euro 2024 qualifying journey began with a disappointing draw against Wales, but they bounced back with a victory against Turkey.
Bookmakers have given the Netherlands the advantage as the home team, with Coral installing them as 21/20 favorites. Croatia is considered the underdog at 3/1, while a draw stands at 12/5 with bet365. The Netherlands have a general 8/15 odds to qualify, while Croatia has 8/5 odds.
Interestingly, these nations have met on only two occasions in the past, with Croatia winning in the 1998 World Cup and the Netherlands securing a victory in a friendly match a decade later.
In terms of players to watch, Cody Gakpo, who recently completed a high-profile move from PSV Eindhoven to Liverpool, has netted seven goals and is likely to lead the line for the Dutch team. He carries odds of 12/5 to score anytime according to bet365.
Meanwhile, Luka Modric, the captain and star of Real Madrid, will earn his 165th cap for Croatia in this match. Despite being 37 years old, Modric remains a significant threat on the field. He is priced at 11/2 to score anytime with bet365.