Koeman’s new look Dutch team to open Nations League final four against Croatia

January 26 – Host nation the Netherlands will kick off the Nations League Final Four with a semi-final against Croatia following Wednesday’s draw.

The Dutch will face the World Cup bronze medalists in the first semi-final at De Kuip in Rotterdam on June 14 and a day later Spain will play European champions Italy in Enschede.

The Dutch will host the final four of the Nations League’s third edition. In 2019, Portugal claimed the maiden iteration of the tournament on home soil and then world champions France won the 2021 tournament hosted by Italy.

Newly re-appointed Dutch coach Ronaldo Koeman, who led the Dutch to the 2019 final, said he preferred the competitive nature and opportunity to win a trophy over extra qualification games. Louis Van Gaal’s successor has vowed to reconnect the national team with the Dutch DNA of football after his predecessor, who took the Oranje to the last eight in Qatar, was criticised for his style. Koeman said that his team will be “very motivated” to win the competition.

Croatia assistant coach Vedran Corluka pointed out that “maybe the schedule could be a little bit easier for the players” alluding to the ever-more congested match calendar and the difficulty of squeezing a competition like the Nations League in.

European governing body UEFA introduced the Nations League to replace unwanted friendlies matches that were considered by teams, players, fans, broadcasters and other stakeholders as increasingly pointless. To an extent the Nations League has revamped the international game on the continent, serving as a pathway to the European championship as well for some of the smaller nations who’d normally struggle in regular qualification.

On Wednesday, UEFA revealed an expanded format for the tournament from 2024.

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