Portgual vs Netherlands result, Nations League final: Bernardo Silva ready to stand alongside Cristiano Ronaldo as talisman

Five things we learned as Portgual win the first Nations League

Jack Watson
Sunday 09 June 2019 19:06
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Portugal National team training before Nations league semi-final

Goncalo Guedes’ second-half goal was all Portugal needed to beat the Netherlands and win the inaugural Nations League tournament.

After beating Switzerland in the semi-final courtesy of a Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick, Portgual began slightly on the back foot but quickly played themselves into the game and were deserved winners.

With an hour on the clock, Manchester City’s Bernardo Silva picked out Guedes in space and he curled a powerful effort into the back of the net via Cillessen’s palm.

The Netherlands battled back but rarely troubled Rui Patricio’s goal in a match that was limited in quality so late in the football calendar.

Here’s five things we learned.

1. Portugal conquer Europe…again

Portugal’s first ever major European title has been quickly followed by a second, if you want to categorise the Nations League as ‘major’.

Winning the European Championship in 2016 has given Portugal a swagger about how they look at games and competitions that gives them a bigger reason to be feared by their opponents.

The latest achievement is also a large addition to Ronaldo’s claim at being one of the greatest players of all time. Two international trophies in the modern era to add to his impressive domestic haul is certainly something that sets him apart in the elite tier.

Portugal were deserved winners

2. Virgil Van Dijk ends season on a high

Has van Dijk played a bad game since joining Liverpool? Thinking about his recent performances, especially in big games, it’s hard to remember the Liverpool and Netherlands defender putting on a display that falls short of impressive.

While he was not on the winning side in the Nations League final, he ends the season on a high after another strong performance. He did well to keep Ronaldo quiet when the Portuguese star dared to come near him, on particularly robust challenge on him when van Dijk tracked him deep was a highlight for some.

Then there’s the case about whether he deserves to be the Ballon d’Or winner. Winning the Champions League and getting to the Nations League final with Netherlands has certainly helped his case as you feel achievement goes a long way to swaying votes. His consistently excellent performances has put him in the same conversation as Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, and you feel he’s done enough to be a real contender.

The Netherlands captain ends the season with his head held high

3. Bernardo Silva can be Portugal’s next star

Portugal’s reliance on Ronaldo being able to drag them through big games has been the bedrock of this side for as long as he’s been a part of it. When he plays well, so do they and vice versa.

After a successful season for Manchester City, Silva continues his incredible form into the Nations League final and was key to Portugal opening the scoring. He got himself forward and into a good attacking area before showing good awareness to notice that Guedes was in a better position then found him with a disguised pass.

At 34 Ronaldo is unlikely to be able to replicate his best international performances in the next European Championship or World Cup, although recent performances against Switzerland on Wednesday and against Spain in the World Cup could be enough to suggest there’s something still there. With that, Portugal need their next talisman and nobody fits the role better than Silva. His performances for Manchester City slightly went under the radar until the end of the season rolled around and everything he touched turned to gold.

Bernardo Silva can be the next Portgual star (Getty)

4. Nations League schedule needs addressing

It’s just a year and three months before we get to do this all over again and the next edition of the Nations League kicks off.

After a relatively successful first year, there are things that Uefa can be happy about and things they must alter. The lack of completely pointless international friendlies can stay in the past and the Nations League organisers can be happy with the way that the group games have gone.

However, the knockout round in Portugal has been very flat. This is, perhaps, due to it being played so far after the end of the season. Of course it has to follow the Champions League and Europa League final, but Uefa bosses may want to consider altering the schedule a touch to keep the latter games as interesting as the rest

5. England take part in Nations League final

Well, sort of. Rather oddly, chants of “Harry Maguire” could be heard around the Estadio Dragao and England fans singing “don’t take me home”.

England were beaten in extra-time by the Netherlands but won their third place play-off game against Switzerland on penalties.

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