PORTO, Portugal (AP) - The final of the new UEFA competition will feature another clash between Cristiano Ronaldo and Virgil van Dijk.
The first League of Nations ends Sunday in Porto with the victory of Portugal Ronaldo on the Netherlands Van Dijk. The Portuguese superstar and the flourishing Dutch defender have not met since the final of the Champions League last year, when the former team Ronaldo Real Madrid won in front of Liverpool (Van Dijk).
Ronaldo will try to lead Portugal to his first title since the 2016 European Championship, while Van Dijk will seek to help the Netherlands to win its first international trophy since the 1988 European Championship.
The victory at Estadio do Dragao will give the Netherlands some redemption after failing to qualify for the last two major tournaments, the 2018 World Cup and the 2016 European Championship.
"It's not a battle between two players, it's a battle between Portugal and the (Netherlands)," said Dutch coach Ronald Koeman, who was a player. to 1988 euros.
"We know that it is sometimes impossible to defend yourself against Cristiano Ronaldo. The best thing to do is to keep the ball and keep it properly, because when he has the ball, he can not do anything in attack. "
Van Dijk, touted as one of the best central defenders in the world, has Ronaldo "a fantastic player," but he has also downplayed the importance of his players.
"We play against Portugal, we do not play Cristiano Ronaldo," he said. "They have a very good team. It's going to be hard. We must be ready. "
Van Dijk, who allowed no one to dribble over 60 once in a row, won the Champions League trophy with Liverpool last week and was the final player against . Tottenham Madrid.
Van Dijk was also elected man of the match in the 3-1 victory of the Netherlands on England Thursday in the semifinal of the League of Nations.
Ronaldo was the man of the match for Portugal after their victory against Switzerland 3-1 Wednesday in the other semifinal. Ronaldo had a hat trick and two of his goals were scored in the final minutes.
Van Dijk should be in the running for the World Player of the Year for the first time. He has already been named player of the year in the English Premier League. Ronaldo has won the title of World Player of the Year five times.
"The Netherlands are an excellent team," said Ronaldo on the UEFA website. "They played very well. I have watched them in the last few games and they have an excellent team with great players - young players and more experienced players, which makes their team even stronger. "
On Sunday, hosts will be without veteran center-back Pepe, who broke his right shoulder against Switzerland.
Koeman should have all his players available even if the Netherlands had one day less to rest for the final.
The winner of Sunday will be crowned first champion of the competition created by UEFA to give the national teams more significant matches and reduce the number of friendlies.
The winner receives 10,5 million (11,8 million). The finalist will receive 9 million euros. The amounts include the 4,5 million euros that the four semi-finalists have already obtained.
The final marks the swan song of Alberto Undiano Mallenco, Spanish referee of 45 years.
England and Switzerland will play the match for third place at Guimaraes earlier. on Sunday.
This article appeared first (in English) on https://www.foxsports.com/soccer/story/ronaldo-and-van-dijk-face-off-in-nations-league-final-060819