The Netherlands beat Belgium 1-0 in Amsterdam thanks to a second-half header from Liverpool defender Virgil Van Dijk, while Croatia secured their place in next year’s semi-finals with a 3-1 victory away against Austria.
Louis van Gaal’s side were utterly dominant in the Nations League group stages, unbeaten and winning five of their six matches to finish six points clear of second-placed Belgium in Group A4.
Croatia, meanwhile, narrowly edged out Denmark in top spot in Group A1 as Luka Modric, Marko Livaja and Dejan Lovren sealed victory over Austria for the 2018 World Cup runners-up. for the Nations League semi-finals marks an impressive turnaround for Croatia, who sadly lost their opening group stage match at home to Austria.
The Danes will probably feel unlucky to beat France and still miss out on qualifying, finishing 12 points behind Croatia. Kasper Dolberg and Andreas Skov Olsen scored the goals that sealed a memorable victory against France, who avoided relegation thanks to the defeat by Austria.
The Blues finished third, one point ahead of Austria, but managed just one win from six and scored just six goals, the group’s worst attacking record.
Although the team have recently been hit with injuries, it has been a worrying period for France – also defending Nations League champions – as Deschamps begins to put the finishing touches on their World Cup squad.
This international window is the last time teams will play together before the start of the World Cup on November 20.
“We had plenty of chances, but we weren’t aggressive enough and made several technical errors,” Deschamps said, according to the Guardian. “We had a young team and they don’t have experience at a high level. Tonight was a reality check.
“I’m not worried about the World Cup because we will get most of our injured players back in time. However, we don’t think we are stronger than the rest and we know it will be a big fight.”
Portugal against Spain on Tuesday and Hungary against Italy on Monday will determine the last two places in the final.
The Nations League finals – the two semi-finals, the final and the third-place play-off – will take place from June 14-18, 2023, with Belgium, Poland, the Netherlands and Wales all declaring their interest in hosting.