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On Wednesday night, the Netherlands take on Croatia in the semi-finals of the Nations League’s League A. Both teams have had decent success in recent years with Croatia going all the way to the World Cup final in 2018 and the Netherlands finishing as runners-up in the inaugural Nations League back in 2019.
Despite having an ageing team, Croatia are still punching above their weight and manager, Zlatko Dalic recently committed himself to the job until 2026 meaning he will take charge of his nation at the next World Cup should they navigate through their qualifying group.
The Netherlands, on the other hand, are going through a period of transition after Louis van Gaal stepped down from the managerial post after the Winter World Cup. New boss, Ronald Koeman has only been in charge for two games so far but he has already overseen an embarrassing defeat at the hands of France which has put pressure on him instantly.
The winner of the tie on Wednesday night will progress through to the final where they will take on either Spain or Italy, who face off against each other on Thursday night in the other semi-final. The match is set to kick off at 19:45 UK time and viewers in the United Kingdom will be able to watch the action live on Viaplay Sports.
Netherlands team news: Nathan Ake joins up with the squad following Champions League win
The big news out of the Netherlands camp in the build-up to this one is that Nathan Ake has joined up with the squad after doubts about his availability. Ake started City’s Champions League final victory over Inter Milan last weekend and has been on a seemingly never-ending celebratory tour around Europe with the rest of his teammates ever since.
Man City’s Nathan Ake is applauded by the Netherlands squad as he arrives for international duty 👏🇳🇱pic.twitter.com/4Vfg9adYSz
— SPORTbible (@sportbible) June 13, 2023
However, after the club’s parade in Manchester City Centre on Monday night, Ake made his way to his home country to join up with the rest of the squad and is in contention to start the match. He isn’t the only player who played in the Champions League final to be available, either, with Inter Milan’s Denzel Dumfries fit and raring to go if selected by Koeman.
The availability of Ake is a huge boost to Koeman particularly with fellow defender, Matthijs de Ligt unavailable through injury. The Bayern Munich has been suffering with a calf problem for several weeks and has been left at home to recover for the summer. Joining him in the medical room is forward, Memphis Depay who is also out with a calf injury.
With Memphis watching on from home, Cody Gakpo is likely to be given the nod up front. The Liverpool striker, who has recently revealed his favourite position, was one of the breakthrough stars at the Qatar World Cup and will look to carry that momentum with him into this Nations League campaign.
Croatia team news: Livaja departs training camp after training ground incident
The build-up to this semi-final has been far from ideal for manager, Zlatko Dalic. For starters, he is without RB Leipzig centre back, Josko Gvardiol, who has been ruled out of competitive action until next season with a groin injury. The 21-year-old is one of the most sought-after young defenders in the game and his presence at the back will certainly be a miss.
On top of that, striker Marko Livaja sensationally quit Croatia’s training camp last week following abuse from his own supporters. In an open training session attended by many Croatian fans, Livaja was on the receiving end of aggressive slurs and subsequently told Dalic that he would be going home. With Livaja ruled out, Andrej Kramaric will lead the line for the Croats as they look to reach another major final.
Marko Livaja leaves Croatian national team after an incident when fans in Rijeka were insulting him. He says he will always be with the national team but the insults in Rijeka have disturbed him from being ready for Nations League finals pic.twitter.com/PovErTFgN4
— CroatianFootballNews (@CroatianNews) June 6, 2023
As ever, the experienced duo of Ivan Perisic and Luka Modric will start the game for Croatia. Perisic needs one more goal to overtake Mario Madzukic as the country’s second-highest goalscorer while Modric is in line for his 165th cap after pledging to continue playing for his country after their World Cup exit.
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