With England ready to play in the inaugural UEFA Nations League finals in less than a week, it’s easy to get caught up in the hype and forget about all the other teams taking part in this inaugural competition.
The first game semi-final between Portugal and Switzerland kicks off on Wednesday the 5 June, before England face the Netherlands the following day.
Here’s a rundown of the some of the stars to keep an eye on out in Portugal…
Joao Felix – Portugal
Joao Felix has unquestionably been one of the biggest breakthrough stars of this season and at only 19 he has been tearing up the Primeira Liga for Benfica.
Contributing to 22 goals in 25 appearances this season, scoring 15 goals in total, Felix has done superbly in his first season in top-flight football. He also broke the record for the youngest player to score a hattrick in the Europa League, by smashing three past Eintracht Frankfurt.
Portugal have always had issues in finding striking partners for Cristiano Ronaldo, often costing them dearly. This youthful star could be the key to unlocking Portugal’s potential.
Pizzi – Portugal
Voted the Primeira Liga’s Player of the Season, Pizzi has also taken the league by storm this season, securing his fourth league title with Benfica in emphatic style. His selfless style of play contributes to his colossal assist tallies, as this season alone he amassed 19 assists this season, six assists more than Bruno Fernandes in second place. He also scored 13 goals to top off a truly monumental season.
Pizzi is already on the radar of many of football’s elite, and a successful campaign on home-soil could solidify his status as top footballing talent. His combination with players like Felix, Ronaldo and Bernardo Silva could prove deadly.
Joao Cancelo – Portugal
This marauding fullback has been pivotal to the successes of Juventus this season as he is capable of playing in most positions on the pitch, providing defensive solidity and creating attacking chances within the blink of an eye. Contributing to six goals this season from right back, Cancelo has proven himself to be a nightmare for most teams to come up against.
As well as their offensive frailties in recent years, Portugal have been plagued with a lacklustre and ageing defence that normally costs them dearly. Cancelo injects pace and youth into this promising squad and may end up being truly important to Portugal.
Haris Seferovic – Switzerland
Many critics are labelling him as a one-season wonder, but what a year he’s had.
The Benfica man has scored 23 goals in 29 appearances this season whilst tallying six assists in the league. He is also the joint second highest scorer in the UEFA Nations league so far, with a total of five goals scored in four games, and dependent on Switzerland’s form, he may claim the golden boot.
Switzerland scraped through the qualification stage, in no small part due to this man, they finished the qualifying rounds with nine points, tied with Belgium, but their superior goal difference catapulted them into the finals.
Kevin Mbabu – Switzerland
Mbabu’s meteoric rise through the ranks over the past few seasons shows him to be a player that should not be underestimated, the ex-Newcastle man has found some excellent form since signing for Young Boys in 2016, guiding them to their first league title in 32 years in 2016, and a subsequent title this year as well.
Mbabu has even ousted Switzerland captain Stephan Lichtsteiner to become their first-choice right back and will join Wolfsburg this summer to begin what can only be touted as the start of an incredibly promising career.
Fabian Schar – Switzerland
Fabian Schar has revolutionised a meagre Newcastle United’s defence this season, transforming them from a relegation battler to a mid-table contender. He has contributed to seven goals this season from centre-back, including a 30-yard wonder-strike against Burnley which earned him the goal of the month in February, he also claimed six man-of-the-match awards this season.
Schar has been the bargain of the season since signing for £3m from Deportivo La Coruña and shows the promise of this hopeful Switzerland side which could go all the way.
Steven Bergwijn – Netherlands
Bergwijn has risen through the ranks of the PSV youth academy to prove why he is one of the most promising young wingers in world football at the moment, he was a part of the spectacular PSV team that kept up with high-flying Ajax to grasp a second-placed finish in the Eredivisie and was awarded Eredivisie talent of the month twice this season.
With 14 goals and 12 assists to his name in the league this season, his lightning pace and incredible close control may prove lethal against a sluggish English defence.
Frenkie de Jong – Netherlands
The 22-year-old Barcelona-bound midfielder burst onto the world stage this season after defeating Real Madrid
He is widely regarded as one of the most exciting talents in recent years, and if England don’t deal with him properly he could single-handedly pick apart their side.