After winning the inaugural UEFA Nations League, Portugal head coach Fernando Santos has revealed that stopping Frenkie de Jong was a key tactic he used to defeat the Netherlands.
Portugal bagged a second trophy in three years after winning the Euro 2016 and followed that up by winning the Nations League, beating the Netherlands 1-0 courtesy of a Goncalo Guedes second-half strike. De Jong, who is set to depart Ajax for Barcelona has been a vital cog in the Dutch wheel and bossed the midfield in their semi-final win over England.
Speaking in a press conference after the win over the Netherlands, Santos revealed the tactic he used in the final, "De Jong plays normally on the left closer to Bruno Fernandes. [Marten] de Roon played closer to [William] Carvalho. We were aware of the qualities of these midfielders of the Dutch team and De Jong; a great creator with great potential.
"We knew that if we curtailed his freedom we would stand to gain. My players' instructions were to play the ball whenever they had it and to balance our defense by keeping an eye out to curtail the freedom De Jong and [Virgil] van Dijk would have."