UEFA.com works better on other browsers
For the best possible experience, we recommend using Chrome, Firefox or Microsoft Edge.

Women's Nations League semi-final preview: Spain vs Netherlands, Germany vs France

The first UEFA Women's Nations League finals begin on Friday, with Spain hosting the Netherlands and Germany playing France.

Spain, the Netherlands, France and Germany topped their league stage groups to reach the inaugural finals
Spain, the Netherlands, France and Germany topped their league stage groups to reach the inaugural finals UEFA/AFP

The first UEFA Women's Nations League finals begin with the two last-four matches tonight, leading to the decisive games on Wednesday.

As well as crowning the first Nations League champions, the competition will also decide which two European teams join hosts France in this summer's Olympic women's football tournament. That will be the two finalists unless France beat Germany to reach the decider, in which case UEFA's last representative will be decided by the third-place match.

Due to a draw made at the time the semi-final ties were set, Spain and the Netherlands will be at home in either the final or third-place match. The kick-off times are set for 19:00 CET in Seville and 20:45 CET in Heerenveen, regardless of which match is the final.

Women's Nations League finals

Semi-finals (Friday 23 February)
Spain vs Netherlands (21:00 CET, La Cartuja de Sevilla, Seville)
France vs Germany (21:00 CET, OL Stadium, Décines)

Final & third-place match (Wednesday 28 February)
Spain / Netherlands vs France / Germany (La Cartuja de Sevilla, Seville / Abe Lenstra Stadium, Heerenveen)
Kick-off time in Seville 19:00 CET, kick-off time in Heerenveen 20:45 CET

Meet the finalists

Spain vs Netherlands

Less than a decade ago, it might have been a surprise to see these two teams matched in a major semi-final, but this is now a meeting of the FIFA Women's World Cup winners and the last-but-one European champions, with both aiming to add to their trophy cabinets.

Spain, long a dominant force at youth level (and recently in the club game thanks to Barcelona), clinched their first senior national-team title last year at the World Cup, but not before an epic quarter-final with the Netherlands. Mariona Caldentey converted an 81st-minute penalty for Spain and although Stefanie van der Gragt equalised in added time, Salma Paralluelo hit the winner on 111 minutes for the eventual champions.

Women's Nations League final four: Spain

With the World Cup freshly won, and under new coach Montse Tomé, Spain took charge of their Nations League group with last-gasp victories in Sweden and Italy, plus two comfortable defeats of Switzerland. They then lost at home to Italy on Matchday 5, but their finals spot was actually confirmed during the first half of that game when 1-0 up. A few days later, they turned a 3-1 deficit against Sweden into a 5-3 win, taking their tally to 23 goals – the best across all three leagues.

Alexia Putellas has been named in Tomé's squad following the record cap-holder's knee surgery in December, while her Barcelona colleague Vicky López, player of the tournament at last season's Women's Under-17 EURO (among a string of youth honours), gets her first call-up at 17. Victory would confirm an Olympic debut for Spain.

The Netherlands, after their World Cup heartbreak, seemed to be facing similar disappointment in this competition. On Matchday 5, they led England 2-0 at Wembley through a double by League A top scorer Lineth Beerensteyn and looked set to stamp their ticket to the finals, only to lose 3-2.

Women's Nations League final four: Netherlands

The deciding night of games turned into a goal-difference race as the Netherlands defeated Belgium and England won in Scotland, with first place being swapped even in added time. England appeared to have edged ahead, but Damaris Egurrola's last-gasp strike against the Red Flames sparked wild celebrations for the Oranje and despair for their successors as European champions.

Vivianne Miedema played just 32 minutes in the league phase as she worked her way back from serious injury, and she has also overcome a more recent knee problem to form part of the squad, though she missed Thursday training along with Arsenal club-mate Victoria Pelova, and coach Andries Jonker is still missing long-term absentee Jill Roord.

Key stat: Spain played 20 games in 2023, winning 17 and scoring 65 goals.

Montse Tomé, Spain coach: "The Netherlands have a direct game, trying to win the ball in the middle to hit Beerensteyn. They have a midfield with players who can play in different ways from what we have seen in the Nations League, even the three centre-backs are good on the ball. We have to maintain possession and from there wear down and compete against the Netherlands."

Andries Jonker, Netherlands coach: "It's painful [the World Cup quarter-final loss], it's been that way for a long time. But we are now forced to switch things up. You are playing in in the Spanish lion's den. The challenge is the maximum."

Nations League: Promotion-relegation matches

France vs Germany

France might not have to worry about Olympic qualification like their three rivals, but the pressure is certainly on Les Bleues, who for all their great promise in recent years are yet to reach a senior final. In fact, this is only their fourth semi-final, their most recent – at UEFA Women's EURO 2022 – yielding a 2-1 loss to their Friday visitors, Germany, who boast a superior head-to-head record.

Women's Nations League final four: France

Still, France have performed strongly in the year since Hervé Renard took over, reaching the World Cup quarter-finals (losing only on penalties to hosts Australia), and conceding just one goal and dropping a mere two points while topping their Nations League group.

The coach's namesake Wendie Renard may be missing due to injury, but the squad includes six other Lyon players (not to mention past OL talents such as Amandine Henry) who will be very familiar with the venue for the match. They can expect strong home support as well, with ticket sales passing 20,000 more than a week before the game.

Among the Lyon contingent is Delphine Cascarino, looking her old self down the wing on her return from a knee injury, though she is unlikely to start according to Renard as her full recovery is being managed in conjunction with her club. Marie-Antoinette Katoto's current form is also a boost, the Paris Saint-Germain forward having missed the entire 2022/23 campaign through injury.

Women's Nations League final four: Germany

Eight-time European champions and two-time World Cup winners Germany, meanwhile, are looking for their first major honour since Olympic gold in 2016 – plus a return to the Games after they missed out on a possible title defence last time. Horst Hrubesch remains in caretaker charge following the autumn departure of Martina Voss-Tecklenburg, who followed up a run to the EURO 2022 final with a shock World Cup group stage exit. Hrubesch oversaw a solid series of performances to finish above Denmark in the league phase.

Watch Bühl clinch Germany win against Denmark

Alex Popp, who scored both Germany goals in the EURO semi-final defeat of France, leads a squad featuring fit-again key duo Lena Oberdorf and Lea Schüller, as well as fresh call-up Vivien Endemann – in prolific form for Wolfsburg – and the returning Pia-Sophie Wolter, whose sole cap came in 2020. They also boast a Lyon player of their own in Sara Däbritz.

Key stat: In addition to their EURO 2022 semi-final victory, Germany beat France in the 2015 World Cup quarter-finals (on penalties), the 2011 World Cup group stage and the group stages at both EURO 2005 and 2009.

Watch Geyoro's France winner vs Portugal

Hervé Renard, France coach: "We have made a lot of progress, the World Cup developed us a lot. What happened before is part of history, but history is to be written in the fairly near future. We are solid, we build little by little but there is a trust that grows from camp to camp. There is no reason not to continue on our path. We have to think that we are capable of beating anyone."

Horst Hrubesch, interim Germany coach: "Three or four months ago no one would have thought we would be sitting here. We are of course looking forward to these games, especially to being in the last four with France. That's what you want. We belong there and I can say that we have prepared well."

Women's EURO 2022 semi-final: Germany 2-1 France
Women's European Qualifiers: How the leagues look

Selected for you