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Ronald Koeman faces Croatian test as Spain and Italy renew rivalry in Nations League

World Cup bronze medalists Croatia will face hosts the Netherlands in the Nations League semi-finals while Spain will play Italy in the other last-four tie

he four countries were winners of their respective League A groups last year and competed in the mini-tournament in mid-year to decide the 2022-23 title.

The Dutch are under new coach Ronald Koeman, who takes over the national team for the second time after the departure of Louis van Gaal following their World Cup quarter-final loss to eventual champions Argentina. The former Everton boss was unveiled as the new man in charge yesterday, where it was revealed that his contract keeps him in the job until the next World Cup in 2026.

Koeman was last in charge of the side from 2018 to 2020 before he became the manager at Barcelona. He will have time to impose his vision on the national team with their trip to France in the Euro 2024 qualifiers – where they are in Ireland’s group – being his first competitive game in charge.

Italy and Spain, meanwhile, will each be looking for redemption in this tournament following disappointing World Cup campaigns.

The Spanish left Qatar in the round of 16 in a penalty shootout against Morocco, resulting in the sacking of manager Luis Enrique. Luis de la Fuente has taken charge of the Spanish, who like Stephen Kenny was given a promotion after being the manager of the Spain under-21s. He will look to this tournament as a key barometer to see how much progress La Roja makes during his reign.

Italy did not qualify for the 2022 World Cup – the second tournament in a row they have missed – and the European Champions will look forward to a renewal of their rivalry with Spain, who they defeated in an entertaining encounter in Wembley during Euro 2020.

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