Sterling believes Nations League success could spur England onto greatness
PUBLISHED: 13:00 06 June 2019
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England to take on Netherlands in sem-finals on Thursday
Raheem Sterling will hope to help England triumph in the inaugural Nations League Finals in Portugal this week.
The Three Lions are taking part in the four-team tournament this week by virtue of finishing top of their Nations League group last autumn.
Joining England at this week's finals are hosts Portugal, Switzerland and the Netherlands, who Gareth Southgate's men face in the semi-finals on Thursday.
Having scooped a domestic treble with Manchester City this season, Sterling will now look to add to his trophy haul by helping England in their quest for success this week.
And the 24-year-old, whose next appearance for the Three Lions will be his 50th cap for his country, is certainly looking forward to the challenge that lies ahead in Portugal.
Speaking to UEFA.com ahead of the start of the tournament, Sterling said: "The finals? It's massive.
"That's something I'd love to do with England, with an England shirt on: to lift a trophy.
"We've got a massive opportunity here, but at the same time we know how difficult it will be.
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"Winning the Nations League would give the team a lot of confidence.
"If you can win this, then when you do come in positions in later tournaments, in the Euros and the World Cup, it does give you a positive side because you've been there already with your national team.
"Once the first trophy comes, it'll feel a bit easier and not as pressured to do it again."
England begin their Nations League campaign against a resurgent Netherlands side in Guimaraes on Thursday, with the Dutch led by the imposing Virgil van Dijk.
After some lean years, the Oranje appear to be coming again and Sterling has warned the Three Lions they face a tough task in the semi-finals.
"The Netherlands had a period where they rebuilt and they look really good as a team," he added.
"They've got some unbelievable players, attacking players, defenders, and all-round their team is solid, as we know from the last time we played them.
"They're a stronger team now, a better team, and it'll be a massive challenge for us, and it's one that we're up for.
"A lot of their players play in England as well, so we know exactly what they are capable of."
Should England progress past the Netherlands, they will take part in Sunday's final in Porto, while a defeat will see them remain in Guimaraes for a third-place play-off.
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