Friday, April 19, 2019

My attitude to the Nations League has changed slightly

David Nugent in Editorial, General Soccer News 19 Nov 2018

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I have to say, that when the Nations League first started I thought it was one of those friendly tournaments that would be played for one year and then never seen again. I even wrote an editorial about the new competition, decrying it, stating it was another way for UEFA to make money from international football. However, I have to say that I am now warming to the new competition and my attitude has changed in recent weeks.

Games have been highly competitive

When the tournament was first announced, I thought it was just going to be games played out in the usual friendly manner, where no side really cares about the results and players are half-hearted about the matches.

However, it has been quite the opposite. I cannot say I have seen all the games in the Nations League, but England’s games have certainly been super competitive, especially their last group game on Sunday when the Three Lions won 2-1 at Wembley.

Neither set of players were holding back, while the crowd really bought into the game when England needed a winning goal in the last 15 minutes.

When captain Harry Kane scored the winning goal, Wembley erupted and it certainly was not the sort of reaction you would get from a goal scored in a friendly. Kane’s reaction at the end of the game was one of elation, which again you do not usually get from a friendly match.

Could now have legs

The Nations League so far has to be considered a success and one of the better ideas from UEFA in recent years. I hate the international break as much as anybody else, but if there are going to be international games I would at least like them to be interesting.

International friendly games leave me cold, to be honest. Many players pull out of international squads because of fictional injuries, while some players who do actually make the squads are just on autopilot and going through the motions.

At least if the games are competitive it is not as much of a wrench for us to endure a break from European club football. There is nothing worse than one of the players from your club picking up an injury in a worthless friendly game.

It won’t hurt you or your player any less if he picks up a knock in a Nations League game. However, I suppose at the least the game has some meaning to it and the injury is not in complete vain. Maybe I am just clutching at straws here!

England could win the Nations League

At the minute, there is a great positive atmosphere surrounding the current England squad, which has just continued from the World Cup. There is a feeling of excitement around the current set of players and not boredom like some of the previous squads.

England’s 2-1 victory over Croatia last time out means that the Three Lions will take part in next year’s semi-finals. Gareth Southgate’s team are currently odds of 9/4 to win the Nations League.

It may not be the World Cup or even the European Championships, but the Nations League gives the Three Lions the chance to win a tournament, any tournament. At this point, I don’t care what it is.

The Nations League has been a pleasant surprise simply for the competitive nature of the tournament so far. It seems that it is a tournament that will stick around. I hope that the semi-finals next summer in Portugal are just as competitive as the group stages.

Is the Nations League a good concept?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Nugent


David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The experienced writer has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.

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