England has managed to defeat Croatia 2:1 in the last round of Nations League group phase and ensured participation in the Finals come next June. With this defeat, Croatia has been relegated to League B next year.
Gareth Southgate’s squad has continued the series of great games started at the World Cup and at this pace, we will see more great things from them in the future.
The new UEFA competition, which will also serve as another chance for teams to qualify for Euro 2020 championship, despite many critics, has drawn an amazing crowd to Wembley. Cheerful fans enjoyed great football, with two sides competing at their best. Croatia took the lead with Kramaric’s goal in, but England retaliated first through Lingard and seven minutes later by Kane, sealing the match.
Harry Kane, who scored the winning goal, later said that “he’d never seen Wembley like this in an England shirt”, and many shared his sentiment.
England coming on top in a group with Spain and Croatia was a well-deserved accomplishment, especially after the heart-breaking loss to Croatia in the World Cup’s semi-finals. Victory over Spain is also an impressive achievement.
In Group One Germany has been relegated, to everyone’s delight. Poland and Iceland will also compete in League B next season. Newcomers to League A are Ukraine, Russia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Denmark.
So far, Nations League seems like a massive hit for UEFA. Instead of going through the motions in useless friendlies and waiting for qualifying matches to play real football, national squads now have a competition that actually means something. Watching third-string players abusing the ball during a friendly match that no one cares about has become a real drag, and didn’t accomplish anything, especially not what it was meant to.
UEFA has managed to showcase that international football can be fun even outside qualifiers and tournaments. While not on the level of World Cup games or even Euro games, national squads are playing competitive fixtures that tend to draw the best in them and that was all that was needed for the fans to embrace the new competition.
We rid format has been criticized at forts, but strangely enough, it has worked rather well, keeping players’ fatigue at a minimum and still providing a meaningful competition. Small groups seem ideal for this kind of league system, leaving enough time for players to dedicate to their clubs and still play meaningful games for their national squads.