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UEFA Nations League: 5 top games to look forward to

Omene Osuya
Top 5 / Top 10
990   //    10 Oct 2018, 22:40 IST

The UEFA Nations League returns for an amazing second round of games
The UEFA Nations League returns for an amazing second round of games

The second round of matches for the UEFA Nations League goes down this week. If the first round of games is anything to go by, it promises to be spell-binding.

The highlight of the first round of games was undoubtedly Spain. After the disgraceful World Cup outing, Luis Enrique took over as manager. Nobody foresaw what followed. The Spaniards outclassed Russia 2018 semi-finalists England 2-1 at Wembley. They then thrashed World Cup finalists Croatia 6-1 to signal their seriousness under new management.

It was a case of same of the same for Germany. The pathetic title defence in Russia was followed by another poor display against World Cup winners France (a dire goalless draw). Italy is another team that struggled badly with 1 point from 2 games.

The second round of the UEFA Nations League promises to continue in the same vein. Here is a look at 5 of the top games from this round of matches:

#5 Russia versus Sweden (Group B2)

Russia is still riding the high from the World Cup
Russia is still riding the high from the World Cup

The Russians are still riding the high from the successful outing at the World Cup they hosted. Fuelled by patriotism and a never-say-die attitude, Stanislav Cherchesov’s men surprised even themselves by getting to the quarterfinals.

Fellow World Cup quarterfinalists Sweden have been brought back down to earth after their World Cup exploits. In the opening UEFA Nations League tie against Turkey at home in Stockholm, the Blagult threw away a two-goal lead and lost 3-2.

The Russians had beaten the Turks 2-1 in Istanbul in their opening group encounter and currently lead the group. It promises to be an amazing encounter at the majestic Luzhniki Stadium.

With longtime goalie Igor Akinfeev announcing his retirement, workhorse and striker Artem Dyzuba has taken over the captain’s mantle. With the creativity of Aleksander Golovin, the tireless Manuel Fernandes and the lethal left foot of Dennis Cheryshev, the Sbornaya are well placed to get all three points.

Sweden is a limited but committed side. Manager Janne Andersson will be urging his side on knowing how crucial the three points are. Strikers Isaac Kiese Thelin and John Guidetti will be tasked with getting the goals while AS Roma goalie Rob Olsen will be marshalling the defence. At this stage, it is difficult to look past a Russian victory.

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