UEFA Nations League: 5 takeaways from the first round of games
When UEFA introduced the idea of the UEFA Nations League last year, it elicited groans and moans. The negative reactions were about the perceived increase in the number of games. However, one week in and the story is different.
As an answer to the eternal club versus country debate, the UEFA Nations League was created. Too many times, clubs had been reluctant to allow players go for pointless friendlies. This is a problem that the new competition has solved.
Surprisingly, all the involved teams have taken it very seriously. The format which sees equally-ranked teams playing each other has been its main selling point. There has been a competitive feel to all the matches although attendance by fans has not been the best.
The sight of smaller nations being tonked has been almost non-existent due to the format of the competition. It has been an eye-opener in many respects; here are 5 takeaways from the first week of action:
#5 Europe’s minnows aren’t half-bad
One of the more unseemly sights of football on the continent has been the thrashing of smaller European nations by the big teams. Whether for European Championship or World Cup qualification, these smaller nations have been on the end of high-margin defeats many times.
This problem does not exist in the UEFA Nations League. Due to the classification of teams based on things like history, current ranking, and the competition has an egalitarian feel to it.
Freed from the burden of playing the likes of Spain, Germany et al, Europe’s smaller teams have come alive. Occupying the League D ladder, these nations have embraced the competition wholeheartedly.
FYR Macedonia, Luxembourg and Georgia have all secured maximum points from the two games played so far. Europe’s youngest nation, Kosovo secured its first ever international win; a 2-0 home win over the Faroe Islands.
The standard of football has been reasonably good among these teams. The confidence they will gain from competing against their equals will stand them in good stead when the qualifiers for EURO 2020 kick off in 2019
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