What the f**k! Where’s this come from? The Nations League seems to have appeared on Planet Football like an alien spaceship suddenly arrived unannounced from a distant galaxy. In fact, the Nations League has been kicking around since 2011. It is supposed to be UEFA’s answer to how best to improve the standard of European football.
So, what’s the gig? How does it all work?
Take 55 European teams. Split them into mini-leagues, dependent on their UEFA country ranking. Now split each league into groups, consisting of either three or four nations. The winners of each of the four groups in League A will then compete for an overall winner. Meanwhile, promotion and relegation occurs for the winners and losers of the other groups, meaning that, in theory, a lowly nation currently ranked in League D could win the ultimate prize in a decade or so, if they gained successive promotions. Equally, a current superpower could find themselves stuck down in the doldrums of the national equivalent of the Vanarama National League, if they do not take the competition sufficiently seriously.
The initial draw for the competition has just taken place. England find themselves pitted against Spain and Croatia in League A Group 4. League A Group 1 already looks a rather tasty line-up, including Germany, France and the Netherlands.
The matches themselves are due to take place in the autumn, during times usually allocated for international friendlies. Indeed, there has been some talk that this may be the death of the international friendly. In all truth, how many would mourn its passing?
I am not yet convinced by the merits of the Nations League, but I am sure that there were similar naysayers when the European Championships were first introduced in 1960. See England crowned as inaugural champions on 9 June 2019 and I will be the first to say what a great tournament it is.
© Donnie Blake
Donnie Blake tends to be resistant to change but, when the time comes, he’ll be cheering on England regardless.
Inaugural tournament? What about inaugural book? Check out Donnie Blake’s first football-themed novel on Amazon.