The UEFA Nations League took an interesting turn following an action-packed week. We witnessed some enthralling fixtures with emphatic results as we return to club football. The four finalists of the Nations League have been decided, who will face each other next summer. There has been some reshuffling in the pecking order following the conclusion of the group stages. Plenty of promotions and relegations to talk about as we dive into the specifics of the 2022-23 UEFA Nations League. Let’s find out.
New champion incoming
With current champions France failing miserably in their title defence, it is certain that we will witness a new winner of the Nations League. The hosts the Netherlands have made it to the finals along with Spain, Croatia and Italy. Former champions Portugal were leading their group table and were scheduled to face Spain in their final group stage match. A draw would’ve secured a spot in the finals for the group leaders but a late winner by Alvaro Morata snatched Portugal’s hopes of a second Nations League Cup.
The fixtures for the semi-finals are yet to be drawn. However, it will be interesting to see these four teams battle out next year for the much-coveted trophy.
England, no more “Great” in Britain
England were amongst the poorest teams in the Nations League this season, finishing at the bottom of the table. The Three Lions failed to register a single win this time in the group stages. They have been relegated to League B as a result. Their neighbouring nation of Scotland, on the contrary, has been promoted to League A after an impressive season with four wins and 13 points. The Scottish are now seen as the better team emerging from the islands of Great Britain, with England no more at their top form and even Wales facing relegation.
Perhaps, Gareth Southgate has been given too much time with no results to show for it. The FIFA World Cup will be the final opportunity for the ex-England international to determine his future as England’s head coach.
Hungary succumb after an impressive group stage
Hungary were the group leaders heading into the international break. They had bested their group neighbours and were likely to make it to the Nations League finals after an emphatic start to their campaign. However, they lost their last group stage fixture against Italy, who leapfrogged them to grab the ticket to the finals. Interestingly, only Italy had managed to beat Hungary in the Nations League Group Stage. Both of the two defeats for Hungary came against the Italians.
Hungary had the perfect underdog story underlined for them and were well on course to reach the finals. Regardless, it was exciting to see smaller nations excel in the beautiful game.
Bigger nations not taking the Nations League seriously?
With the FIFA World Cup fast approaching, it is perhaps plausible that bigger nations like France, England and Portugal are not taking the Nations League seriously. Rather, they are focusing more on player fitness, who have to return to club football before heading to Qatar for the World Cup.
Former champions Germany experienced a massive scare when Marco Reus was stretched out of the pitch, fearing a serious injury. However, it was later revealed that it is a minor one and that Reus is not ruled out of the World Cup. Similar issues were faced by Portugal when Cristiano Ronaldo severed a bleeding nose during their match against the Czech Republic.
These are some reasons why these nations are not serious about the Nations League. However, it also has consequences in terms of a nation’s status within the UEFA rankings. With nations like England relegated to League B, one can only imagine the state of the fans of these nations.
When are the finals?
The semi-finals are scheduled for next summer, starting on 14th June 2023. The final will take place on 18th June, between the winners of the two semi-finals.
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