Published: Fri, September 07, 2018
Sport | By Patty Hardy

Nations League: The last crusade

Nations League: The last crusade

The debutant's standout save came from the resulting delivery when he produced a stunning reaction stop to keep out Matthias Ginter, who must have felt as though he had done enough to open his account for Germany with a firm header from a corner.

The UEFA Nations League gets underway on Thursday night in some style as the world champions, France, take on Germany in Munich.

What starts now is the group stage: the three (or four) teams from each group in each division will play each other.

The Final Four tournament will only be held in odd years, so as to avoid any clash or conflict on the football calendar especially with regards to the World Cup and European Championships.

Despite their contrasting fortunes in Russian Federation, both teams still have the same managers at the helm with Didier Deschamps and Joachim Loew leading France and Germany respectively.

League A - Contains the big guns.

In practice, what that will probably mean is the four group winners from League D playing off for one spot at the Euros, with a mess of teams from higher up.

Ireland's 1-0 win in Cardiff last October had ended Wales' World Cup dream, but Martin O'Neill's side were terrible this time.

The 55 teams will then be split into groups made of four or three teams. Essentially the minnows of the European game and Kazakhstan - which is certainly not in Europe, it's capital Astana is closer to Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia than it is to Moscow!

Only teams that have not qualified for the Euro 2020 tournament are eligible for this mini-tournament. It has been made to replace the huge amount of worldwide friendlies, and this is going to affect the Euro qualifying. A further 16 teams will then enter playoffs in March 2020 to claim the four remaining slots-those 16 to be determined by performance in the Nations League.

But whether the Nations League should be linked to Euro qualifying, and if so in what way, are quibbles for further down the line. It's similar to a repéchage in rowing - the best placed of those who failed to qualify will get a second bite at it. Each league is divided into four groups. With these kits, the squad will perform in UEFA Nations League; this is the new football tournament, where the competitors are the national teams - unlike the other prestigious UEFA competitions like Champions League or Europa League.

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