I like the Nations League. It doesn’t interfere with the fixtures calendar, using those that were previously reserved for friendlies. The group stage format was the first step in ranking national teams by category, with teams being promoted or relegated, a feature which really ought to be introduced to the qualifying rounds of the Euros and World Cup to free up dates and avoid games which don’t generate much interest. It is concluded with a quickfire final stage involving just four teams - just like the old European Championships format in its early years. And if Spain can qualify for the final four and make it to the final after beating the reigning European champions, then even better. And to cap it all, we will face the world champions in Sunday’s final.
France disappoint in the first half
France won the other semi-final, beating Belgium in a game packed with stars who are familiar to us for either playing in LaLiga, having played here, or hopefully are about to arrive - as is the case with Mbappé and Bob Martínez, who Madrid and Barça are hoping to land. The game got off to a sluggish start but soon perked up after Carrasco and Lukaku had put Belgium ahead just before half-time. At that point it looked like Belgium had booked their place in the final because up to that point, France, who were without Kanté, were uninspiring and gave the impression that their three-man frontline: Griezmann-Benzema-Mbappé didn’t really gel. Few would have bet on France turning it around at the break.
But Deschamps rallied his players, France piled forward and managed to turn the score into their favour. Benzema set them on their way with a magnificent finish on the turn, surrounded by four defenders and pulling a goal back out of nowhere. The equaliser came from penalty after Tielemans needlessly booted Griezmann from behind, just minute after the Atleti star had missed an open goal. The game was decided right on 90 minutes with a thunderous strike from Theo Hernández to finish off a breakaway move, moments after Lukaku had a goal chalked off by VAR for offside. It turned out to be a great game, let’s hope the final is just as entertaining.