Over the past four days, the UEFA Nations League A treated us to some wonderful goals and some surprising results. On the goal front, we have Norway’s lunging Erling Haaland heading in against Sweden. See also the coiled brilliance of France’s Kylian Mbappe sprinting thirty yards, besting his maker, and thundering home a left-footed strike that nearly popped the net off the Austrian goal.
On the results side, you have France already bowing out of the finals following their 0-1 loss to Croatia at the Stade de France. Geneva fans saw Switzerland holding on 89 minutes after a first-minute score to best Portugal 1-0. Germany has managed but three consecutive 1-1 draws against Italy, England, and Hungary. Wales drew even with Belgium in Cardiff, Brennan Johnson’s 86th-minute score closing out the match.
In a very awkward UEFA Nations League in which major powers were diminished on the pitch by determined opposition from minnows and where many stars needed time off from long domestic and continental seasons, the five-substitutes-per-match rule, seemed the only thing keeping some squads from collapsing.
After the next four games tomorrow, it will be late September before the Nations League returns to action. The final games will be played in 2023, a year from now, six months after that winter tourney in Qatar. Tomorrow will be your last chance to see competitive UEFA national team games before the World Cup so savor the likes of Italy-Germany, Wales-Netherlands, and Poland-Belgium.
FIFA has insisted that Brazil and Argentina make up their missed qualifiers match and have chosen September 22 as the date. Brazil, who will host, have yet to choose the venue. That may well be the last big game to watch before Qatar.
But on a day that saw Australia qualify over Peru on penalties in inter-confederation play, the International Football Association Board determined that five substitutes will be allowed in the 2022 World Cup and FIFA determined that rosters will now be comprised of 26 players, up from the previous 23.
Shutterstock Stock Photo ID: 2147707137—Vitalii Vitleo