Every game is interesting thanks to Nations League, says UEFA president
UEFA’s new Nations League competition has proved an instant success thanks to the apparently simple, but often forgotten, combination of an ingenious format and evenly-matched teams.
The Nations League have become a welcome alternative to lukewarm friendly internationals and one-sided European qualifying ties.
England showed us how to go from relegation to winning their group in eight minutes last week, a dramatic qualification for the Netherlands at the expense of France and the astonishing humbling of Belgium by Switzerland.
Lower down the ladder, the competition has produced historic first competitive wins for Gibraltar and Kosovo, putting the latter within two matches of an improbable place at European Championship in 2020.
It has been a far cry from the traditional World Cup and Euro qualifying tournaments where six-team groups feature mismatches such as Germany against San Marino and Spain against Liechtenstein.
“We always had complaints from the big football countries about playing against small countries, (instead of) among each other, and complaints from small ones that they never win,” said UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin. “Now, every game is interesting.”
“It’s great for the D league where a team can qualify for the Euro, something they could never do before,” said Ceferin.
Furtermore, he confessed that some big teams were disappointed because they had relegated.
REUTERS/Additional reporting by Simon Evans; writing by Brian Homewood, editing by Christian Radnedge