When Uefa first began seriously discussing the prospect of a brand new international competition, back in 2011, their intentions were honourable enough. The lustre of national team football had faded steadily over the previous decade, largely due to the club game’s suffocating spread but also to the contemporary nature of the beast.
Friendly matches, seen by managers as valuable testing grounds but by the Jussi Jokinen Youth jersey public and – in some cases – players as halfhearted trudges, had become little more than ballast in the calendar; qualifying for major tournaments had, for the leading lights, generally become a procession. If the latter owed partly to the geopolitical changes within Europe since 1989 and a slew of successor states whose football infrastructure lagged behind the rest, it merely emphasised that a little agility was long overdue.
The fruits of that shapeshifting will be displayed on Wednesday when, in front of a suitably curious assembly in Lausanne, the inaugural Uefa Nations League draw takes place. It has, to a large extent, flown under the radar so far but from September onwards it will be stitched into the sport’s fabric and replace the majority of friendly games. Uefa’s four-tier brainchild will rattle through six international dates by the end of November, completing a group stage that funnels into a four-team finals competition the following June.
So far, so uncomplicated. There is, certainly for those who still hold international football in high esteem, an innate pleasure in the idea of countries competing in league form, effectively working their way up or down from Leagues A to D in a relatable format. A summer mini-tournament between, say, Germany, Belgium, France and Spain to decide the overall champion has appeal; there is also an element of interest in seeing just where the dust settles for aspirational smaller countries, who will play competitive matches against teams of similar weight. For Kosovo, Moldova, Kazakhstan and Liechtenstein it offers scope to hone a winning mentality where none previously existed.
Yet, even allowing for the fact that any tournament looks infinitely more appealing when there are fixtures to discuss, the lack of buzz has been glaring. If Uefa were looking to create a crowdpleaser, an event that had the dual benefits of helping football development while catching the wider imagination, the fear is that things have moved on at such a rate – even in the last seven years – that the Nations League resembles a dead weight. The clubs’ hold over most casual fans is almost total, in large part due to the unstinting efforts of news outlets, financial backers and social media accounts to make it so. Anything new needs to grab the modern attention span: while other sports – cricket an obvious example – tinker with tweaked formats to do exactly that, the convoluted nature of Uefa’s offering looks decidedly out of step.
A competition that will initially be contested across 16 groups – four in most http://www.texansofficialauthentic.com/TEXANS-GREG-MANCZ-JERSEY leagues, their sizes flitting between four and a patently unfair set of threes – already seems plenty to stay across but the most disappointing element reveals itself at the very end. In March 2020, nine months after the first Womens Tedric Thompson Jersey Nations League has finished, the top four ranked teams in each league that have not already qualified for that summer’s European Championship – via that tournament’s own qualifying series – will be offered http://www.officialsramsprostore.com/Josh_Reynolds_Jersey_Cheap another bite of the cherry. They will enter a play-off round between themselves, with one spot guaranteed for each league.
This means that, unless Latvia are the eventual beneficiaries from League D, there will be at least one debutant at Euro 2020. But the concept could hardly be more http://www.officialcowboysfootballauthentic.com/COWBOYS-ROGER-STAUBACH-JERSEY absurd, particularly when Authentic Miles Plumlee Jersey Uefa have already given ample hope to potential first-timers by expanding their flagship competition to 24 teams. It smacks of an inducement to push their new event through, in the process lessening their own brainchild’s credibility and confirming its Europa League-ification. Scotland were among the occasional European Championship qualifiers to back the idea of a consolation place during early discussions about the Nations League, seeing it as a more compelling plus point than the near-abolition of friendlies and, unsurprisingly, they were far from alone. Perhaps Uefa deemed it a measure that would lasso its disparate members into the new format; soon enough the audience figures will show whether it was worth the added head-scratching.