The sudden decline of Die Mannschaft is no joke

The sudden decline of Die Mannschaft is no joke

It hasn’t been a great year for the Germany national team and their fans. After the shock exit of the World Cup (and the embarrassing defeat against South Korea), Joachim Löw’s side recorded only 1 win in 3 games.

They managed to hold a goalless draw against France in the newly-formed UEFA Nations League (UNL), won 2-1 against Peru in a friendly and most recently, lost to the Netherlands away 3-0 also in the UNL.

Without a doubt, even not being a fan of Germany, I’m genuinely disappointed by the performance of the whole squad. There are no excuses for that since the whole squad is to be blamed. The same goes to Joachim Löw, who’s in charge of managing it.

To analyse the downfall of the Germany national team, there are a few questions to be asked:

  1. Why is Neuer still in goal? After the injuries, his form has been greatly weakened. He’s clearly not the older self he used to be. So why are chances not given to ter Stegen or Leno, who are two young in-form GKs deserving the place?
  2. Why is the frontline so weak? Werner is consistent in disappearing from the field. Mark Uth is clearly overrated. Müller isn’t scoring in the Die Mannschaft jersey. Even van Dijk, a defender, scored more goals than them. What a shame.
  3. How come is the whole defence unchanged? I get it, Bayern Munich is one of the best teams in Germany. However, Hummels and Boateng are clearly not in their best. This is why they concede. Stubbornness doesn’t always work, Joachim.
  4. Why is the squad playing with a poor mentality? The squad failed to seize the chances to score and clearly lost motivation to fight on after making mistakes. This isn’t the Germany squad we know for years.
  5. Why are the problems not fixed? My gut feeling was right. Germany didn’t win the World Cup. But the thing is, there was no real improvement in the 2014 WC winning side after the tournament. And it seems that it’s not going well for them.

I am no expert on the Germany national team. However, these are, clearly, the five areas are the problems that Löw will need to address. It is not only for the away game against France but also, his job and the future of his managerial career.

For Germany fans, I believe that the fall would only be temporary and they will come back stronger. Yet, the questions may only be unanswered prayers if Löw and the DFB don’t take action, which will leave Löw’s successor a huge mess to clean up.

What would a Catalan national team look like?

What would a Catalan national team look like?

It’s the early hours of the first of October, 2018. One year ago, to this day, the Spanish region of Catalonia held an independence referendum of contentious legality. I won’t go too much into the detail – this is a place for football, not politics – but suffice it to say that Catalonia is still part of Spain.

But what if they weren’t? What would the national team of Catalonia look like? I’m gonna take a stab at a Hypothetical XI. Here goes.

In goal, it’s Real Madrid’s Kiko Casilla.

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Imagine making a living as a third-choice goalkeeper.

Casilla was born in Alcover, in Catalonia’s southernmost province, Tarragona. His career has seen him go from Real Madrid to Cadiz to Cartagena to Espanyol and back to Real Madrid, and he’s been capped once for Spain. However, it’s likely Casilla would take this chance if it arose to get back into playing international football. Competition for the Catalan gloves would mainly come from Jordi Masip and Pau Lopez.

Our wide defenders are Martin Montoya and Victor Alvarez.

Montoya is uncapped for Spain and would be eligible through his birth in Barcelona Province. His career’s seen him play for five teams in three countries and he’s still just 27, making him a good addition to this Catalan side. Victor Alvarez would take the spot on the left of defence, with the Arsenal Tula defender perhaps a little weaker than his counterpart. Whilst Jordi Alba would be eligible, it’s hard to see him changing allegiances to play for a weaker side he probably feels less connected to.

In the heart of defence, we’re playing Marc Bartra and captain Gerard Pique.

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Yeah, THAT Gerard Pique.

One would be forgiven for thinking Pique’s in the same boat as Alba, but the Barcelona defender has made himself known as a vocal proponent of Catalan independence and you’d think he’d offer himself up straight away. With over a hundred international caps and four Champions Leagues, his experience would be vital for the side. We’ve paired him with former Barcelona teammate Marc Bartra, who has thirteen caps for his national side but hasn’t played since 2017 and would be forgiven for leaving the Spanish set-up for that of Catalonia. Backups include Jordi Amat and Marc Muniesa.

The midfield trio is – believe it or not – Cesc Fabregas, Sergi Roberto and Xavi.

Where’s it all gone wrong for Cesc Fabregas? He wasn’t picked for Spain’s World Cup squad for Russia and he’s still not played a minute in the Premier League this season. It’s looking increasingly unlikely that he’ll get into Luis Enrique’s Spain squads, and since he would be eligible for Catalonia, I’d hazard a guess he’d take the call-up. In Sergi Roberto’s case, he’s been on the outer of the Spain squad, with four caps and a goal to his name in two years. It’s difficult to tell how much quality he’s really got, but some international football is almost always better than no international football.

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The Qatari money’s done wonders for him.

Yeah, Xavi is still playing at the age of 38. Whether or not he’d be willing to play international football again after a four-year absence is questionable, but we certainly hope so. After all, it’s the greatest midfielder of our generation, coming back (at least sometimes) to Europe. This is something we need to happen. In case it doesn’t for some incredibly disappointing reason, we have two options: tempt Sergio Busquets out of playing for Spain, or replace him with Victor Rodriguez or Gerard Deulofeu (although some structural changes may be needed for the latter).

Our two wingers are Cristian Tello and Aleix Vidal.

Looking at Vidal first: we’re going to play him on the right wing. Vidal’s now at Sevilla after three uneventful years at Barcelona, and he should be expecting more regular club football. Regular international football on the other hand isn’t happening for Spain, with Vidal picking up just one cap. Opposite him we’ve placed Cristian Tello, another one of the one-cap lot. Tello’s now at Real Betis alongside our centreback Marc Bartra, and he seems to be getting regular football there. International football would be a step up for him.

And banging in the goals, it’s none other than Jonathan Soriano.

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No Red Bull logo? OK, we’ll use this one.

Yes, he plays in China. Yes, he hasn’t excelled in a “big” league. But his goalscoring record speaks for itself. In five years with Salzburg, Soriano scored 172 in 202, and now at Beijing Sinobo Guoan, he’s got thirty in thirty-four. Bear in mind that he hasn’t exactly got the greatest teammates in the world either, with only Renato Augusto and Cedric Bakambu that stick out. Soriano could do wonders for this Catalonia team.

And there you have it, folks. This could be a decent team with a couple of years of international football behind it. I’m almost disappointed I’ll never get to see it in action. But ultimately, it’s all Hypothetical.

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An XI of French-born footballers playing for other countries

An XI of French-born footballers playing for other countries

In the wake of the 2018 World Cup, many people were speculating on the origins and background of the French team. It’s hard to blame them – after all, the side doesn’t exactly look like twenty-three randomly selected French lads. The point made by many was that France’s victory was a victory for Africa too, since they contributed so much to the team. This, of course, was controversial and led to people from all walks of life weighing in with their opinion.

Instead of talking about that, however, I think there’s an important point to be made in the reverse. As opposed to looking at perceived foreigners in the French set-up, we’re going to look at French-born players with other international sides. It’s a better side than you might expect so let’s jump straight in.

In goal, we’ve got Anthony Lopes of Portugal.

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Anthony Lopes is in between the sticks for our side. The Portuguese shot-stopper was born near Lyon and came through Les Gones’ academy before making his debut for the club in 2012. Still at Olympique after six years in the first team and eighteen at the club, Lopes was Rui Patricio’s backup for the 2016 European Championships which Portugal won.

Our fullbacks are Raphaël Guerreiro and Faouzi Ghoulam.

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Guerreiro is one of world football’s underappreciated talents. Born in northern Paris, Guerreiro is half-Portuguese and used this to his advantage, becoming an important player in Portugal’s Euro win in 2016 and being nominated for Young Player of the Tournament. He’s also had a successful club career with Stade Malherbe Caen, Lorient and Borussia Dortmund and was in the Champions League Breakthrough XI in 2016.

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Faouzi Ghoulam, meanwhile, plays his international football for Algeria. The left-back has 35 caps for his country at the age of 27, and went to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup. In terms of his club career, Ghoulam has been at Napoli since his move from boyhood club Saint-Etienne four years ago and has been solid at the back there, being linked with just about every English club at some point.

In the middle of defence, we’ve got Kalidou Koulibaly and Medhi Benatia.

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Ghoulam’s Napoli teammate Kalidou Koulibaly is also French-born, hailing from the north-east. He spent his formative years at Metz before a 2012 move to Genk in Belgium and a switch to Napoli two years later. Koulibaly went to Russia for this year’s World Cup and has twenty-eight caps for Senegal in four years. Oh, and Chelsea may or may not be interested in him.

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Medhi Benatia is the most experienced player on our team so far with time at two of Europe’s biggest clubs and four consecutive league titles under his belt. Hailing from Courcouronnes in southern Paris, Benatia joined the academies of Guingamp and then Marseille before graduating into the first team. Time at Clermont, Udinese and Roma followed, before moves to Bayern Munich and then Juventus. Internationally, Benatia has fifty-five games for Morocco.

Running the show in the middle of midfield, it’s Adrien Silva and Geoffrey Kondogbia.

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The final member of our Portuguese delegation, Silva is in the same boat as Guerreiro – although unlike Guerreiro, Silva’s famly returned to Portugal when he was eleven and therefore he went through Sporting’s academy. Silva was loyal to the Verde e Brancos for fifteen years total, before his move to England and Leicester City. He also played a role in Portugal’s Euro triumph and went to the World Cup in 2018.

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OK, so Kondogbia has played for France before, but he’s switched his international allegiance away so he’s all good for this list. Kondogbia is from Nemours, forty kilometres south of Paris, and played for Lens in his youth. Moves to Sevilla, Monaco, Internazionale and then Valencia followed. Kondogbia has also played five friendlies for France, but has changed his allegiance to the Central African Republic (a republic in the central bit of Africa).

Out wide, there are Riyad Mahrez and Yacine Brahimi.

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It’s easy to forget that Riyad Mahrez is just twenty-seven years of age, what with the frankly ridiculous career he’s had. He never joined an elite academy, instead playing for Quimper in the fourth tier before moving to Le Havre, and then Leicester City where he won the league title and the Premier League Fans’ and Players’ Player of the Year awards. Earlier this year he transferred to Manchester City. Internationally, Mahrez has represented Algeria at the 2014 World Cup and has almost forty caps. Oh, and he came seventh in the Ballon d’Or 2016.

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Porto winger Yacine Brahimi is our other French Algerian. Originally from Paris, Brahimi joined the PSG academy in 2004 before moving to Stade Rennais, making his debut in 2009. Transfers to Granada and then Portuguese giants Porto followed, and he’s been linked with English teams including Liverpool and Everton. He also has thirty-nine caps for his country and represented them at the 2014 World Cup.

And our attacking partnership are Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Gonzalo Higuain.

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Aubameyang is Gabon’s captain but was born and raised in France, and lived there until his 2007 move to Milan’s academy. The striker stayed at the Italian club until 2011 when he moved back to France with Saint-Etienne, and in 2013 he joined German side Borussia Dortmund, winning the Bundesliga top scorer award in 2017. In 2018, Arsenal signed Aubameyang for £56m. Internationally, he’s only the top scorer of all time for his country of Gabon.

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Yep, you read that right. Higuain was born in France as his father was playing for a French team, Stade Brestois 29, at the time of his birth. It didn’t take long for him to leave – he spent his first birthday in Argentina – and to this day he’s never played for a French club, being the only player on this list (apart from Silva) not to have done so. Internationally Higuain’s not done badly – three international silver medals is pretty neat – but you have to think he would have taken a World Cup with France if he had the opportunity.

And there you have it, folks. Yes, I know about Toko Ekambi, or Ayew, or Harit, Bolasie, Bentaleb, whoever. This wasn’t an easy list to make.

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Denmark’s squad is less experienced than any you’ve seen before

Denmark’s squad is less experienced than any you’ve seen before

Denmark, the side currently ranked ninth by FIFA, have announced their squad for their friendly match against Slovakia and their Nations League tie against Wales. Here it is:

Morten Bank, Christian Bannis, Mads Priisholm Bertelsen, Christian Bommelund Christensen, Rasmus Gaudin, Adam Fogt, Anders Fønss, Victor Hansen, Anders Hunsballe, Oskar Højbye, Christoffer Haagh, Christopher Jakobsen, Nicolai Johansen, Rasmus Johanson, Kevin Jørgensen, Kasper Kempel, Victor Larsen, Daniel Nielsen, Troels Cillius Nielsen, Christian Offenberg, Kasper Skræp, Daniel Holm Sørensen, Louis Veis and Simon Vollesen

Safe to say, it’s not the most experienced squad you’ve ever seen.

At the last World Cup, the most experienced team were Panama with a handy 1,398 caps. Denmark themselves managed just short of 600 while the least experienced side, England, had 465. But this Danish side has less still. New Zealand, my own country, took twenty-three players to India in early June with a combined total of just 145 caps – this Danish team has even less caps than that. In fact, Christian Eriksen by himself, with 82 caps, has more international experience than this side.

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This team, twenty-four players strong, has a grand total of zero international caps. No, we’re not joking. What’s more, they’re mainly taken from the third and fourth tiers of Danish football, and five of them are futsal players, not footballers. How did this happen?

Basically, Danish players have got themselves in a dispute with the Dansk Boldspil Union, the football association of Denmark. They’re unhappy over their commercial rights, and they haven’t been able to reach an agreement with the DBU. The original squad picked, including Kasper Schmeichel and Christian Eriksen, have been sent back to their clubs. However, with Denmark unwilling to forfeit, they’ve plucked a squad out of the lower leagues to play Slovakia and Wales.

The star player, if you can call him that, is Christian Offenberg of BK Avarta. The 30-year-old has scored almost a goal per game so far this season, putting him at the top of the scorers’ list in the Danish third tier. Other top players include Daniel Holm, who has eight age-group international caps, and Simon Vollesen who has played once for Lyngby.

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Understandably, other teams are not particularly happy about this. Jan Kozak, the Slovakian manager, said, “What’s the point of traveling here with a team like that? From the sport’s point of view, we won’t get anything from the game.” They’ve also dropped ticket prices to just one euro and are planning to go to UEFA about it. And it’s not like Denmark can cancel the game – they may be forced to sit out the Nations League or the 2020 Euros if they do.

It’s not entirely clear how Denmark have got themselves into this mess. And at the moment, it’s looking increasingly difficult for them to get out of it.

Image credit: 

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Why South Korea’s military exemption for footballers makes no sense

Why South Korea’s military exemption for footballers makes no sense

Yesterday, South Korea beat Japan 2-1 in the Asian Games 2018 men’s football final. The win meant South Korea’s squad would not have to partake in military service like most South Koreans, and was very good news for Son Heung-Min as this was his last chance to dodge the draft. Most football fans are too happy at the result to really look into the minutiae of the system. It’s time to change that.

First of all, who has to go into military service in South Korea? All men. They must have completed the service by 33, but for footballers, it’s even tighter – they must be done by 28. There are a couple of exemptions for footballers, however. If they win the World Cup, or the Asian Games, they don’t have to do it.

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Because of course South Korea have the talent to win the World Cup.

That leaves the Asian Games as their way to an exemption. And this, frankly, makes no sense whatsoever.

For one, the Asian Games men’s football tournament is for under-23s. Teams are permitted three overage players, with South Korea this year picking Jo Hyeonwoo, Son Heungmin and Hwang Uijo. Effectively, it’s South Korea u23s who get the exemption, some of which will never play for their country. Just four of the 20-man Asian Games squad went to the World Cup in Russia earlier this year, showing the massive disparity between the teams. Surely the team that went to the World Cup, won against Germany and honoured their country well deserve that exemption more than this under-23 squad, most of whom have never played top-level international football?

Let’s look at the Asian Cup. In 2015, South Korea went to the final of the competition, which they lost to Australia, but they took a stellar squad with them. They had players like Lee Chungyong, Koo Jacheol, and Park Jooho, all of whom played in Europe’s five top leagues at the time of the competition. These players took their national team, the proper thing, to the final of an Asian-wide competition, showing off South Korea to the whole continent. Aren’t they deserving of an exemption?

And for that matter, why don’t any international players get an exemption? It’s an incredibly difficult journey that these players take to get to the level that they’re playing for their country. They’re representing South Korea on the world stage. They’re the ones that the world notices. And how does they country, their homeland, repay them? That’ll be twenty-one months of military service, thank you.

Come on, South Korea. Treat these players properly. They show you a lot of respect, now it’s time to show them some.

Image credit: https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/onesport/cps/480/cpsprodpb/29D2/production/_103160701_gettyimages-1014970224.jpg

Clint Dempsey retires: A look at the career of an American legend

Clint Dempsey retires: A look at the career of an American legend

The footballing world heard the news today that after fifteen years, over two hundred goals and six trophies, Clint Dempsey has announced his retirement aged 35.

Now, when I think of Dempsey, what comes to mind is his time at Fulham in the Premier League, and of course, with Seattle Sounders in Major League Soccer. I think of his international career, in which he scored fifty-seven goals over the course of fifteen years. I think of his iconic No. 2 jersey he wore with both Tottenham Hotspur and Seattle. And of course, I can’t forget the time he stole an official’s notebook and tore it up on the field.

But of course, there’s more to Deuce’s career than that. I figure now’s a good time to take a look back on it, so we’re going to do just that.

Dempsey’s early life wasn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination. Born in a small city in eastern Texas, he grew up living in a trailer park and kicking a football around with the other kids there. He only really got his break by a stroke of luck, being noticed by a scout whilst juggling on the sidelines of his brother’s game. Eventually, he was forced to quit because of financial constraints but team-mates offered to pay some of his fees. His sister passed away when he was just twelve years old, but this gave him a new motivation to keep succeeding.

After success playing for a top-level Dallas youth side, he moved across the country to South Carolina and Furman University to study health and exercise science. And yes, of course he joined the football team, the Paladins, scoring seventeen goals in three years there and leading them to the Round of 16 in the NCAA tournament for just the second time in their history.

Dempsey was selected in the first round of the 2004 MLS SuperDraft by the New England Revolution. Now at the age of 20, Dempsey had to make an impression for the Revolution if he really wanted to push on – and that he did, starting all matches but one and picking up MLS Rookie of the Year 2004. The year after, he pushed on further, reaching double digits for the first time and taking the Revs to the MLS Cup Final. And in 2006, despite injury problems, he still managed to score eight goals in twenty-one matches and went to the World Cup in Germany, being the only US player to score a goal.

Of course, foreign sides started to take interest, as they do, and Fulham swooped in to sign him for $4 million USD. This might not sound like a lot, but it was 2006 and this was the most an MLS player had ever been sold for. And with that, Dempsey was a Cottager.

I would be lying if I told you he adjusted right away. In that first half season, he struggled. Dempsey netted only one goal in twelve matches, not exactly great for a forward. However, this was the goal that secured a 1-0 win over Liverpool, which kept Fulham in the top-flight. It was the season afterwards he really started to push on, with one goal becoming six, then eight, then nine, then thirteen. This doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s worth remembering that there’s only so many goals you can score when you play for Fulham.

In this time, he scored some pretty important goals. For example, in 2010, he scored the winner against Juventus (yep, this actually happened) with a well-taken chip, which has been called one of the most important goals, if not the most important goal in Fulham’s history. He took this side to the Europa League final, where they lost to Atletico Madrid. And also in 2010, for the second World Cup in a row, he managed a goal, against England in a 1-1 draw.

It’s now 2012. Dempsey’s just had the season of his life. He’s scored twenty-three goals – seventeen in the league – and he’s become the first American to reach fifty goals in the Premier League. The FWA Footballer of the Year award rolls around and he manages to come fourth, behind Robin Van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Paul Scholes. Of course, playing this well, there’s only so long he could stay at Fulham and in August 2012, he crossed London to Tottenham Hotspur.

Dempsey stayed at Spurs for only a year, scoring seven goals in twenty-nine league matches. His form outside of the league was better, with five in fourteen, but he wasn’t reaching the heights he had at Fulham, or that other strikers at the club had. That season, he was outscored by both Gareth Bale and Jermain Defoe, and instead of being in a starring role like he’d been in at Craven Cottage, he was one of the supporting cast. It’s no surprise that just a year later, he went back to the United States, and barring a two-month loan back to Fulham, that’s where he spent the rest of his career.

The first half season at Seattle Sounders wasn’t a great one, as Dempsey scored once in nine league games. However, he flourished in 2014, scoring fifteen times in twenty-six matches, his best season ever in MLS. He also managed ten assists and took the Sounders to a Supporters’ Shield win.  And of course, he scored at the World Cup, after just half a minute against Ghana.

From here, Dempsey’s career began to wind down. Fifteen goals became ten, then eight. In 2017, he had a better season, scoring twelve in the league and winning the Comeback Player of the Year, but with poorer fitness leading to speculation about his retirement, it was clear his career was coming to an end. After just one goal this season, Clint Dempsey retired.

The influence he had on the sport in America cannot be understated. Players like himself and Landon Donovan helped to elevate football in the United States to higher than it had been before. Dempsey brought America to the Premier League, sure, but he also brought the Premier League to America. He gave Americans someone to root for, and I think that will be his real legacy: bringing American football and European football closer together.

The Nations League: A look at Europe’s newest international competition

The Nations League: A look at Europe’s newest international competition

The date is the 6th of September, 2018. It’s a cold, winter evening at the Astana Arena in Kazakhstan. Bauyrzhan Islamkhan and Jaba Kankava, captains of their respective national sides, meet in the middle of the pitch with the referee and his assistants. After the coin toss has been performed, the captains and officials have shaken hands and the players are ready, Kazakhstan v Georgia kicks off – and so does the UEFA Nations League.

The Nations League is a new competition adopted by UEFA in order to put meaningful matches into the international window slots. Gone are the days of pointless, half-hearted friendlies in the middle of October – there’s now this competition, involving all fifty-five of UEFA’s national teams in four divisions and with a competition spanning eight months. Here’s how it all works.

The teams have been divided into four divisions, with League A having the best sides in Europe, including all four World Cup semi-finalists, plus Portugal, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands and Iceland. At the other end of the scale, Group D has the weakest sides, like the aforementioned Kazakhstan and Georgia, as well as Gibraltar, Luxembourg, Macedonia, those sorts. Every league has then been divided into four groups, and every team plays every other team in the group home and away – yes, you get a fancy map for that too.

So, now that that’s all sorted, how’s it actually work?

Well, as I mentioned before, every team plays every other team in their group home and away, as per usual. The teams who finish top of their groups in Leagues B, C and D are promoted for the next season (2020-21) whilst those who finish bottom in A, B and C go down (there’s a technicality in Group C, but that’s not super important). These group games are played from September to November.

For Leagues B, C and D, that’s it for now. There’s promotion and relegation, like I’ve mentioned, and that’s it. The group winners of League A play semi-finals, and then a third-place match and a final. The winners of the final get a trophy and presumably an open-top parade just like any other tournament win. This will be at the start of June 2019.

Now 2019-20 won’t have a Nations League, because of European Championships qualifying being on. However, there’s a slight change to the way qualifying works. As always, the fifty-five nations of Europe are drawn into ten groups, and the top two teams from each group after qualifying will make it to the 2020 Euros. But there are still four spots left. This is where it gets weird, so hold tight.

Let’s imagine that these teams qualify for the Euros: Germany, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Portugal, Italy, Poland, Spain, Croatia, Slovakia, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Russia, Sweden, Austria, Denmark, Scotland, Hungary, Greece and Norway. Long list, I know, but bear with me.

What now happens is the top teams from each group that have not yet qualified for the final tournament go into a playoff. In League D, since no teams have qualified in this scenario, it’s simply the group winners. In Leagues B and C, it’s simply whoever comes top of each group, excluding teams who have already qualified.

There is one slight problem – in League B, one group (Slovakia, Ukraine, Czech Republic) has all teams already qualified. In that case, a team from a different group will get that spot.

Finally, in League A, the top team from each group that has not yet qualified will get the playoff spot. In Group 1, that’s the Netherlands, and in Group 2, it’s Iceland. In Group 4, England takes the spot. In Group 3, since all three teams are qualified and there are no other teams left in League A to give it to, then it will pass down to League B for their best team without a spot to take it.

OK, so finally we have the playoffs sorted. What now?

Well, each league has its own playoff. There are semi-finals and a final, and the winners of the playoffs will be going to Euro 2020. This guarantees a Euros spot to every league, meaning that a team from League D will be going to the European Championships. Only one of these teams (Latvia) has ever been to the Euros before, in 2004, meaning that it will almost certainly be this League D qualifier’s first time at the event.

And there you have it. It’s a complicated system, sure, but it should all become more clear in the coming months as the inaugural Nations League kicks off. It may be a success, it may turn to disaster, but we can’t wait for it to get underway. Nations League, bring it on.