Nations League games offer the last chance to prepare for the World Cup

Nations League games offer the last chance to prepare for the World Cup

A hectic schedule of club football ahead of the World Cup comes to a halt this week as the national teams have one last chance to fine-tune their preparations before traveling to Qatar for the start of the tournament on November 20.

Holding the World Cup in the middle of the European season is having important consequences for the clubs but also for the coaches of the national teams.

While the domestic competitions bear the brunt of the calendar turmoil as they are forced to stop a week before the opening match in Qatar, that also means there will be almost no time for teams to work together before starting their campaigns. in the World Cup.

Additional importance is therefore attached to next week’s events, as European teams complete the UEFA Nations League group stage while other contenders play friendly matches, including Brazil’s back-to-back matches on French soil against Ghana and Tunisia.

– French concerns –

Reigning world champions France are preparing to defend the crown they won in Russia in 2018 while also trying to avoid being relegated from the top tier of the Nations League.

Les Bleus, who won the Nations League last year, host Austria on Thursday and visit Denmark on Sunday needing to win both games to secure their place in League A.

But France coach Didier Deschamps has numerous problems, including injuries to key players including Paul Pogba – he is recovering from knee surgery that has left him in a race against time to be fit for Qatar.

“He will do everything to try to get fit as quickly as possible, despite the lack of time,” Deschamps told broadcaster TF1 on Sunday.

It’s also too early to say whether a dispute between Kylian Mbappe and the French Football Federation over image rights could affect team morale, with the Paris Saint-Germain star refusing to take part in a photo shoot on Monday. .

France’s latest squad features several new faces hoping to seize their chance to impress before the final rosters are submitted to FIFA before November 13.

– Toney gets England chance –

England manager Gareth Southgate has given Brentford striker Ivan Toney a chance as the Euro 2020 runners-up play Italy and Germany in the A3 Nations League.

Like France, England suffered a string of poor results in June and realistically need to win these two games to avoid relegation to League B.

But Southgate will run the rule on an expanded 28-man squad with Qatar in mind.

“Part of the reason is that we are very close to a World Cup and we feel that although our results were disappointing in the summer, we have chosen on the basis of form and ability over a long period,” Southgate said last week. .

Spain and Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal will warm up for the World Cup when they meet in Braga on September 27 in a match that could decide which of the Iberian neighbors advances to the Nations League final next June.

Meanwhile, fresh off signing a new four-year deal, Wales manager Robert Page has named Los Angeles FC’s Gareth Bale in his squad for the matches against Belgium and Poland.

It looks like Wales will be relegated from their Nations League group too, but that’s not something they’re too concerned about before they return to the World Cup stage for the first time since 1958.

UEFA Nations League highlights this week (18:45 GMT kick-off)


Group A1

France v Austria

Croatia v Denmark

Group A4

Belgium v ​​Wales

Poland v Netherlands


Group A3

Germany v Hungary

Italy v England


Group A2

Spain v Switzerland

Czech Republic v Portugal

Group B4

Serbia v Sweden


Group A1

Austria v Croatia

Denmark v France

Group A4

Netherlands v Belgium

Wales v Poland

Monday, September 26

Group A3

England vs Germany

Hungary v Italy

Tuesday, September 27

Group A2

Switzerland v Czech Republic

Portugal vs. Spain

Group B4

Norway vs Serbia


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