Yet another major trophy in Europe has been decided as France lifted the 2020-21 UEFA Nations League after beating Spain in the final. It may not be the most rewarding trophy in international football currently but Didier Deschamps’ Les Blues would surely enjoy this victory.
In this piece, we are looking at the key takeaways from the 2020-21 UEFA Nations League.
FRANCE EMERGE VICTORIOUS
The first half of the Nations League final failed to live up to the hype but the second half was worthy of any final. Spain netted first but was soon equalised by France within a couple of minutes. Kylian Mbappe scored late for France albeit in a slightly controversial manner and gave France another trophy in their cabinet.
France were in a tough group with the likes of defending champions Portugal, 2018 FIFA World Cup runners up Croatia and Sweden who had a decent European Championship campaign. Les Blues remained unbeaten throughout the group stage and got a much-deserved spot in the semi-final.
They were up against the FIFA first ranked team Belgium and the fixture proved to be a cracker of a match. It needed a ninetieth-minute winner from Theo Hernandez to seal a place in the final and the rest is history.
HAALAND, LUKAKU AND TORRES SHARE THE GOLDEN BOOT
A tournament that saw the best marksmen in European football couldn’t decide on who was the most prolific as three strikers finished with six goals each resulting in the Golden Boot Award being shared. Norway’s Erling Haaland, Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku and Spain’s Ferran Torres all finished with six goals each having played a varied number of games.
MATCHES THAT CAUGHT OUR EYES
After 100 matches in the 2020-21 UEFA Nations League, there were a few that would be remembered as all-time classics from this edition of the tournament. Here are three that stood out.
SPAIN 6-0 GERMANY
This probably was the moment when Joachim Lowe knew it was all over for him as the German coach. They were humiliated by the eventual runners up, Spain on a cold night in Seville in November 2020. Ferran Torres netted a hat trick and was followed by a goal each by Alvaro Morata, Mikel Ozyarbal and Rodrigo to complete this 6-0 mauling of the former World champions.
BELGIUM 2-3 FRANCE
The stage was set for two best teams in the world to take centre stage in the semi-final of the UEFA Nations League when Belgium met France. The match lived up to the hype and was highly competitive throughout the 90 minutes. In the first half itself, Belgium were far superior to the World Champions, France and were leading 2-0 going into the break. Whatever Didier Deschamps said in the half time interval worked like magic in the second half as the team came out with new vigour. They equalised on the 69th minute and it then needed a special 90th-minute winner from Theo Hernandez to book a place in the final. This resulted in yet another disappointment for the golden generation of Belgian football.
ITALY 1-2 SPAIN
What was a repeat of the Euro 2020 semi-final saw a different result this time around in the Nations League. Two heavyweights of European football clashed yet again and it proved to be another top class encounter. Spain were a little unlucky in the Euro 2020 semi-final not to progress to the final but this time around Luis Enrique’s La Roja made sure they get one over Roberto Mancini’s Italian team and get a date in the final.
THIBAUT COURTOIS LETS HIS THOUGHTS KNOWN
After the defeat in the match for the third-place finish, Belgium’s keeper Thibaut Courtois let his thoughts about the relentless schedule for a footballer be known| to the public in the post-match interview. He expressed how he felt that matches like the one he was a part of are a money making move and if we aren’t going to talk about player welfare now then soon it will be too late as the best players would keep getting injured. This will have an impact on the overall standard of the game and this is a topic that has been talked about by many of the prominent coaches as well in the past. Something to ponder on, surely.
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