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The England Players Can't Understand The Nations League

The England Players Can't Understand The Nations League
By Gavin Cooney

You have never seen a more conspicuous mix of confusion and faint pride when Balls ran home recently to tell all that we had finished our PhD on How To Operate UEFA Draws.

(You may think that it's an area of limited personal progression, but there's Gianni Infantino at the head of FIFA, entertaining various malign heads of state all the while looking like he accidentally stumbled into the wrong room).

Our new-found academic expertise also extends to international competitions, which is useful ahead of the first week of the Nations League, a competition so deeply complicated that it is muddling men as discerning as Gareth Southgate and the England football team.

Speaking to the Telegraph, Harry 'Slabhead' Maguire admits that Gareth Southgate held a presentation for the squad to explain how the competition works. England are in the top division - League A - and are in a group with Spain and Croatia. In League A, the four group winners advance to a mini-competition next year, consisting of semi-finals and a final.

Whoever finishes bottom of each of the three-team groups is relegated to League B for the next installment of the competition.

This likely won't trouble England, but the Nations League also offers a backdoor qualification into Euro 2020. The highest placed side in each of the groups that hasn't already qualified for the Euros through traditional qualifying will go to a mini-playoff series to earn a spot at the tournament.

(The likelihood is that most of League 'A' will qualify via the normal route, so there may be a blurring of lines between Leagues 'A' and 'B' in order to pluck four teams for the playoffs. That is genuinely complicated and beyond the scope of the PhD we are maintaining through a seventh paragraph, so it is best to worry about all of that when it happens).


Anyway, here's what Maguire had to say:

It is quite confusing – I don’t know what you guys think of it? The boss tried to explain it to us the best he could the other day. I think he has got his head around it now, but it took a lot of studying.

It is confusing, but we are trying to get our heads round it. For us players, we just go into each game trying to win it and see where it takes us. So we will see after the game.

England face Spain on Saturday night at Wembley.

See Also: PL Review - Andy Gray's Dinosaur Claims Shows How Far Football Has Come

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