Heavyweight group deciders as COVID and injuries take toll

UEFA League of Nations Highlights – -Stream LIVE on ESPN+ (US only) – Some of the continent’s top teams are fighting for a place in October 2021 and a place in the 2022 FIFA World Cup?

This year the preparations were interrupted by KOVID-19 – due to the fact that the virus and the players were struggling with an intense pile of gadgets, some of Europe’s best talents were not available. Finally, at this most turbulent time of the year, there is a growing fear of one of the most prosperous countries in Europe, while others believe it is the right time to attract exciting young talent.

Here’s everything you need to know for the last two rounds of the League of Nations group game.

– What is the UEFA League of Nations?
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Fourfold chaos

Membership of the League of Nations is a confusion of logistics, biohazardous bubbles, KOVID-19 tests and load management. But sludge in water is also subject to different quarantine regulations in different countries, and new restrictions for Denmark prove that it is particularly heavy. The British government has banned all travel from Denmark for non-British nationals and has not offered any exemptions for top sportsmen and women. With Iceland playing against Denmark on Sunday, the Icelandic team will not be allowed to travel to Great Britain to meet England at Wembley on Wednesday, as expected, so both countries will try to find a neutral base for their match.

It also has an impact on the Danish team – neither Pierre-Emile Hoybjerg from Tottenham, Henrik Dalsgaard from Brentford, nor Matthias Jensen from Brentford have been released for international duties.

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KOVID-19 also made a direct break in the Danish team with Robert Skov from Hoffenheim and a positive result in the physiotherapy test, while the Belgian captain Eden Hazard also dropped out this week. Germany will be without Niklas Sule, Kai Havertz and Emre Khan, while striker Eden Jacko will be absent in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Then there’s Italy. Manager Roberto Mancini, who tested positive, mentioned an inflated team of 41 in three matches – a friendly against Estonia and the League of Nations against Poland and Bosnia-Herzegovina – in light of the domestic unrest related to the pandemic, in which six Series A clubs recently announced positive results.

Break-in costs

As some of Europe’s top players are retiring because of an injury, club officials will keep their fingers crossed so that their stars can return home unharmed within seven days of three games with injuries. England is already sweating from Marcus Rashford after a shoulder injury against Everton, Trent Alexander-Arnold is suspended after a calf injury against Manchester City on Sunday and Joe Gomez has long been on the sidelines after a knee injury in practice on Wednesday.

In Spain, Ansú Fati from Barcelona is no longer available after a knee injury that will probably keep him out for four months. The German star Joshua Kimmich will only be available in January due to a knee injury he suffered against Borussia Dortmund.

The Netherlands sent Stephen Bergwein back to Spurs after his aptitude test, while Virgil van Dijk was absent for a long time. Nathan Ake could still be away for a few weeks after his muscle injury in Wednesday’s 1-1 draw with Spain. And Belgium is robbed of Timothy Castañ, Leandro Trossar and Yannick Carrasco.

In Portugal, Cristiano Ronaldo is present, although the striker scored a single goal at the weekend – he scored once 7-0 against Andorra on Wednesday after the break – but the list of those on the sidelines is getting longer due to the anger of their clubs.

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The managers are absolutely sure that the list of frames will not be exhausted. Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer described the Premier League calendar as a complete mess and said that authorities had condemned his team to failure before they won at Everton on Saturday. Jurgen Klopp from Liverpool has already criticised the break in the international matches and the lack of calm for the players. Tottenham coach Jose Mourinho says that when his players join the national team, I never expect the good, only the bad. There’s never anything good.

Meanwhile, the national team leaders have appointed the most important teams, not only to overcome the difficulties of KOVID-19, but also to juggle their options. It’s important that we have enough players we can rely on. There was a message from Bosnia-Herzegovina boss Dušan Bajević after he had selected 32 players, but France manager Didier Deschamps played on possible fear that the players would hit the wall.

I wouldn’t say there is a risk of exhaustion, but physical fitness is an element to take into account, Deshamps said. In recent weeks, the players have played nine games: one every three days, including the European leagues. I can’t say I’m not relieved to see one of my internationals on the couch leave for my club!

Crushing games for the European Giants

We are at the economic end of the group phase of the League of Nations, so the billiard games are essentially play-off games for the semi-finals and for promotion and relegation. An excellent example is the presence of Portugal and France in the third group on Saturday in Lisbon (14:45 on ESPN+). Portugal will defend the crown of the League of Nations and has appointed a team of 25 players. Pepe, 37, is missing for injury.

We can take this opportunity to take a look at the players in our extensive team, said the Portuguese boss Fernando Santos, with an eye to the future. Paulinho and Pedro Neto belong to that list of 40 or 50 players that I really like. There’s none that I don’t trust or have no quality in.

Fault! The file name is not specified. Portugal and France come together on Saturday in a competition that is expected to take place in Group A of the League of Nations. Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP) (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP via Getty Images)

On the other side of the table, it is very difficult to judge the shape of France, especially after their surprising 2-0-friendly defeat against Finland on Wednesday. Deschamps has tried several arrangements – 4-3-3 plays three times in the background, Diamond 4-4-2 – so it seems he’s still testing the water to find the best mix for next summer’s Euro. Kilian Mbappe’s health is questioned by a hamstring injury, while Benjamin Pavard and Presnel Kimpembe also doubt.

Deschamps also talked about Paul Pogba’s position at Manchester United and said he wasn’t happy with his playing time or positioning.

It will also be played in the context of the tense situation relating to the draw for the qualifying tournaments of the World Cup in 2022. The top ten European teams in the FIFA World Ranking will be placed for next month’s draw. Belgium, France, England, Portugal, Spain and Croatia are guaranteed to get the seeds from Pot 1, but a bad week for Italy, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands, as well as a good week for Switzerland or Poland, could mean that one of Europe’s most traditional superpowers will have to take an uncomfortable road to Qatar in 2022, where only the group winners will have the right to participate.

Italy (Group 1) is unbeaten in 20 games, while Mancini showed great efficiency for the Round Robin tournament, which started Wednesday with a 4-0 friendly victory over Estonia. Is Poland ahead of us in the tournament draw? We will defeat Poland and lead our group, he said.

Thanks to KOVID-19, preparations are underway in Denmark, while in the Netherlands, under the leadership of Frank de Bohr, the interim phase of life has begun. The Dutch are in real danger of losing the semi-final after missing 1-1 against Italy last time. De Boer also signed 0-0 with Bosnia-Herzegovina and lost 1-0 to Mexico. Their accumulation was disrupted by the absence of Bergvijn, and Mohamed Ihattaren took him out with the disease.

If the Netherlands loses to Bosnia and Poland wins to Italy, the meeting between the Netherlands and Poland next week will be a draw for a place in the World Cup Qualifying Round.

And Germany (4th group) is not so good. The national squad was shrouded in dark clouds and General Manager Oliver Birchhoff spoke to the media earlier this week, asking them to support the national squad and not to criticise too much. He acknowledges that there is a growing gap between the country and the national team, but while Birchhoff says he believes that this is largely due to the disaster of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, there is also a feeling that the national team is putting the tables and financial projections above everything else.

There is also a growing media hype in Germany to invite veterans left to their fate, Thomas Muller, Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels. They were in good condition and Boateng and Hummels were able to solve the German defense problems. Yet the return of director Joachim Lowe and Birchhoff is out of the question. If they move against the Ukraine on Saturday, their place on the World Cup grid could be compromised.

Fault! The file name is not specified. – set


Jan Aage Fjortoft casts a shadow over Joachim Lowe and the German national team after Thomas Muller’s big day in Bavaria.

Tuesday’s game Germany-Spain (14:45 on ESPN+) is a penalty kick for a place in the semi-finals, as well as many questions about Luis Enrique. The last time Spain failed because of the Ukraine and the team had a lot to tear up and change.

Who’s Spain’s number one goalie? Who’s Sergio Ramos’ best defense partner? And who’s going to score first? It seems that David De Gaye will remain between the posts before Capa Arrizabalaga and Unai Simona, Pau Torres will play next to Ramos, while they have called the rejuvenated Alvaro Morata to answer their questions in advance. Since [Alvaro] Morata came back to Juventus, he’s been a different player, both in attack and defense, Luis Enrique said. Let’s hope he can stay inside.

And in group 2, the Belgian favourite will receive England in Leuven on Sunday (2.45 pm on ESPN+) – after the race was moved from Brussels due to the 10 pm curfew. England has to win the competition to stay in the finals and get a place in the second edition of the tournament. But deep inside, the players have suffered physical losses in this race.

This is way too much, not just for me, Winger Torgan Hazard said. Champions League, Bundesliga, League of Nations… I don’t want to complain too much, because we have to do our job, but it’s a lot.

Here at the Red Devils, everyone gets hours of playtime. The national coach has selected many players. It would be difficult to play all three games in 90 minutes. The players aren’t burned. Our trainers also ask us not to take too many risks.

New faces

Despite all the omissions and upheavals, the international showcase managers offer the opportunity to present different young people. Mark Thuram, 23 years old, from Borussia Mönchengladbach, follows in the footsteps of his father Lillian to France. This season he has been great for Gladbach, with three goals and five assists in 11 games. He’s one of two players who’s not on Deschamps’ team: Monaco defender Ruben Aguilar, 27.

Elsewhere in the world, England could have made its debut with 17-year-old midfielder Jude Bellingham, who was called up after the departure of James Ward Prose from Southampton. Bellingham joined Borussia in Dortmund this summer and has played 11 times so far, including a 30-minute weekend on the bench against Bayern in Munich. When he makes his debut, the incredibly talented teenager will be the third young player in England’s history after Theo Wolcott and Wayne Rooney.

There are also potential openings for the spectacular Bote Baku with Germany’s right back, which includes the unmarked defence duo of Philip Max and Felix Uduochai. Meanwhile Belgium has added Hertha Berlin striker Dodi Luckebacchio to their team.

Atletico midfielder/striker Marcos Llorente from Madrid is at the party in Spain, while Hector Bellerin for Arsenal remembers his first performance since 2016. The Italian team has many potential debutantes: Alessandro Bastoni (Inter Milan), David Calabria (Milan), Gian Marco Ferrari (Sassuolo), Luca Pellegrini (Genoa), Matteo Pessina (Atalanta), Mattia Zaccagni (Hellas Verona) and Pietro Pellegrini (Monaco).

Pay attention: Other reports by Stefan Wersfeld, Julien Lawrence, Dale Johnson, Alex Kirkland, Sam Marsden and Andrew Cesare Richardson.

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