As domestic soccer takes a two-week break, the Nations League returns and some of the biggest national teams will need to fight for their place in the final rounds of the 2020 tournament.
The likes of England, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain must win in the coming fixtures to reach the knockout stages of the competition.
With lots to play for, matchday 5 and 6 could produce some of the greatest excitement of the 2020/21 season. Below is a selection of some of the biggest games in taking place during the November international break.
Portugal and France face off in a potential Group A3 decider. But Portugal leads the group on goal difference (+8) and shares the same amount of points as France (10). Whoever wins this will be likely to progress to the semi-finals of the Nations League. A draw would mean Portugal are the bigger favourites with one game left as France will be too far behind on goal difference. Although last meeting between the two finished 0-0, a repeat of this is unlikely in this match with so much at stake.
Italy were favourites to top Group A1 initially. However, they have only won one game and drawn three in their group and sit one point behind leaders Poland. If Poland beat Italy this weekend, and the Netherlands lose, they will progress. They lost their opening game 1-0 to the Netherlands, but have since picked up two wins and a draw to top the group. A 0-0 stalemate was played out in the reverse fixture between these two sides, however, Italy could edge this on in matchday 4 with the future of their tournament riding on this match.
Belgium and England are part of a three-way contest in Group A2 with the Red Devils and Denmark on nine points and the Three Lions on seven. England, therefore have to beat Belgium to stay in with a chance of reaching the finals of the 2020 Nations League while Belgium could extend their lead at the top of the group with a win. England will be buoyed by the fact they beat Belgium in a narrow 2-1 victory in the reverse fixture at Wembley just a month ago.
Two of Europes biggest teams will play each other in matchday 6. Germany and Spain could be involved in a straight play-off to win Group A4. Both have gone played out disappointing campaigns so far with neither side dominating the group as expected. Germany has drawn three of their four matches while Spain could only muster two consecutive wins before losing to surprise package Ukraine in game-week four.
Players to Watch
- Diogo Jota
Liverpool striker Diogo Jota has been in excellent form in this season’s Nations League. The Portuguese striker has played in four games, scored twice and provided an assist to help his side top Group A3. Jota has one of the best goals per minutes ratio in the competition, scoring 1.25 goals every game. Only Norway’s towering striker Erling Haaland betters Jota in this respect.
2. Romelu Lukaku
Despite missing one game through injury early in the competition, Inter Milan striker Romelu Lukaku has returned in fine form for his country. Lukaku scored three goals in three games for Belgium and only had five shots on goal throughout the tournament. This attacking threat could prove to be the difference between Nations League qualification and failure in two tough games against England and Denmark.
3. Robert Lewandowski
Robert Lewandowski is another player who has missed some of the Nations League campaign for his country. However, the Polish striker’s return comes at a critical time as they could win Group A1. Lewandowski has scored two goals in as many games in this year’s Nations League. But he comes into the upcoming fixtures in excellent domestic form, scoring 10 goals in his last four Bundesliga matches.
Don’t Shoot the Messenger
International fixtures in the Nations League are always difficult to call. Teams are well-matched in their groups so giant killings and upsets are far and few between. However, goals will definitely be scored over the next two matchdays. Most teams possess many talented players with an eye for goal. How do you think your nation will perform over the next week? Share your predictions in the comments below.
The Nations League group stages will be signed, sealed and delivered next week. This stage of the tournament are where things start to become more exciting and the favourites to win the Nations League 2020 will start to emerge from each group.