Nations League proving a surprise hit

Gareth Southgate of England sings the National Anthem with his coaching staff ahead of the International Friendly match
Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

When the UEFA Nations League was first announced, there were many sceptics out there. Some said it was just another UEFA gravy train, while others said the competition games were just glorified friendlies.

However, it seems that the maiden group stages have proven a big success and changed the opinion of many about the newly established competition.

Has been very competitive

The critics who believed that the Nations League would just be glorified friendly matches only had to witness England’s clash with Croatia on Sunday afternoon to be proven wrong.

Instead of a nice casual friendly, both teams went at it in a highly competitive encounter. Unlike friendly games, the players seemed to go all out for the victory. The way both teams and fans celebrated the goals in England’s 2-1 win illustrated that the game and competition mattered more than a meaningless friendly game.

Far more interesting than friendly games

For many, friendly games in the middle of a European club season are a real drag. Just when the big European leagues are building momentum, along came these pointless games.

At least the Nations League format has made the games more interesting and each match means something, especially in the three-team groups. As a fan, the new competition made the international break slightly more bearable than usual.

Likely to become a regular fixture in the international game

The group stages of the Nations League have certainly raised the profile of the new competition, and it certainly has proven a hit with many fans so far.

Many will now see the competition as more than just another way of UEFA raking in the cash. The Nations League may have started in a small way, but so did the other major international tournaments, such as the European Championship and of course the World Cup.

It seems that the new competition may well become a regular fixture in the international football calendar, which may not be a terrible thing after all.

What do you think of the Nations League?