7 more must-see Nations League games on Premier Sports in June

The first week or so of the UEFA Nations League has seen some thrilling games, spectacular goals and stand-out performances. Best of all, there’s plenty more to come.

With World Cup holders France in action twice in the next few days, and Qatar 2022 hopefuls Spain and Portugal taking to the field too, the stakes are high. And then there is Norway superstar Erling Haaland, who has already made his mark on the Nations League as he prepares for life with Manchester City.

All told, the final few days of June’s Nations League program should produce plenty more memorable moments, and that’s not including Italy’s heavyweight meetings with England and Germany.

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Austria vs. France & Denmark vs. Croatia – Friday June 10

Denmark’s perfect start to UEFA Nations League A means the third round of fixtures in Group 1 could be decisive for all involved. Croatia can’t afford another game without a win as whoever is victorious between Austria and France could pull away and leave the 2018 World Cup runners-up stranded.

Croatia have taken a point from their first two games – coming in the draw with France, which is also Les Bleus’ only point thus far – but if France beat Austria, they’ll leap into second place. And if Austria beat France and Denmark beat Croatia, the two World Cup finalists from four years ago will be cut adrift. Croatia essentially have to pick up three points to keep themselves alive in the group.

Netherlands vs. Poland – Saturday June 11

The Netherlands recorded arguably the pick of the results of the first round of UEFA Nations League A fixtures with a 4-1 win in Belgium. Louis Van Gaal’s side meet Wales on June 8 prior to hosting Poland and the Dragons will be on a high after securing a first World Cup appearance since 1958, making that game itself a tough tests for the Dutch.

Poland travel to De Kuip only three days later and a first group game in front of their home fans will present a new challenge. The Oranje have occasionally threatened to return to their glorious 1970s best – their last two World Cup appearances have seen them finish second and third respectively, but they didn’t qualify at all for 2018 – and the home fans could be forgiven for feeling a little fatigue over their country’s trials and tribulations. How the Netherlands perform at home – and how they are received – will say a lot about where Van Gaal’s chances of success stand.

Norway vs. Sweden – Sunday June 12

UEFA Nations League B doesn’t get the same attention as the top flight but there are fascinating fixtures here too, none more so than the all-Scandinavia clash on June 12. It comes only a week after the first group meeting between the countries, a 2-1 win for Norway in Solna.

There are no prizes for guessing which striker made the difference for Norway in that one and Erling Haaland will again be the focus in Oslo. The Manchester City-bound 21-year-old is the hottest commodity in world football and with Norway failing to reach World Cup 2022, this is the only international stage for Haaland for the time being. Keeping Haaland quiet will be crucial if Sweden are to emerge from this Scandi derby with a precious three points.

Spain vs. Czech Republic – Sunday June 12

The Czech Republic and Spain played out a thrilling 2-2 draw on June 5 – the rematch a week later could be similarly enjoyable.

Jakub Pesek opened the scoring after only four minutes of the match in Prague, setting the home side off to what would have been a first-ever win over La Roja. The lead almost lasted until the interval but a first international goal – but surely not the last – for Pedri, Barcelona’s brilliant young midfielder, levelled the scores.

Jan Kutcha put Jaroslav Silhavy’s side back in front shortly after the hour and it stayed 2-1 until the last moments, when Athletic Club’s Inigo Martinez found the net with a header that went in via the crossbar in the final minute of normal time.

Luis Enrique’s Spain reached the final of the previous Nations League, losing to France, and could have arguably won here, while the Czechs will be disappointed the didn’t seal a headline-grabbing win – especially as they won’t be at World Cup 2022, so this is their big international test this year.

Switzerland vs. Portugal – Sunday June 12

Group 2’s other June 12 fixture will be an intriguing one. Switzerland go into it off the back of hosting Spain on June 9, having lost to the Czech Republic in a close encounter in their first game, and been soundly beaten by Portugal in their second.

That first meeting between the Portuguese and the Swiss saw Murat Yakin’s side thoroughly outclassed. William Carvalho opened the scoring after Gregor Kobel spilled Cristiano Ronaldo’s free-kick, then Ronaldo got in on the act with a brace. First he smashed the ball home from Diogo Jota’s smart cut-back as Portugal hit Switzerland on the break, then he tapped in when Kobel parried Jota’s effort straight to him, before Joao Cancelo finished the scoring, rounding the on-rushing Kobel when Switzerland’s high line was exposed again.

It was also a night of some crunching challenges from both sides and a small second half skirmish, so anyone who believes the UEFA Nations League to be little more than a series of glorified friendlies evidently forgot to tell the players. Some scores may be settled in Geneva.

France vs. Croatia – Monday June 13

There wasn’t much to separate France and Croatia on June 6. Adrian Rabiot put Les Bleus in front before the hour but Andrej Kramaric equalised from the penalty spot with seven minutes to go.

It was a much-changed France side from the XI that lost 2-1 to Denmark days earlier and a sign that perhaps Didier Deschamps is using the Nations League to determine his best team and assess the options at hand. Indeed, it’s now four years since France beat Croatia in the 2018 World Cup Final and a new generation is banging at the coach’s door.

Milan’s Mike Maignan made his competitive debut in the first game between the countries, as did Matteo Guendouzi, William Saliba and Christopher Nkunku. Boubacar Kamara also made his national team bow, entering the action as a half-time substitute. All signs point to France using the Nations League as a platform to assess where their squad stands ahead of the World Cup when they go to Qatar looking to retain the trophy, and the Croatia rematch will be another stern examination.

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One Comment on “7 more must-see Nations League games on Premier Sports in June”

  1. For me, international football consists of the World Cup, continental cups, and their respective qualifiers. Yet the past few years there have been new competitions and glorified friendlies. I find many aspects of international football weird but hopefully someone can help explain them to me.

    1-Why do friendly goals (against hand-picked opposition) count as official goals for players?
    2- Were the extra expanded Copa America in 2016 and the Italy-Argentina Finalissima made for Messi’s sake?
    3-What is the format and purpose of the Nations League?

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