Switzerland v Spain, Portugal v Czech Republic: Nations League – live! | Nations League

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In Lisbon, Portugal are pushing the pace, but have yet to create anything serious.

GOAL! Greece 1-0 Cyprus (Bakasetas 8)

The home side lead in the derby!

I think Sarabia was a fraction off, but VAR reckons not. I don’t know, I don’t think anyone knows anything anymore, and I’m happy to go with the on-pitch decision or give the attacker the benefit of the doubt when it’s that close.

But was Sarabia offside? VAR is investigating…

GOAL! Switzerland 0-1 Spain (Sarabia 14)

Spain do really well to win it high up and Llorente marches onto the ball superbly, squares, and Sarabia slides in!

See also  European roundup: Giroud sends Milan top as Barcelona’s Depay grabs late win | European club football

GOAL! Kosov 1-0 Northern Ireland (Muriqi pen 9)

Davis catches Rashica and Muriqi tucks the penalty away!

Vedat Muriqi beats Peacock-Farrell.
Vedat Muriqi beats Peacock-Farrell. Photograph: Florion Goga/Reuters

In Geneva, Spain have Switzerland pressed back, but when Alba crosses, Sommer collects confidently.

Portugal win a corner, Guedes curls in … and Stanek is positive, coming out to claw away.

Havel bundles through the back of Bernardo Silva, who is apparently wanted by Barcelona – should De Jong depart. I’m not sure quite how that works, given the desire to sell the latter is partly economic and he’s go for less than the former would cost. But he’s a terrific player and would, I’m sure, fit in with how Xavi wants to play.

In Lisbon, William Carvalho of nearly every rich Premier League club but actually of Real Betis has been booked.

Immediately, Spain nash down the right, forcing Switzerland to belt into touch. Andy Hinchcliffe is in co-comms and and he’s fine, but is there really no one with more intel on these two teams?

Away we go!

Email! “The inclusion of Busquets is indeed a cause for celebration of his extraordinary skill (and longevity),” reckons Charles Antaki. Morata not so much; more a resigned acceptance that since the days of David Villa/Fernando Torres the national team hasn’t really had any more truly effective goal-getter. Look at the parade since: Negredo, Alcácer, Diego Costa, Aspas, Moreno … I know that even in their 2008-2012 pomp the team tended to win only by 1-0 when in the final knockings of competitons, but otherwise the goals rained in. Bit of a drizzle these days.”

Diego Costa was proper, but yes, it’s a strange thing. As it goes, there aren’t that many great centre-forwards anywhere, which is why Man United and Liverpool are fighting over Darwin Nunez, though I will say that the problems Spain’s great team had getting goals was partly because opponents had no choice but to sit back and hope for a counter.

Out come the teams in Geneva and Lisbon.

It’s a shame that Pedri is injured, but I also wonder if a summer off might do him good. He played a ludicrous amount of football last season, and need to be better looked after than he was. What a player he’s going to be; what a player he already is.

This is interesting from Rafael van der Vaart:

Van der Vaart: “I will explain to you why Frenkie is so good at the National Team, because he’s the ONLY midfielder with these type of qualities here and he does what he wants. At Barça there is Pedri.. Gavi.. Busquets.. and so on. All of a sudden he starts adjusting again.” pic.twitter.com/zEvwzTmZbV

— 𝐀𝐅𝐂 𝐀𝐉𝐀𝐗 💎 (@TheEuropeanLad) June 9, 2022

Van der Vaart: “At Manchester United it will be just like at the National Team, being the only one with his type of qualities. I would move to Manchester United if I was him, just do it!” pic.twitter.com/kBmdRW74UA

— 𝐀𝐅𝐂 𝐀𝐉𝐀𝐗 💎 (@TheEuropeanLad) June 9, 2022

Van der Vaart: “The Premier League is a heaven for midfielders. Everyone says ‘it’s quick!’ but it only looks like a fast paced game because players lose the ball a lot there. Just look at Bergkamp, you can enjoy yourself there. I enjoyed myself there too.” pic.twitter.com/2e0Ta9Wd4G

— 𝐀𝐅𝐂 𝐀𝐉𝐀𝐗 💎 (@TheEuropeanLad) June 9, 2022

Though, let’s be real, should De Jong move to England and enjoy himself as much as Van der Vaart did, he’d be deemed a failure.

I said Portugal don’t have much pace in midfield – they don’t – but they’ve also not got much pace in attack. It’s so odd when managers forget that fast running is important – it happened to Arsène Wenger towards the end, when he accumulated interchangeable little lads with good technique, none of whom could get on the outside.

Here’s today’s Fiver for your delectation…

I see that in the UK, Nations League games are on yet another different channel. It’s almost funny really, in almost every field of human endeavour, choice is a good thing, but when it comes to watching sport, the consumer needs and deserves a monopoly.

Looking at that Portugal team – and bench – though they were in a difficult group, they really ought to have done better at the Euros. If Mancini manages them, there’s a good chance they win it, and it doesn’t especially look like Fernando Santos is anywhere near finding the answer. Bernardo Silva is wasted on the wing, there’s got to be a place for Bruno Fernandes, and there’s far too little pace in midfield. They should be good enough to win in Qatar too, but they won’t.

I guess that’s a common aspect of genius: simplicity. Roy Keane had a similar trick, turning out of trouble, pivoting by working the outside of his foot around the ball to lose a man. No one could do anything about it, and it set up the brilliance of the passing that followed.

It really is something that in the year 2022, Spain still have Alvaro Morata up front – just as it is that Sergio Busquets is still in midfield. What a player he is and has been, not as feted as Xavi and Iniesta, but close to as good as so important in allowing them to do what they do. Those little Cruyff turns to get out of trouble, so simple yet so difficult.

Switzerland v Spain: teams!

Switzerland: Sommer, Widmer, Akanji, Cumart, Rodriguez, Freuler, Aebischer, Xhaka, Shaqiri, Embolo, Zuber. Subs: Lotomba, Mvogo, Bottani, Kobel, Frei, Gavranovic, Steffen, Okafor, Dow, Mbabu, Seferovic.

Spain: Simon, Azpilicueta, Llorente D, Pau Torres, Alba, Llorente M, Busquets, Gavi, Sarabia, Morata, Torres. Subs: Koke, Rodri, Soler, Fati, Asensio, Olmo, Sanchez, Carvajal, Inigo Martinez, Raya, Garcia, Alonso.

Portugal v Czech Republic: teams!

Portugal: Meireles Costa, Cancelo, Pepe, Pereira, Guerreiro, Guedes, Carvalho, Neves, Ronaldo, Jota, Bernardo Silva. Subs: Monteiro, Palhinha, Carmo, Rui Silva, Leao, Rui Patricio, Valente Silva, Tavares, Dalot, Fernandes, Moutinho, Machado.

Czech Republic: Stanek, Zima, Brabec, Mateju, Coufal, Soucek, Sadilek, Havel, Lingr, Kuchta, Hloze. Subs: Vaclik, Mandous, Zeleny, Pesek, Cerny, Kudela, Kral, Jemelka, Jurecka, Vlkanova, Klavach, Tecl.

Kosovo v Northern Ireland: teams!

Kosovo: Ujkani, Kastrati, Rrahmani, Kryeziu, Rrudhani, Berisha, Dresevic, Muslija, Rashica, Muriqi, Bytyqi. Subs: Kololli, Fazliji, Idrizi, Loshaj, Domgjoni, Zeneli, Bekaj, Sahiti.

Northern Ireland: Peacock-Farrell, Ballard, Evans, Brown, Spencer, McCann, Davis, Saville, McMenamin, Lafferty, Lavery. Subs: Thompson, Southwood, McCalmont, Charles, Boyd-Munce, Carson, Lane, Bradley, Whyte, Donnelly, McGinn, Charles.

Preamble

It’s an amazing thing to say, but after many decades of trying, Uefa finally came up with a decent idea, and the Nations League was it. Yes, it came far too late to save the international game from being devoured by the club version, but it at least saved us from the perpetual purgatory of international friendlies and the 59,037 substitutions that came with them.

So it is than on a Thursday night in June, we’ve actually got some football that’s worth watching, our focus is League A Group 2. Currently, Portugal sit top after drawing in Spain walloping Switzerland, but their visitors tonight, Czech Republic, have four points too having edged Switzerland and also taken a point from Luis Enrique’s men.

That aside, we’ll be keeping tabs on Kosovo v Northern Ireland and Sweden v Serbia, as well as keeping you abreast of all the goals as they go in. And it’s live!

Kick-offs: 7.45pm BST



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