Is the UEFA Nations League really a good idea for modern football?
The first ever UEFA Nations League fixtures took place during this international break, but while the tournament has plenty of advantages for modern football, there are also a lot of disadvantages that could harm club football all together.
1. New competitive edge
The tournament gives a certain edge to the previously meaningless international friendlies, with plenty of teams wanting to do well and impress in the competition. Previously, international friendlies were only there in order to maintain stability in the team and to help newer players adapt to the international stage. Now, this competition will retain most of those benefits, whilst also increasing the competitiveness in the squad in order for them to do well.
2. The tournament offers smaller nations a chance
With the groups being distributed according to the UEFA coefficient rankings, the fixtures played will be more balanced than ever. This shall offer several smaller countries the opportunity to get some points against national teams of the same stature, thus removing those needless high-scoring matches that would only hinder the confidence of the small nations.
3. A different route to EURO 2020
This advantage goes with the one before, as the winners of the competition shall be granted one of the final places of EURO 2020. This will greatly increase the chances for a small nation to go to one of the biggest competitions on the international stage. This will go along with the usual EURO qualifiers, thus making it even more possible for several countries to experience their first ever major tournament. Apart from this, the stronger national teams that somehow did not manage to qualify for EURO 2020, will have a second chance to qualify through this competition, in order to avoid the upset of not participating in the major tournament.
1. Hinders club football
The new competitive edge will have a large effect on the quality of club football altogether. With several nations taking these fixtures more seriously than ever before, they will start fielding more and more top players in their starting lineups. Due to this, several players will be playing matches continuously with any sort of break during the season, as they would be needed both on a club level and on an international level. This will start to decrease the quality of football in all aspects, as several players already play more than fifty games a season with their club, hence they will be suffering from exhaustion and fatigue with the added matches from international football.
2. Needless injuries
This point coincides with the previous one, as several clubs will suffer from much more needless injuries due to the fact that their star players will be playing more and more for their respective countries as they will be needed much more than before. To go along with this, the new competitive edge will also entice players to try and give their all in the matches much more than before, and this will result in much more tackles and contact that could result in an increase in injuries from international matches. A clear example of this being England's Luke Shaw getting a head injury against Spain that could hinder the top form that he was in.
3. Tighter schedule
Footballers are constantly working without any real break during the season nowadays, and yes it is important for them to continue working on, but they need some sort of break as they are humans after all. The new competitiveness that has resulted due to the new format, will encourage national sides to pick their best players, and this will only make the players' already packed schedule even worse. Due to this heavily packed schedule, players will become more enticed to retire early from international football in order to simply focus on their club careers, which after all, makes perfect sense if you are being over-worked during the season.