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UEFA Nations League: France fall to Denmark in World Cup preview

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By Doug McIntyre
FOX Sports activities Soccer Author

Croatia and the Netherlands turned the primary groups to advance to subsequent 12 months’s UEFA Nations League finals, whereas issues went from unhealthy to worse for the World Cup champions.

France, the defending Nations League and world champs, turned the most recent elite European crew to succumb to a supposedly lesser foe in a 72-hour span, shedding to Denmark 2-0 Sunday in Copenhagen. England, Germany and Spain have been additionally defeated in latest days.

The DenmarkFrance bout was considered one of 4 marquee encounters that kicked off the ultimate match day of round-robin play in League A, and the motion definitely didn’t disappoint. With simply two days remaining within the group stage, let’s get caught up.

In a World Cup preview, Denmark stuns reeling France once more

“Stuns” most likely isn’t the fitting phrase. It’s not as if Les Bleus had been any good at any level on this Nations League marketing campaign — not that that’s even France’s predominant concern. With lower than two months to go till their title protection begins at Qatar 2022, Didier Deschamps’s squad is within the throes of a depressing 1W-3L-2T run.

Sunday’s defeat to Denmark was France’s second in opposition to the Danes, considered one of their three first spherical foes on the World Cup, within the 2022-23 Nations League. Le Bleus solely win within the competitors got here final week in opposition to now-relegated Austria, which misplaced 3-1 at house to Croatia on Sunday. That’s not a superb signal for France — which, to be truthful, is with out quite a lot of surefire starters this month due to harm — and their probabilities of changing into simply the third nation (after Italy and Brazil) to repeat as champs at a males’s World Cup.

Deschamps nonetheless has arguably the deepest participant pool on the planet to select from. He nonetheless has Kylian Mbappe, who virtually modified the guests fortunes by himself on Sunday, solely to be denied twice by Danish backstop Kasper Schmeichel.

If France can’t discover one other gear when the World Cup begins it received’t be for an absence of expertise. The extra probably offender would be the kind of off-field drama that already is threatening to derail their marketing campaign weeks out from the principle occasion.

France didn’t win a recreation in 2002 or 2010 after reaching the ultimate of the earlier World Cup on every event. Each occasions, infighting contributed to their demise.

Additionally drawn alongside Australia and Tunisia for Qatar 2022, their group is manageable it doesn’t matter what occurs subsequent outing in opposition to the Danes. You may nonetheless guess that Denmark  can be licking their chops earlier than that Nov. 26 rematch on the worldwide stage.

Netherlands maintain off Belgium  

It was all the time unrealistic to count on Belgium to beat the Dutch 3-0 in Amsterdam, which is what the Purple Devils wanted to do to leapfrog the Oranje atop the Group 4 standings and qualify for subsequent June’s ultimate 4.

The guests can maintain their heads excessive regardless of Sunday’s 1-0 loss. Belgium had greater than sufficient possibilities to attain a number of objectives within the first half Sunday however simply couldn’t discover the goal. The match was deadlocked all the way in which till the 73rd minute, when Netherlands defender Virgil van Dijk nodded house the eventual winner.

Together with their delight, the Belgians practically salvaged a degree within the closing seconds, too However substitute Dodi Lukebakio’s spectacular overhead kick — actually the final kick of the match — crashed in opposition to the hosts’ crossbar. It was that sort of day for the guests, who can now flip their full consideration to Qatar.

Robert Lewandowski and Poland greatest Gareth Bale’s Wales 

With each Poland and Wales each World Cup-bound and going through potential Nations League relegation relying on the end result of this match, depth wasn’t going to be a difficulty.

So it was Sunday in Cardiff within the two sides ultimate tune-up earlier than Qatar. The matchup was understandably billed as a battle between every crew’s respective famous person. However the MLS ahead who scored the game-winning strike wasn’t LAFC’s Bale. It was Charlotte’s Karol Swiderski, who transformed the one objective the guests would wish off a move from Lewandowski.

The loss despatched Wales – which meets the United Sates Nov. 21 in its first World Cup recreation in 64 years – right down to League B for the subsequent version of the Nations League.


Luka Modrić, Croatia clinch semifinal place 

Croatia wasn’t supposed to achieve the ultimate of the final World Cup. No person thinks they will get that far on this one, both — not with Modrić, their midfield talisman, having turned 37 earlier this month.

But Croatia simply retains profitable, and Modrić, who in 2018 received the Ballon d’Or award given to the sport’s greatest participant, is presently in among the most dazzling type of his profession. The Actual Madrid playmaker scored the opener simply 5 minutes into Sunday’s contest in Vienna.

On the very least, the Croatians now know that they may have the chance to play for silverware subsequent summer season. Are in addition they reputable World Cup contenders? Hey, Modrić & Co. have confirmed the doubters improper earlier than.

One of many main soccer journalists in North America, Doug McIntyre has coated United States males’s and ladies’s nationwide groups at a number of FIFA World Cups. Earlier than becoming a member of FOX Sports activities in 2021, he was a workers author with ESPN and Yahoo Sports activities. Observe him on Twitter @ByDougMcIntyre.

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