England defender Harry Maguire is the first international footballer (to our knowledge) to raise his hand and admit that he hasn’t got the foggiest idea how the UEFA Nations League actually works.
With the Three Lions about to begin their maiden voyage through UEFA’s new against Spain on Saturday, it would appear that a number of the players still don’t fully grasp just what it is they’re playing for.
Speaking to the press ahead of the match, Maguire revealed that several of the squad are still “confused” as to the precise ins and out, despite Gareth Southgate’s best efforts to talk them through it:
It is quite confusing – I don’t know what you guys think of it? The boss tried to explain it to us the best he could the other day. I think he has got his head around it now, but it took a lot of studying.
It is confusing, but we are trying to get our heads round it. For us players, we just go into each game trying to win it and see where it takes us. So we will see after the game.
‘Just go out there and beat Spain and Croatia a bunch of times, Harry. We’ll deal with the rest of it from there.’
Pies have previously attempted to explain the various machinations of UEFA’s new competition but, in all honesty, we don’t think we’ll fully get our heads around it until we’ve been through a full cycle.
It’s convoluted, complicated and sprawling to the point of delirium, but it’s fundamentally designed to cut the number of pointless international friendlies and dull mismatches, which can only be good thing given the dwindling appetite therefor.
Hopefully, the various Nations League contrivances will all make a bit more sense once we’ve all seen it in action.