Tuesday’s soccer news starts with a comparison between the Concacaf and UEFA Nations Leagues, focusing on the teams in World Cup group B. While the USMNT prepares for Grenada and El Salvador, England and Wales face a different level in Europe.
England is in action later today in the UEFA Nations League at Germany and hosting Italy on Saturday. They opened Nations League play at Hungary on Saturday, losing 1-0. Wales started their Nations League run with a 2-1 loss at Poland on June 1 before switching focus to World Cup qualifying. They return to the Nations League on Wednesday hosting the Netherlands, then Belgium on Saturday, and finish out five-game window at the Netherlands on June 14.
UEFA is also spending the September window playing Nations League games. England is at Italy and hosts Germany, while Wales plays at Belgium and hosts Poland. Concacaf isn’t scheduling Nations League games in September, with their World Cup participants scheduling friendlies.
What that creates is a different runway in advance of the World Cup. While it’s hard to draw a straight line between the September window and the start of the World Cup two months later, there’s at least the perception that higher quality opponents might help. There’s less chance of surprises when tactics need to work against top-tier teams at World Cup level.
This time around, there are no pre-World Cup friendlies or a send-off series, changing the scope and the preparation for the competition.
“I think it’s a great measure for us,” England manager Gareth Southgate told the Football Association’s website about the Germany game. “This will be a brilliant test of what we’re about and where we’re at. It won’t define where we’re at in six months’ time if we win… and it doesn’t mean we are going to win the whole thing in five, six months.”
Southgate’s point should resonate for every team preparing for a unique World Cup. Regardless of strength of schedule, we simply don’t know what will or won’t help in advance of Qatar 2022.
Moving to Major League Soccer, the New England Revolution announced a deal to send Adam Buksa to RC Lens in Ligue 1. the Boston Globe’s Frank Dell’Apa reported that the deal is worth $10m for New England. The Ligue 1 transfer window opens on June 10, meaning the Revolution will return from the June international break without Buksa and with goalkeeper Matt Turner available for one more MLS game before joining Arsenal.
WEDNESDAY’S SOCCER TV
Cup of Nations qualifiers on beIN Sport: Tanzania vs Algeria at 12pm and Sudan vs Congo DR at 3pm. UEFA Nations League on FS1: Belgium vs Poland at 2:45pm ET.
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