November 19 – Belgium and Italy completed the line-up for the Nations League’s final four on Wednesday with wins against Denmark and Bosnia and Herzegovina respectively. They will meet Spain and France in October 2021 to decide the winner of the tournament’s second edition.
In Leuven, the Belgians ran out comfortable 4-2 winners against a well-organized but ultimately impotent Denmark. Youri Tielemans handed the hosts an early lead, confirming his fine form with the national team, but Jonas Wind equalised in the 17th minute with a header from close range.
Inter Milan’s Romelu Lukaku however decided the match with the next two goals for Roberto Martinez’s eleven. The striker was the most vocal player on the pitch and often tried to connect with Tielemans, who orchestrated Belgium’s play from the midfield. The number one ranked team in the world finished five points clear at the top of League A Group 2 to book their place for the final four.
Italy’s dominance in Group 1 was less pronounced, even if they remained invincible throughout their Nations League group stage campaign, extending their unbeaten run to 22 games with a 2-0 win in Bosnia and Herzegovina. They topped the group on 12 points, a point ahead of the Netherlands who defeated Poland 1-2 away.
Andrea Belloti and Domenico Berardi, with a spectacular volley, scored either side of the half for Italy, who were without their coach Roberto Mancini after he tested positive for Covid-19.
Italy were the last team to qualify for the final four with the Nations League destined to have a new winner in its second edition as all of Portugal, England, Netherlands and Switzerland failed to make the semi-finals.
Participation ensures the four FAs at least €5 million euros in income, with €2.5 million as bonus for qualification and €2.5 million for the team that finishes fourth.
Italy is in pole position to stage the mini-tournament. In September, UEFA confirmed that Italy, Poland and the Netherlands had all expressed an interest in hosting. The European governing body will take a final decision next month. Portugal were the hosts in 2019 and the defending European champions triumphed on home soil defeating the Netherlands 1-0 in the final.
Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1611452449labto1611452449ofdlr1611452449owedi1611452449sni@o1611452449fni1611452449