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Nations League - Football: What we learned

15 June 2022 06:33:35 EST
 Holland are on the up with Louis van Gaal

With the latest group of Nations League fixtures completed, it's time to look back on what we have learned about some of the national sides in the build-up to the World Cup in Qatar.

The tournament gets underway on 21st November and while there are more Nations League games scheduled for September to help with preparation, is their enough time for certain coaches to solve their issues?

Experimentation hasn't worked for Southgate

After a shock 4-0 defeat at the hands of Hungary at Molineux on Tuesday night, England's disappointing run of Nations League games ended on a particularly low note.

Manager Gareth Southgate has looked to give fringe players a chance to impress over recent weeks and stake a claim for a place in the World Cup squad this winter.

Few have really stood up to be counted and the Three Lions now sit rock bottom of League A Group 3 with just two points to show for their efforts after four games.

With relegation in that competition a real possibility, England's lack of attacking threat will be a real cause for concern for Southgate, his side failing to score from open play in their four games this month.

Only Harry Kane, 8.00 for the Golden Boot, found the back of the net in a 1-1 draw against Germany, with the skipper scoring from the penalty spot.

Although experimentation took place with the personnel, it was still a familiar system adopted by Southgate over the four games and it's one that has seen the goals dry up.

The Three Lions are firm favourites to progress from their World Cup group this winter, as they face Iran, United States and Wales.

England, who are 6.50 to win the World Cup, will have learned some tough lessons from their Nations League exploits this month.

Southgate will be hoping the recent blip came at the right time and was a useful chapter in this team's development. We will only know after Qatar.

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Back to the drawing board for the Azzurri

While England have toiled in Group 3, European champions Italy have also found life tough after the high of winning Euro 2020 last summer.

The Three Lions and Azzurri battled it out at Wembley for the title but now both teams appear to be shadows of their former selves.

Scraping a home win over Hungary was the only win Italy had to show for their efforts over their last four outings.

A 5-2 thrashing on the road in Germany on Tuesday night was the latest setback and shows how far the European champions have fallen since their success last summer.

Having failed to secure a place at the World Cup in Qatar, manager Roberto Mancini has gone from the talk of the town to the whisper of the village.

The former Manchester City manager is under pressure in his position and it remains to be seen if he will be given the responsibility of trying to take the Azzurri to the next European Championships in 2024.

Danes the dark horses for Qatar

While some European heavyweights have seen a downturn in fortunes, Denmark are certainly a team on the rise.

Despite a home defeat to Croatia, wins on the road in France and Austria, along with another victory over the Austrians in Copenhagen, has represented a positive month for the Scandinavians.

The return of midfielder Christian Eriksen has given all the Denmark squad a lift and after reaching the last four at Euro 2020, they look like they can head into the World Cup as candidates to go far in the competition.

Already showing they can overcome the French, the Danes also face Tunisia and Australia in Group D in Qatar.

Denmark are 6.00 shots to reach the semi-finals in Qatar and outsiders at 29.00 to win the tournament.

Keep an eye on the Dutch

Another team to keep an eye on in Qatar after their recent exploits in the Nations League are Holland, who finished their games this month with a 3-2 win over Wales.

Three victories and a draw represent another positive month for Louis van Gaal's side as they build momentum ahead of the World Cup.

A 4-1 dismantling of Belgium in Brussels was the highlight and certainly a statement that this Dutch side are not to be taken lightly at the major tournament this winter.

In a group that includes Senegal, Ecuador and hosts Qatar, the Netherlands will be highly confident of topping the pool and progressing further into the knockout stages.

With the experienced Van Gaal in the dugout, the Oranje are 13.00 to lift the World Cup for the first time in their history this year.

The Nations League has helped build up a picture of how some of the big teams are developing ahead of Qatar 2022.

Some teams are going along nicely, while others have work to do.

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