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Return of national service gives us a little of what we’ve been missing | Jonathan Liew

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A confusing 18-month international tournament is a welcome sign of normality returning during the pandemic

It’s here: the second wave. A modified, mutated and more complex strain of the first, sweeping across an unprepared continent with devastating speed, raising the obvious question of whether more could have been done in advance to prevent it. The only saving grace, perhaps, is that the new outbreak of Uefa’s Nations League competition appears to be far less contagious than its predecessor.

The original version, won in 2019 by Portugal (a fact I looked up so you didn’t have to), was conceived by Michel Platini as a convoluted way of ensuring more competitive international fixtures: more of the games you love, in a format you’ll hate. Now comes its rejigged successor, swollen from 142 to 170 matches and bearing a subtly different burden: rallying a sceptical public to the cause of international football in a world of closed borders and confinement.

Continue reading…A confusing 18-month international tournament is a welcome sign of normality returning during the pandemicIt’s here: the second wave. A modified, mutated and more complex strain of the first, sweeping across an unprepared continent with devastating speed, raising the obvious question of whether more could have been done in advance to prevent it. The only saving grace, perhaps, is that the new outbreak of Uefa’s Nations League competition appears to be far less contagious than its predecessor.The original version, won in 2019 by Portugal (a fact I looked up so you didn’t have to), was conceived by Michel Platini as a convoluted way of ensuring more competitive international fixtures: more of the games you love, in a format you’ll hate. Now comes its rejigged successor, swollen from 142 to 170 matches and bearing a subtly different burden: rallying a sceptical public to the cause of international football in a world of closed borders and confinement. Continue reading…