Nations League Round 3 Recap: A Ronaldo – Mbappé Stalemate

If you were expecting drama, you should have missed the Round 3 of the UEFA Nations League fixtures this weekend. The status quo remained the same with plenty of tied games across the board. This is not to say there weren’t any interesting movements in the different groups’ points table.

Group 1 of League A was a wash. Bosnia Herzegovina took on the challenge of the Oranje at the Bilino Polje Stadium. The Dutchman had the bulk of possession and scoring chances but could not pierce their rival’s defenses. It ended all square 0-0, with both teams sharing the points.

A similar result was witnessed in Poland as Roberto Mancini, and his men traveled to the Stadion Energa Gdansk. The Polish side kept the Azzurri at bay but failed to conjure any attack of substance. The Italians could not complain about the result with little to show for themselves. The points table remains unchanged; Italy is at the top, followed by Netherlands and Poland in the battle for pole position.

In Group B, it was a clash of the titans as England took on the challenge of Belgium with bragging rights on offer. The Red Devils are ranked first in FIFA’s rankings, while the English are three places behind in the fourth position. None of that mattered on the pitch as Gareth Southgate’s men took the three points on offer.

Belgium took the lead through a Romelu Lukaku penalty in the 16th minute but failed to add to their tally in this evenly contested fixture. Marcus Rashford nullified his former Manchester United teammate’s effort to finish the first-half 1-1. The winner came through the boots of Chelsea youngster, Mason Mount, whose deflected effort was enough to go past Simon Mignolet.

In the other match, Iceland took on Denmark. Simon Kjær and co. were ruthless in their approach as they dominated the proceedings. An own goal from Runar Mar Sigurjonsson followed by the second-half strikes by Christian Eriksen and Robert Skov ensured a comfortable 0-3 win. England is at the top with 7 points, followed by Belgium a-point behind. The Danes have four to their names, while Iceland has yet to open their account.

There was finally some good news for Croatia fans after Group C matches concluded. The perennial dark horses of European football were made punching bags by France and Portugal in the opening two rounds, but they rallied to defeat Sweden at the Stadion Maksimir. Andrej Kramaric scored a late winner after Nikola Vlasic’s effort was canceled out by Marcus Berg.

In the other group affair, Kylian Mbappe and France welcomed Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal at the Stade de France. It was a cagey affair as both sides were cautious in the attack. The possession stats showed a 50-50 split, just like the points on offer. Both France and Portugal have seven points from their three games, but the Iberian are in pole position with a better goal difference. Meanwhile, Croatia has three points in third place, while Sweden still has nothing to show for.

Group D witnessed wins for Spain and Germany. La Roja were made to work for their 1-0 win by Switzerland. Mikel Oyarzabal scored in the opening quarter-hour to give an exciting start to the fixture. However, Luis Enrique’s failed to add to their tally despite pegging the Swiss on the back foot for the encounter.

Mikel Oyarzabal scored the winner for Spain in their Nations League victory over Switzerland

Joachim Low’s Germany came into the fixture after a tiring 3-3 international friendly with Turkey. They still have enough in the tank to earn a 1-2 win over Ukraine. Goals came courtesy of Matthias Ginter and Leon Goretzka with a Niklas Sule error giving the hosts an entry into the fixture. Ruslan Malinovskyi converted from the spot, but Andriy Shevchenko’s men could not muster anything else of note.

With wins for the top dogs, the standings remain unchanged. Spain is at the top with 7 points while the Germans stay in pursuit with 5 points from their three outings. Ukraine still has a chance in third place and is only two points behind Die Mannschaft. Switzerland is at the bottom of the four-team group with a single point.