The Best XI of the Nations League Finals: One Italian Makes the Cut

The second edition of the UEFA Nations League came to an end with France beating Spain 2-1 in the final at San Siro. Luis Enrique’s side opened the scoring thanks to Mikel Oyarzabal before Karim Benzema almost immediately equalized through a fantastic strike.

A late winner from Kylian Mbappé saw Les Bleus win the Nations League. However, Spain have certainly proved that they are a team that will contend for future tournaments given the squad they’ve got.

Hosts Italy finished third by defeating Belgium 2-1 in Turin thanks to goals from Nicolò Barella and Domenico Berardi.

We witnessed some brilliant performances during the Nations League Finals and now it’s time to reveal the Team of the Tournament.

GK- Hugo Lloris

The 34-year-old may not be at his finest now but is still very much capable of bailing out France when needed. Lloris has a knack for making crucial saves and did exactly that for Les Bleus during the Nations League Finals.

In the semi-final against Belgium, he denied Kevin de Bruyne twice through two magnificent saves in either half.

Yesterday, while Lloris gave away the ball a few times, he also turned up in crunch situations. The French captain made two very important saves towards the end of the game to deny Spain and make sure his team held on to their 2-1 lead.

Probably the most underrated goalkeeper of his generation.

CB- Jules Koundé

The Sevilla centre-back produced a magnificent performance in the semi-finals against Belgium, with some crucial tackles and interceptions. He also had a passing accuracy of 100%.

Kounde could have done better in the final and was fortunate enough not to concede a penalty. However, he still managed to make more interceptions than any other player, along with four clearances.

France have some pretty good centre-back options at present and Kounde is not far away from cementing his place in Didier Deschamps’ starting XI, especially if he prefers a three-man defence.

CB-  Alessandro Bastoni

The only Italian player in this team, Bastoni had a good competition on an overall basis. He could have done in the semi-final against Spain but was absolutely outstanding in the third-place playoff against Belgium.

Looked solid on the pitch, made five clearances, four blocks and two interceptions, not to forget a passing accuracy of 97.9%.

Bastoni is certainly the future of Italian defence and we could well see him start in the upcoming World Cup. The 22-year-old has been brilliant for Inter and will only get better.

CB- Presnel Kimpembe

The PSG centre-back did not play in the semi-final against Belgium but started in yesterday’s final and put in a solid performance.

Throughout the match, Kimpembe very good aerially and made five tackles which was more than any other player on the pitch. He made life very difficult for the likes of Ferran Torres and Mikel Oyarzabal.

RWB- Cesar Azpilicueta 

None of the right-backs/right wing-backs from any of the four teams were spectacular throughout the Nations League Finals but all-in-all, Cesar Azpilicueta did fairly well.

The Chelsea captain was solid at the back while often making runs forward even though he wasn’t too influential in that regard.

Azpilicueta has pretty much made the right-back spot his own in the national team and we could well see him starting in what could be his last World Cup next year.

CM- Kevin de Bruyne

The Manchester City man was Belgium’s best player of the competition without a shadow of a doubt. De Bruyne was always involved in his team’s attacks while also dropping deep to help defensively.

In the semi-final, the 30-year-old often threatened the French defence and Lloris was forced to make a couple of good saves to deny him. He gave the assist for both of Belgium’s goals.

De Bruyne came on as a substitute in the third place playoff and had instant impact as he was the provider for his team’s goal.

He eventually finished with three assists, the most for any player in the Nations League Finals. Not to forget, this came from a supposedly half-fit De Bruyne.

CM- Sergio Busquets

The Barcelona star still has a lot left in his tank and produced an outstanding performance for Spain from midfield.

Busquets was magnificent in the middle of the park and while helping defensively, he also got involved in attacks and provided the assist for La Roja‘s opening goal in the final.

Got a consolation prize by being adjudged the Player of the Tournament

CM- Paul Pogba

The 28-year-old has always delivered for France and did the same during the Nations League Finals. Pogba helped Les Bleus dominate in midfield, particularly in the final against Spain. He played number of passes forward, amassing a total of four key passes throughout the competition.

A major reason behind France winning the Nations League.

LWB- Theo Hernandez

As far as full-backs/wing-backs are concerned, there was no one better than the AC Milan man. Hernandez was industrious all throughout the competition, aiding France defensively and offensively.

The 24-year-old was impressive in both of Les Bleus’ fixtures and could not have found a better time for his maiden international goal, netting late against Belgium.

Hernandez should have had a second in the final but unfortunately, he hit the crossbar. However, he ended up providing the assist for the winning.

CF- Karim Benzema

Like a fine wine, Benzema is only getting better with age and has been exceptionally consistent for club and country. The 33-year-old was always looking to threaten the opposition defence and ended up scoring two spectacular goals.

His screamer in the final has been nominated for the tournament’s best goal and has a fair chance of winning the award. One might also argue that Benzema should have been adjudged the Player of the Tournament.

Had the 33-year-old not been absent from the national team for so long, he probably would have bettered Thierry Henry’s scoring record by now.

CF- Kylian Mbappé

The 22-year-old has forged a pretty solid partnership with Benzema up front and the duo were magnificent during the Nations League Finals. Mbappé had a goal and an assist in each of France’s matches during the competition.

The PSG star demolished the demons of Euro 2020 by scoring the tournament-winning goal for Les Bleus. 

Mbappé was the joint-top scorer of the competition with two goals but ended up winning the Golden Boot because of having two assists.

Honorable Mentions- Aymeric Laporte, Marcos Alonso, Nicolò Barella, Gavi, Mikel Oyarzabal, Ferran Torres, Federico Chiesa