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Heavyweight line-up fuels Nations League anticipation

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Hosts Italy are looking to add the Nations League to their EURO crown in a mouth-watering four-team final tournament also featuring France, Spain and Belgium.

Giorgio Chiellini of Italy speaks with Spain's Sergio Busquets during the UEFA EURO 2020 semi-final
Giorgio Chiellini of Italy speaks with Spain's Sergio Busquets during the UEFA EURO 2020 semi-final UEFA via Getty Images

With a cast list that includes EURO 2020 winners Italy and reigning world champions France as well as a backdrop of two of calcio’s most famed cities, the upcoming UEFA Nations League finals promise plenty for European football fans.

How to buy tickets

This second edition of the Nations League finals runs from 6-10 October and evokes the early years of the EURO – an attractive, highly competitive four-team showpiece comprising semi-finals, final and match for third place. Along with Italy and France, the other sides to have won through to the last four are Belgium, the No1 team in FIFA’s world ranking, and Spain, who ended EURO 2020 as its 13-goal joint-highest scorers alongside the Azzurri. The presence of these four heavyweights bodes well for the spectacle in store.

The Nations League final four

The tournament will kick off on Wednesday 6 October with Italy v Spain and then continues the following evening with Belgium v France. Both contests have added spice for being reruns of recent semi-finals elsewhere: Spain will seek to avenge their loss to Italy in a Wembley semi-final shoot-out at EURO 2020 while for Roberto Martínez’s Belgium this is the chance to soften the memory of their 2018 FIFA World Cup semi-final reverse against Les Bleus in Russia.

Will home advantage prove decisive for the European champions?

For Italy, it is the first opportunity to host a senior men’s national-team tournament since Italia ’90. Milan and Turin both staged some unforgettable contests then and the two cities will play their part once more: San Siro will welcome Italy and Spain for the first semi-final and then host the final on Sunday 10 October; in between, Turin will provide the setting for Belgium v France and the match for third place on the afternoon of the 10th.

Home advantage is one added reason to expect the spotlight to shine brightly on Roberto Mancini’s Italy as they look to prolong their world record-breaking 37-game unbeaten run and add a first Nations League title to the Henri Delaunay Trophy they collected in July. The Azzurri last won a tournament on home soil when winning the UEFA European Championship in Rome in 1968. Intriguingly, the final will be played three years to the day since their unbeaten run began.

Nations League finals: Lukaku v Mbappé

Goals guaranteed?

Of the other contenders, Didier Deschamps’ France were the team who qualified with the most points – winning five and drawing one of their six games in a group containing holders Portugal, Croatia and Sweden. Belgium, for their part, won five of their six fixtures in a section featuring Denmark, England and Iceland, scoring 16 goals along the way. The fact that Luis Enrique’s Spain were the second-most prolific qualifiers, a 6-0 rout of Germany taking their goal tally to 13, raises the prospect that this Nations League edition can maintain the high scoring rate seen at EURO 2020, which produced 2.79 goals per match.

Whatever the outcome, there will be a new name on the honours list to add to that of Portugal, who beat the Netherlands 1-0 in the first Nations League final in Porto in 2019.

Be there to see it

Nations League finals host cities

Fans looking to attend matches will find tickets are still available for purchase. Those ticket reserved for the general public are being sold on a first-come, first-served basis with fans allowed to buy up to two tickets per person. There is affordable pricing in place with tickets ranging in cost from €10 (category 3) to €40 (category 1) in Turin, and from €10 to €70 in Milan. Accessibility tickets for disabled spectators are available for €10 (ticket priced at Category 3 rate with one companion ticket provided for free).

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