The inaugural UEFA Nations League is finally here – international football is finally back after the beautiful World Cup – so what better to do that simulate the fuck out of it? Of course, I’m not a maniac, I’m only doing League A and the final tournament, not spending my precious time simulating Kazakhstan v Andorra and Azerbaijan v Malta.
So, for anybody who reads the Betting Spreadsheet each week, you can find the winner of this simulation on there very soon.
For this simulation I will be using FIFA Road to World Cup ’98, as very little games include the likes of Iceland.
Group 1: Netherlands 12pts, Germany 6pts, France 0pts
France capitulated thanks to a late goal in the opener away at Germany and immediately went three goals down at home to Netherlands. They were unlucky in their third match at home to Germany, a third successive loss which eliminated them from the competition and confirmed third spot. Netherlands were in imperious form, putting three past both their opposition in the first two games. A third win ensured a Germany win by 3 goals was needed in their final game in Germany for them to lose top spot. Germany went down to 10 men early on and toiled to a 4-0 defeat.
Group 2: Belgium 10pts, Switzerland 5pts, Iceland 1pts
Belgium destroyed group 2 right from the off. Of course, it helped that Switzerland and Iceland took points off each other whilst Belgium scraped through wins over Iceland. The telling match was a 3-1 hammering of Switzerland at home. They were held in Switzerland to a 2-2 draw so could come unstuck in the semi-finals.
Group 3: Portugal 6pts, Italy 5pts, Poland 3pts
The group was bereft of goals, with just 6 goals in as many games. Poland netted just the one but it would be the goal to ultimately eliminate Italy due to their final loss against Portugal. Portugal’s 83rd minute winning goal in Rome left them needing to avoid defeat at home to Poland in the final match to qualify for the semi-finals. Unsurprisingly considering the group, it finished 0-0 and Portugal claimed top spot with six points from four games.
Group 4: Spain 7pts, Croatia 7pts, England 2pts
Spain started the group phase off well, holding England at the death in the opener before beating Croatia at home. Croatia would be held by England 0-0 in Zagreb whilst Spain secured a one-goal win over England. Due to Croatia’s 2-0 defeat in Spain, they needed to overturn that deficit in their penultimate match at home to Spain and get a win in England. Croatia could only manage a 1-0 victory at home to Spain, rendering their 2-1 win at Wembley useless.
Semi-Finals: Netherlands 2-1 Spain, Belgium 0-2 Portugal, Final: Netherlands 0-0 Portugal (3-4 on pens)
Spain were fairly rampant in a tough opening group and went ahead on 12 minutes through Raul [let’s just call him Diego Costa] and led at the half-time break. The second half they were sent in a tailspin by goals from Marc Overmars [Memphis Depay?] and Dennis Bergkamp [Justin Kluivert?] in the final 25 minutes. Netherlands had recovered from the disgrace of not qualifying for the previous two tournaments to make the final of the Nations League. Portugal had things a lot easier with World Cup bronze medallists Belgium, two goals from Cristiano Ronaldo [for example] and raced into their second major tournament final in three years.
Just like Portugal’s previous major tournament final, the match was settled beyond the 90th minute. The final went all the way to penalties where Portugal prevailed, winning 4-3 in the shootout.