It’s Italy v Spain, Belgium to Play France in S’finals

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UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE

World Cup holders France will play Belgium in the semifinals of the UEFA Nations League following Thursday’s draw for the final stages of the tournament.

Finals hosts Italy will play Spain in the other semifinal tie, with the matches being staged on 6 and 7 October, 2021, European football’s governing body announced.

Italy were earlier on Thursday confirmed as the hosts by UEFA for the finals of the tournament which was delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Games will be staged at the Juventus Stadium in Turin and the San Siro in Milan, with the final and third-place playoff on Sunday, 10 October.

Portugal hosted and won the inaugural Nations League finals in 2019, beating the Netherlands 1-0 in the final in Porto.

Meanwhile, with three World Cup winners and his own top-ranked Belgian team qualifying for the final four, Roberto Martinez believes the Nations League is fast becoming an estimable part of the football calendar.

“This is only the second edition but when you look at the teams in the final four, this has quickly become a prestigious competition,” said the Belgium coach after his country beat Denmark 4-2 in Leuven to win their group and advance to next October’s semi finals.

“It’s a tournament with quality of opponents that you want to be facing, with a semifinal and final against these sorts of teams,” Martinez said.

“For us, these are games that we need. You only get these kind of knockout games in big tournaments, so I’m a big fan of this competition.”

Martinez also said the qualifying process, which squeezed six games into a three-month period, allowed teams to build consistency but also bring in new players.

The Nations League was designed for international match days when there are no World Cup or European Championship qualifiers, which were previously filled with inconsequential friendlies.