The 2nd edition of the UEFA Nations League has kicked off. Whether you like the competition or not it seems here to stay. True it is better than a flurry of friendly games but it is also wrapped up in a mire of complexes and rules. Still if we stick to the basics that at one point next year the competition will form into a straight knock out tournament we should be fine.
Whilst the opening games are being played now, bear a thought that the actual final isn't scheduled to be played until October 2021. This is because of the delayed European Championships, which of course will now take place next summer. Apart from fewer games spread over less time, is there a huge difference between each competition?
Anyway the holders Portugal have got off to a solid start winning their first two games and that man Cristiano Ronaldo has just broken another record. He has now scored 101 goals for Portugal, which is the record for a European based player. Indeed no other European player has scored more than 100 goals. That seems remarkable until you realise that there are double sometimes triple the amount of international games played now than there were in the days of Pele and Gerd Muller. Ronaldo holds the record, but games to goals ratio he doesn't, although it's still far better than Lionel Messi's, but we wont get into that debate here.
England have been poor in their first two games; getting a lucky win (by manager Gareth Southgate's admission) against Iceland, winning 1-0 via a penalty, and then drawing 0-0 away to Denmark in a dire match. However the same old tired off the field news has overshadowed both games. First it was captain Harry Maguire's drunken punch up in Greece and last week an orgy involving Phil Foden, Mason Greenwood and two Icelandic women in England's hotel room, dear oh dear. The same old problems remain for England, and the players go back to their domestic leagues in shame. As for Southgate he's played it down well enough but he must be wondering has anything changed from the days of when he was a player for the national side? It seems that professionalism has deserted some players yet again.
In some transfer news the big name that will be officially appearing in the Premier League this season is James Rodriguez who has signed for Everton. Manager Carlo Ancelotti is really trying to re work his midfield and James could well be a fantastic capture. The pair know each other well as Ancelotti has worked with James at Real Madrid. Arsenal are still wondering when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will sign his extended contract. This has been on going since the beginning of the year. Aubameyang himself gave a strong hint almost a month ago on Twitter that he would sign, but pardon the pun there is still no sign of this. One has to wonder just how committed Aubameyang is to the club, or are the club not meeting something in his contract. The Gunners will have to bend if so, because they desperately need him for next season and beyond.
The Premier League kicks off this weekend. The first game will be on Saturday lunchtime between Fulham and Arsenal, which should be an absorbing London derby. Later that day champions Liverpool will take on Leeds who are finally back in the top flight. Sunday's pick will be Tottenham v Everton but let's hope this game has more zip about it than the last time the clubs met in the summer, which was not an encounter to remember.