International men’s football: talking points from the week’s action

Nations League positives for Portugal and even England, dismay for David de Gea and Kosovo’s Euro 2020 qualifying joy

The numbed anticlimax of Sunday’s third-place play-off ensured the lingering impression of England’s Nations League campaign was one of deflation, as if any hint of progress over the last year had been a mirage. In truth, it was hard to gauge improvements given the disruptions caused by the Champions League and Europa League finals. There were promising passages in each game and periods when the team rather lost their way. But development could be measured in the impact made by Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez, or by Jadon Sancho and Declan Rice in flashes. Another semi-final was lost but a second successive penalty shootout was won. The squad unity that had been a feature at the World Cup was maintained, with an injection of youth offering promise for the future. This all felt more of a useful exercise than the alternative: two Euro 2020 qualifiers against whipping boys. Dominic Fifield

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