France squeaked by Spain with an 80th-minute goal from Kylian Mbappe securing a trophy for ‘Les Bleus.’
“Honestly, I don’t think they should’ve won, I think Spain should’ve won but that’s how soccer is,” says ‘La Roja’ soccer fan, Enrique Domingo, of Valencia, Spain.
The Nations League is a biennial tournament organized by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) that consists of 54 UEFA national teams.
Portugal won the first Nations League in 2018 but failed to make another final after losing 1-0 to France last November.
Spain and its fans got its revenge on Italy in the Nations League semi-final, beating Italy 2-1. Italy had given Spain the boot in a penalty shootout of the UEFA European Championship last July. The cards seemed to favour Spain, who after knocking out Italy to get to the final.
France had reached the final but just slipping past Belgium in their leg of the semifinal. The French beat Belgium 3-2, with a 90th-minute goal to secure their spot in the final.
Spain’s Mikel Oyarzabal opened up the Nations League final with a goal for ‘La Roja’ in the 64th minute but it was back to level when France’s Karim Benzema scored two minutes later.
The Spanish team dominated possession and passing but could not find the back of the net. With 10 minutes left in the game, Kylian Mbappe who was in an offside position received a pass from Theo Hernandez and stunned Spanish goalkeeper, David De Gea with a slicing goal. Spain’s fans were furious, Mbappe was offside, however, the controversial goal was allowed by the referee because Spanish defender Eric Garcia had accidentally deflected the ball off his heel to continue the play and the referee deemed the play admissible.
Spain’s captain Sergio Busquets says there was no intention for the defender to play it back to the opposing team.
“The referee said that Eric played the ball, and, from that moment, that annulled the offside,” Busquets told Spain’s RTVE (CNN).
This is how the beautiful game works. Although Spain had the possession and passing, it takes one mistake for the game to turn around, says Domingo explaining this is what soccer is now.
“You have one team that is pretty much controlling the game, for 90 minutes, sorry let’s say 87. In three minutes, the other team has three chances and out of those three chances scores two and wins the match. That’s pretty much how soccer is,” Domingo says.
The Nations League, a new tournament in Europe, is growing. It allows European nations to compete together and have another opportunity to win more silverware. Additionally, the winners of this year’s Nations League, France, walked away with €14 million ($20 million) and runners-up Spain with €9 million ($13 million).
Spain’s national team may be down after this outcome, but these tournaments help national teams prepare for the lead-up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup in one year’s time.