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England relegated from top tier of UEFA Nations League

England UEFA Nations League

England’s 1-0 loss at Italy cemented its placement in the bottom of UEFA Nations League A Group 3. Next campaign, England falls back into the second tier of the competition.

It was a brutal performance from much of the Three Lions. Despite going up against an Italy side that many believe is among the weaker in the side’s relative history, England failed to get anything going. Outside of a few headers from Harry Kane or Jude Bellingham, England never truly tested Gianluigi Donnarumma.

Of course, Italy was not exactly pumping away with chances. Therefore, it is no surprise that Italy’s, and the game’s, lone goal came on a piece of brilliance. Napoli forward Giacomo Raspadori took a 50-yard pass from Leonardo Bonucci like a pillow. Then, he created an inkling of space with Eric Dier before wrapping the ball into the far post of Nick Pope. It was a goal from nothing, but it was enough to unseat England.

England relegated in UEFA Nations League

Perhaps the more telling story of the game, and England’s overall Nations League campaign, is the lack of goals. England has just one goal in five games played in the 2022/23 UEFA Nations League. That one goal came from a penalty to salvage a point in matchday two at Germany. That, against seven goals conceded, albeit four against Hungary in a shocking display, doomed the three lions.

Hungary’s four-goal outburst against England in matchday four could prove pivotal on its own. The Hungarians, by far the underdog in a group consisting of England, Germany and Italy, sit atop the group entering the final matchday on Monday. Hungary shocked the Germans on Friday with a 1-0 win in Leipzig. Now, Hungary is on 10 points with more than a clear path to the UEFA Nations League final phase.

Hungary gets there with a win or a draw, as Italy sits two points behind the Hungarians. It remains to be seen what comes out as a bigger story at the end of this group stage: Hungary finishing by far better than England, Germany and potentially Italy, or England’s beyond poor play throughout the competition.

With a World Cup around the corner, it is more than surprising that the two teams struggling the most are among the World Cup favorites.

PHOTO: IMAGO / Marco Canoniero

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