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You think the UEFA Nations League is a waste of time? Tell that to teams like Gibraltar

While some have criticised the new competition - with Jurgen Klopp calling it 'senseless' - it's certainly proving to be a hit for some of Europe's smaller nations

On Saturday evening, Gibraltar won a competitive match for the very first time by defeating Armenia 1-0 in the UEFA Nations League.

Joseph Chipolina netted a penalty in the second-half to give the away side their first points in Group 4 of their Nations League D.

Cue some absolute scenes inside the Hrazdan Stadium.


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Having only become a UEFA-affiliated team as recently as 2013, Gibraltar have lost every single one of their competitive matches since – finishing bottom of their qualifying groups for both Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup.

But up against sorry Armenia – who even had Arsenal midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan in their side – the minnows secured their first ever points and only their third win in their history.

Previously, their only other victories have come against Malta and Latvia in friendlies.

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The emotional celebrations at full-time – which included tears from goalkeeper Kyle Goldwin – have shown us just how much this competition means to smaller national teams.

After all, Kosovo’s first-ever win in a competitive match – when they beat the Faroe Islands 2-0 last month – is still fresh in the memory.

In fact, League D is shaping up to be where the action is, with all of the weaker national teams of Europe battling it out on equal terms.

A proud day for Kosovo

AP:Associated Press
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A proud day for Kosovo

We certainly don’t begrudge these little teams getting some well-earned glory, do we?

But still, whenever there’s international matches, you’re always going to hear criticism from club managers.

The most vocal of those is Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp, who spoke out about the Nations League last week, claiming it was a waste of time and labelling it “the most senseless competition in the world of football”.

Tell that to those lads who play for the likes of Gibraltar, Jurg. 

Plenty have hit back at Klopp, including Turkey boss Mircea Lucescu, who said: “When Klopp manages a national side I believe he will change his mind.

“National sides should continue to play competitive games. His statement is ego driven.”

Even Liverpool midfield Jordan Henderson has argued against his gaffer, saying: “As a player, you want to win every game, even a friendly.

“Footballer’s play to win and for us it’s important because it has an effect on the groups of the Euros and the seeding.

“It’s important for us to win especially against big nations like Croatia and Spain. We want to take it to the next level, beating teams like that.

“So it’s a good challenge for us to show that we can beat those teams.”

A few others have said the same, in a round-about sort of way. 

It may seem like a distraction to some, but the Nations League is designed to make preparation for major tournaments less-based on friendly matches by giving teams a competitive backdrop in groups determined by a result-based ranking system.

Allowing teams of a similar level play each other in a league format certainly give matches more importance – with promotion and relegation on the line.

Then of course, there’s the chance of competitive glory for sides that rarely have much else to celebrate.

Still, there’s always going to be those who are against new and confusing formats, aren’t there?


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