After two hard-fought semi-finals, the second edition of the UEFA Nations League has its two worthy finalists. First being Spain, a squad which has answered all of its critics after beating Italy 2-1, in the process, the young Spanish squad ended Italy’s 34 games unbeaten streak. Although the European Champions looked destined to cruise into the finals, Ferran Torres’ brace defied all odds.
The other finalists are the reigning world champions, France who have surely made up for their disappointing exit from the Euros earlier this year. After conceding 2 goals in the space of 3 minutes via the world no.1 team, Belgium, Kylian Mbappe inspired the French side to an emphatic comeback. AC Milan defender Theo Hernandez’ 90th-minute strike eventually clinched a birth in the finals for France, which interestingly came moments after Lukaku’s tap-in goal on the other end was ruled out by VAR.
So ahead of the much-awaited UEFA Nations League Final 2021, let’s focus upon the top 5 players who could prove to be the most influential in their team’s success in the competition.
- Mikel Oyarzabal
This 24-year-old Spanish striker brought the highly experienced Italian defence down to its knees. Not many will be aware, Oyarzabal’s quality to come deep into the play ensured he has a 91% passing accuracy. With both the assists coming from his boot, Mikel Oyarzabal’s form and pace will hold key against the French defenders.
In the semi-final clash, he created 3 chances and completed 2 takedowns. In addition, Oyarzabal even possesses the ability to move quickly inside the box, finding spaces that eventually help his teammates to take shots on target.
- Ferran Torres
Many feel that if this 21-year-old Manchester City striker can work upon his consistency, he could be among one of the best talents to become the face of the sport. At just 21, Ferran Torres has scored a Premier League hattrick, a hattrick against Manuel Neuer and most importantly, a brace against the reigning European Champions.
With him scoring the first goal against Italy in the semi-finals, Spain got the much-required momentum to pile pressure on the Italian defence. Moreover, when the team was under pressure, Torres’ ability to hold and run down the wings, helped others to create deadly chances from close range.
- Kylian Mbappe
With this striker being on the field, not many would rule him out from deciding the outcome of the game. Having already led his nation to make a significant comeback in the semi-final against the world no.1 team Belgium, Mbappe looks destined to rectify his wrongs from the Euros. Possessing blistering speed and accuracy, Kylian Mbappe can kill off a team within minutes.
Moreover, his recent linkage with Karim Benzema has also allowed him to improve his scoring prowess. Lastly, being on the backs of a good run in the domestic as well as national circuit, the 22-year-old PSG striker’s form will be pivotal if France were to claim another silverware.
- Karim Benzema
There is no doubt that this talismanic Real Madrid striker was struggling in the first half of the semi-final against Belgium. Yet, he stood up when his nation required him the most. From a position that seemed like a ‘dead-end’, Benzema danced his way through and got past the defenders to score a beautiful goal to help his team bounce back.
Whether he will be able to complete one of the greatest individual comebacks, France has ever seen? Remains to be seen.
- Paul Pogba
Even when Belgium were cruising in the first half of the recently concluded semi-final, Paul Pogba maintained a passing accuracy of more than 85%. He created the most chances (3) in the game and even the most tackles (3) in the particular game. Given that Spain has an in-form midfield, Pogba’s domination in the centre will hold the key in the UEFA Nations League Final.