SO the inaugural UEFA Nations League is a real tournament after all and we English love it.

SO the inaugural UEFA Nations League is a real tournament after all and we English love it.

No it has nothing to do with our boys somehow managing to top a group that also contained Spain and Croatia and absolutely nothing to do with us being two games away from silverware and ending 52 years of hurt – stop being so cynical!

 

Lord Southgate, Sir Harry Kane and our pride of Lions march onwards to do battle with Switzerland, Holland and Portugal next summer. Sadly we have to wait until December 3 to find out who plays who in the semi-finals (why UEFA, why?).

England got there thanks to beating Croatia 2-1 at Wembley on Sunday – scoring both their goals in the last 12 minutes to get revenge on the side that stopped them reaching this summer’s World Cup final.

If Sir Harry broke his arm patting himself on the back after hitting the 85th-minute winner I would not have held it against him.

Scotland are also enjoying the tournament – earning promotion to League B by edging past Israel 3-2 in a thriller at Hampden Park.

James Forrest became the first player to score a hat-trick for Scotland since Robert Snodgrass in September 2016 as the Tartan Army finished top of Group C1 – which guarantees them a Euro 2020 play-off spot.

It means Alex McLeish’s side are now two games away from making their first major tournament since the 1998 World Cup.

But don’t mention the Nations League to Wales or Northern Ireland – it makes them sadder than a vegan Christmas.

TOTTENHAM v Chelsea is this weekend’s stand-out game domestically with Wembley braced for Saturday night fireworks under the Arches.

The London rivals have met 52 times in the Premier League with the Blues winning 27 times, Spurs just six with 19 draws. But the good news for Mauricio Pochettino’s men is that two of those victories have come in the past three meetings.

Elsewhere football fans are still waiting for one of Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea to lose . . . so will it be unlucky 13 for one or more of them?

Pep Guardiola’s champions travel to West Ham – a side they have put 20 goals past in their last six encounters. The Citizens are averaging three goals per game this campaign, have conceded just five and kept seven clean sheets in their opening 12 matches.

You feel the task ahead for the Hammers is like pushing a wheelbarrow with rope handles.

The Reds are at Watford with the Hornets currently more up and down than a garter on a can-can girl. Jurgen Klopp’s side were already 12 points off the pace this time last year so being just two adrift from City is some serious improvement.

Never before have so many teams been undefeated for so long – but how long will this new record last?

AND finally Virgil van Dijk has been praised for his classy gesture of consoling the referee moments after scoring an injury-time equaliser against Germany.

The Dutch captain hugged Romanian official Ovidiu Hategan, 38, who had broken down in tears after finding out his mum had died in the build-up to the match.

Van Dijk said: “I wished him strength and said he had refereed well. It’s a small thing, but I hope it helped him.”

The Liverpool star is a credit to his profession, while 99 percent of footballers give the rest a bad name.

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