With the UEFA Nations League still firmly embedded in its embryonic phase, everyone remains slightly in the dark about how they should feel about this fresh and intriguing international competition. But one thing is absolutely certain: if England lift the trophy on Sunday, we’ll be labelling it as a massive footballing achievement.
A quick dive back into the memory bank reveals middle-aged blokes falling through bus stops, gallons of beer being hurled into the air to greet every England goal, and an unhealthy obsession with the Lightning Seeds during a truly magnificent 2018 World Cup. The competition provided a perfect insight into how easily the Three Lions can unite a nation when they finally decide to turn up.
We may have fallen at the final hurdle but the memory of a scorching and successful footballing summer will live long in the memory. The UEFA Nations League, however, has already provided us with another reason to embrace a newfound love for the national side. Our path to Portugal was sealed when Harry Kane netted a dramatic winner to complete a late turnaround against Croatia, our cruel 2018 nemesis, in November last year.
The essence of his celebration was telling. Kane, a player who scores with such regularity that he often seems bored of his relentless habit of finding the back of the net, could be seen darting to the corner flag before hurling himself onto the turf. A vociferous echo of euphoria reverberated off the walls of Wembley as the rest of the team piled into a celebration which underlined the importance of this competition. If we needed any indication what winning this competition would mean, the scenes that unfolded in the aftermath of our talisman’s late winner provided it in abundance.
The hype which has preceded the semi-final against Nethands is a far cry from the days between the 2-0 win over Sweden and the eventual 2-1 loss against Croatia last summer, but don’t let that fool you. A clash against the pioneers of totaalvoetbal on Thursday will see two exuberant and exciting teams lock horns for a place in Sunday’s showpiece final, and when the game swings around fans are sure to realise what’s at stake.
But it’s not only supporters of the Three Lions who could be impacted by victory in the inaugural championships. From a content creator’s perspective, there appears to be a correlation between the success of the national side and a sharp increase in content engagement. The buzz created by England’s success last summer, for example, certainly boosted the appetite for football content on Snack Media’s three owned and operated sites.
Football FanCast, Football League World and Transfer Tavern all smashed their respective page view records in July 2018, as the knock-on effect from England’s journey to the semi- final saw fans rekindle their love for all-things football – content included. It was any publisher’s dream and a prime opportunity to diverge from the transfer-related news which typically dominates the summer off-season.
If England can become the first side to triumph in the new-look international competition, content creators – ourselves included – will undoubtedly be hoping that the effects on website engagement will be akin to those seen last summer.
Regardless of whether you’re a publisher or a general England fan, victory in UEFA Nations League finals ultimately offers the national side an opportunity to lift the first major trophy since 1966, and that’s a collective good we can all agree on.
All hail king Gareth and come on you Lions!
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