San Marino's joy at back to back draws proves value in UEFA Nations League 11 months ago

San Marino's joy at back to back draws proves value in UEFA Nations League

This is what the UEFA Nations League is all about

When the UEFA Nations League was first rolled out, it was met with derision and ridicule. A pointless competition comprised of glorified friendlies that would not enhance the international game. And there are of course very valid arguments to be made that now is not the time to be jetting around the continent to play football. But look further down the Nations League tables and you will see its true value.

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For higher ranked nations in the top tier of the Nations League, more regular games against tougher opponents are a bit of a treat - better practice for the big occasions - if largely meaningless in the grand scheme of things. But in the lower tiers, the competition provides a source of joy where before there was none.

San Marino's 0-0 draw against Gibraltar on Saturday night would usually not draw any attention. But this was a hugely significant result for San Marino, as it meant they avoided defeat in two consecutive games for the first time in their history.

Defender Dante Rossi was so overwhelmed with emotion after the historic 0-0 that he could hardly hold back the tears in his post-match interview.

"I said I wouldn't cry, but I will cry. A gift to my small, big big country," Rossi said.

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Well done, they've drawn two games, you might be saying. The Nations League is still pointless, you might think.

But these results are a direct consequence of the Nations League making international football more competitive, in all senses of the word. Not only is there more at stake, but the games are more closely contested.

Throughout San Marino's footballing history, they have made more headlines for record breaking losses than they have for winning matches. Their existence on the international stage has been one of misery, losing 147 out of the first 150 games and conceded a whopping 669 goals overall. Not anymore.

They will remain a minnow, and will probably never qualify for a tournament. But these moments of joy would not be possible without the invention of the Nations League. Sometimes, it's not all about us.