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Football Reporting


World Cup holders France draw number ones Belgium as Italy confirmed for Nations League finals

The Azzurri were rubber-stamped as the host team for the Nations League finals, as they and their rivals learned their opponents for the final four

The draw for the UEFA Nations League finals has been conducted, with World Cup holders France set to square off against world number ones Belgium while hosts Italy face Spain next October.

The European governing body rubber-stamped Milan and Turin as the cities set to welcome the second edition of the tournament’s showpiece last four event on Thursday, confirming that the Group 1A winners would be on home soil.

Roberto Mancini’s Azzurri will welcome La Roja under the stewardship of Luis Enrique to San Siro on October 6, while Didier Deschamps’  Bleus will face Les Diables Rouges led by Roberto Martinez at Allianz Stadium a day later.

The winners will then meet in Milan three days later on October 10, with the third-place play-off unfolding in Turin upon the same date.

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The second semi-final brings neighbours France and Belgium together for the first time since the former emerged victorious in their pulsating World Cup semi-final encounter in Russia two years ago in 2018.

Spain will meet Italy meanwhile four years on from the pair’s last encounter in a 2018 World Cup qualifier in 2017 – though both could well meet beforehand at next year’s belated Euro 2020.

Portugal emerged as victors in last year’s inaugural Nations League finals following a 1-0 victory over the Netherlands, thanks to a Goncalo Guedes finish.

England meanwhile claimed their first top-three finish at a tournament since they hosted Euro 1966, after they emerged victorious in a hard-fought penalty shootout win over Switzerland, a year on from a dismal third-place play-off loss to Belgium in Russia.

Italy will solely host a major international men’s tournament for the first time in over 30 years, having previously last welcomed fellow nations to the 1990 World Cup, where they were knocked out in the semi-finals by a Diego Maradona-inspired Argentina.

They will however host four games as part of Euro 2020, with Stadio Olimpico in Rome set to host all three of their group stage games, against Turkey, Wales and Switzerland, as well as one quarter-final in the pan-continental edition of the tournament.

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