Soccer on TV: UEFA Nations League, MLS, Paris Saint-Germain’s (potential) return to action
The ongoing round of UEFA Nations League games wraps up with some contests that will be headlined by big controversies as much as big-name players. Here's your viewer's guide to the top action.
The ongoing round of UEFA Nations League games wraps up with some contests that will be headlined by big controversies as much as big-name players, and there’s a handful of MLS games on Wednesday.
Here’s your viewer’s guide to the top action to watch.
France vs. Croatia
A star-studded matchup got thrown into turmoil Monday when France’s Kylian Mbappé tested positive for coronavirus four days after goalkeeper Steve Mandanda did so — and three days after scoring a sensational goal in Friday’s 1-0 win at Sweden. Mbappé will miss at least this game and Paris Saint-Germain’s first two Ligue 1 games of the season, and there will be rightly lots of questions about who else might be infected.
If the game goes ahead, it will be the teams’ first meeting since France’s historic win in the 2018 World Cup final. The teams know each other well, including some sets of club teammates. France’s N’Golo Kanté and Olivier Giroud play with Croatia’s Mateo Kovačić at Chelsea, and France’s Lucas Hernandez and Croatia’s Ivan Perišić lined up together at Bayern Munich last season.
Denmark vs. England
Tuesday, 2:45 p.m. (ESPN2, TUDN.com)
England is in upheaval, too, though for less serious reasons. Rising young stars Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood invited some female guests to their rooms while the team was in Iceland over the weekend, which would be a tabloid headline even if it wasn’t a breach of the traveling bubble.
Of course, the current circumstances make their indiscretion even worse. The two players were sent back to England and fined, and you can be sure they’ll remain in the spotlight because they play for Manchester City and Manchester United, respectively.
England barely escaped Iceland with a 1-0 win, getting a penalty kick in second-half stoppage time then giving one up seconds later — only for Iceland’s Birkir Bjarnason to shoot over the crossbar. Let’s see if the Three Lions can do better this time, in a game in which Jadon Sancho will face Borussia Dortmund teammate Thomas Delaney and former teammate Jacob Bruun Larsen.
Click here for the full UEFA Nations League game schedule.
Inter Miami vs. Atlanta United
Wednesday, 8 p.m. (ESPN+)
A game that was postponed in last month’s player strike for anti-racism will look a lot different than it would have had it been played back then. Miami has added French national team World Cup winner Blaise Matuidi from Juventus, and Atlanta has subtracted playmaker Gonzalo Martínez by selling him to Saudi Arabia’s Al-Nassr.
Atlanta will look to striker Jürgen Damm to boost the attack, while Miami will hope Matuidi frees Rodolfo Pizarro to create more. And everyone is waiting for Miami to complete the signing of Gonzalo Higuaín, which is reportedly close.
Click here for Wednesday’s full MLS schedule.
Lens vs. Paris Saint-Germain
Thursday, 3 p.m. (beIN Sports, beIN Sports Español)
In theory, this will be PSG’s Ligue 1 season opener, postponed from Aug. 29 thanks to the Champions League final — and Lens’ first home game in the top flight since the 2014-15 season. In practice, though, it comes with a giant caveat. In addition to Mbappé‘s coronavirus case, six Paris players contracted COVID-19 in late August: Neymar, Ángel Di María, Leandro Paredes, Marquinhos, Keylor Navas and Mauro Icardi.
Fingers have been pointed at a vacation trip the players took to Spain’s famed Ibiza beaches after the Champions League campaign ended. The team authorized the trip, and Lens fans complained that the vacation time was a factor in the postponement.
So that’s seven players total, and they aren’t just reserves. Postponing the game would make sense, but PSG has little room in its schedule with another Champions League campaign starting next month.