You can’t fail to have noticed that we’re on the cusp of a new footballing era, as the UEFA Nations League looms into view this weekend.
Some people are confused by it or even afraid of it, but there’s really no need to be.
Here’s the answers to all the big questions surrounding this remarkable new chapter in the history of European football…
Tried making a UEFA Nations League wall chart… pic.twitter.com/bsWsATejXN
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) September 6, 2018
WHAT IS THE UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE?
Simply, it’s the competition you didn’t know you needed in your life but now that it’s here, you can’t stop thinking about it.
Devised to finally rid us of the pungent odour of meaningless friendlies, it is quite simply, the future.
WHO CAME UP WITH IT?
It was devised by a group of life sentence-serving prisoners in Nyon, Switzerland, close to UEFA’s headquarters.
They came up with it as part of a creative project, with the assistance of some of the world’s most brutal psychologists, armed with powerful levels of mood-stabilising drugs.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
This is the slightly complicated bit. 55 teams have been divided into four leagues. Each league is then divided into four groups. The teams have been arranged into their leagues using a unique coefficient which includes the average height of males aged 25-44, primary school literacy levels, average hours of sunlight in March and October, past result history in the Eurovision Song Contest and number of convicted murderers per square kilometre (the prisoners insisted on that one).
In the pre-qualifying phase, each nation will play each other once behind closed doors, with all players blindfolded and the results kept a secret to the outside world. The only witnesses will be UEFA-approved psychics who have already predicted the entire results sequence of the Nations League and must be present to confirm that they have predicted correctly. This pre-qualifying phase is completely meaningless.
Then, later that same day, the nations will play each other again. The teams will have to try and guess what their earlier result was and recreate it in front of the paying fans.
Every game counts. ?
— UEFA Nations League (@UEFAEURO) September 6, 2018
Once all the group matches have been played, the results will all be fed into a pink, glutinous sphere, which has a similar consistency to rubberised Angel Delight.
The sphere will begin to absorb the results, a period which will take six to nine months, culminating in the deciding of the final league tables.
Spain will then play Germany in the final, and every other team will sacrifice a squad member, who will be released into a dark Swiss forest and given 12 hours to find their way out, armed with a backpack filled with bricks and a child’s toothbrush.
The process will be repeated every two years.
WHAT DOES THE NATIONS LEAGUE SMELL OF?
A powerful combination of lavender, custard and the distilled sweat of former Netherlands midfielder Johnny Rep.
DOESN’T THE NATIONS LEAGUE PLAY A PART IN EURO 2020 QUALIFICATION?
Officially, UEFA say yes but in truth they’re lying through their f***ing teeth just to keep you interested.
CAN I START UP MY OWN UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE?
Yes! Starter kits are available at most large DIY stores for only £299. Experts predict it will become this Christmas’ biggest-selling gift.
ISN’T THIS ALL A LOAD OF OLD BOLLOCKS?
Again, yes. All of it.