Relegation and promotion deciders in November? Unthinkable in the Bundesliga, but that’s the order of the day in the UEFA Nations League as the national teams of Europe prepare for their final group games of the competition. These showdown fixtures will not only determine the Final Four of the tournament, but also which countries will be playing in the league above or below next time around. We’re taking a closer look at the handful of Hertha players involved.
Who will reach the Final Four?
Krzysztof Piątek and the Poland national team are theoretically still fighting to win Group 1 of League A in their final game, but on the back of their recent defeat, the chances are slim to say the least. Not only will they need to beat the Netherlands, they will also need to hope that Italy lose to Bosnia-Herzegonvina in the parallel game. "We have a small chance, but to make it possible we have to win our own game. That’s the most important thing anyway," said the 25-year-old Hertha man, hoping to get his 15th Poland cap tonight. Elsewhere, Dedryck Boyata and Dodi Lukébakio go into their final League A group game against Denmark with much better odds of reaching the tournament finals in March. After their recent victory against England, the Belgians only need a draw on Wednesday night to secure top spot in Group 2. Having made his debut in the last game, Dodi Lukébakio is desperate to continue proving himself in what is a top team in world football: "It was an amazing feeling to represent my country. I am very happy about it, but I know I need to give a lot more in order to achieve things here. For us as a team, the aim is to stay top of the group." There is still some doubt as to whether Boyata will be ready to play for the Red Devils this week – the Hertha centre back has been out of action in the current break.
Darida versus Pekarik
Hertha fans will also be casting their eyes over to Group 2 in Nations League B, however, where the final round of fixtures sees Vladimír Darida’s Czech Republic take on Peter Pekarík’s Slovakia. Both Hertha players need a win, but for different reasons: While the Czechs (nine points) need a win to pip Scotland (10 points) to the top of the group, the Slovakians (four points) need points on the board if they are to avoid relegation. Israel currently sit at third place with one more point than Slovakia. "I’m sorry Peka, but we need to win. After that we can hug and be friends again," said Darida, teasing his Hertha teammate ahead of the game. Pekarík’s answer followed promptly: "I’m looking forward to playing against Vladi, but all that matters is a win, so that we don’t get relegated." Due to the coronavirus outbreak within the Norway squad, Rune Jarstein is one of several players unable to influence his country’s fate. Their game in Austria – the decider for who wins League B’s Group 2, will feature a Norwegian ensemble thrown together at short notice.
U21 players hoping to maintain 100 percent record
Javairô Dilrosun and Deyovaisio Zeefuik had already qualified for the 2021 U21 EUROS with the Netherlands U21s back in October – impressively so, as well. The 5-0 win over Belarus at the weekend was their ninth win in as many games. Tonight, they face their Portuguese counterparts, who sit in second place behind the Dutch youngsters. On Tuesday night, Matheus Cunha and Brazil’s U23s were beaten in a friendly with Egypt (2-1) after leading at half time.