The start of the new season and the conclusion of the 2018 FIFA World Cup may have only felt like yesterday, but International football is well and truly back as we have reached the first International break of the 2018/2019 domestic campaign.
If you are going to miss your West Ham United heroes over the break and want to know when you can see them in action for their various nations, you have come to the right place as we analyse where and when the International Hammers will be playing over the course of the next week, before the return of the Premier League.
Just four of Manuel Pellegrini’s squad, who have lost their first four matches of a league season for only the second time in 92 years were called up for senior International duty by their respective countries.
The quarter of stars are Poland goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski, fresh from establishing himself as the new No1 at London Stadium, Scotland’s Robert Snodgrass, new signing Andriy Yarmolenko of Ukraine and Austrian talisman Marko Arnautovic.
You will notice that all four of these stars are European and therefore, for this historic International break, will all be competing in the first-ever matchday of the brand-new UEFA Nations League.
The tournament was brought in to aid in the qualification process for the 2020 European Championships and involves a league system being introduced to International football, but we will get onto explaining the whole format a little later.
Where And When?
Members of the Claret & Blue Army wanting to watch Pellegrini’s International stars on television are in luck this break, with Sky Sports Football showing every single game from the brand-spanking-new Nations League.
It all kicks off tomorrow evening (Thursday 6 September) and there is a West Ham player in action on four of the opening five nights of the competition, as matchday one and [art of matchday two takes place.
On Thursday, Yarmolenko and his Ukraine face an away trip to the Czech Republic in League B Group 1, kick-off for viewers in the United Kingdom will be 7:45 PM.
That same night, one Hammer will be involved in a friendly, three of the four players are also due to play in a friendly at some stage, Arnautovic’s Austria hosting Sweden at 7:45 PM.
There will be plenty of Friday night football to feast on too, with the same structure, one Irons man competing in the Nations League and one getting a run out in a friendly.
Fabianski is the star in competitive senior action, hoping to play between the sticks away to Italy in League A Group 3 at quarter-to-eight, at the same time, at Hampden Park, Snodgrass and Scotland go head-to-head with World Cup bronze medallists Belgium.
Saturday will be a day off for the International Hammers, before Yarmolenko hopes to feature for the nation he is nearing a century of caps with, in their second Nations League match, a 2 PM affair at home to Slovakia.
On Monday, Snodgrass gets his first taste of competitive tournament International football on the same ground as Friday, Hampden, when the Scots host the Albanians at 7:45 In League C Group 1.
And last but not least, on Tuesday evening, the final night of senior International matches before domestic football returns, the two remaining Hammers contest their second games of the break.
In League B Group 3, at 7:45, star man Arnautovic and Austria make the tricky journey to Bosnia & Herzegovina, while that game is being contested, Fabianski will be in Warsaw as Poland welcome Republic of Ireland in an International friendly.
UEFA Nations League Explained
We could never end this analysis of West Ham’s Internationals in September without fully explaining the competition they are primarily going to be featuring in, the new UEFA Nations League, which many within the footballing world have struggled to get their heads around.
Below, we summarise the format of the new tournament, which will go on for just under a year, and tell you exactly how it will work as it will involve the International Hammers all season-long.
Each of the 55 UEFA Nations have been divided into four different tiers based on their Coefficient Rankings, meaning that they will face teams similar to them.
The four divisions are League A, B, C and D, with League A consisting of the top bracket of the 55 and League D, the bottom, each League has been divided into four groups consisting of either three or four national teams.
Each team will play each of the teams in their groups home and away, the winners of each Group will gain promotion to the tier above and the bottom side will be relegated to the tier below, for the next Nations League.
Except in the top tier, League A, things are different, each winner of a group will progress to the finals which will be played out the year after, four nations, semi-finals and a final, the last team standing will be crowned the winners of the first UEFA Nations League.
But, this isn’t all, the winners of each group in each tier will earn a spot in qualifying play-offs for the next European Championship (2020), providing they haven’t already made it through via the normal qualification tournament, in which case the next best team will be chosen.
These play-off matches will determine who will take the final spots for the corresponding European Championships, the 2020 tournament and will be held, as usual, shortly before the tournament, after the end of normal qualifying in 2019.
The maiden playing of the Nations League will start this month, as aforementioned, with all group matches scheduled for a period between September and November, the draw for the finals will take place in December 2018.
The finals will then be held across Europe in early June 2019, with the draw for the play-offs taking place in late 2019 and the play-offs themselves in March 2020, all for the historic EURO 2020 Tournament.
So, now that you’ve been given the full lowdown on exactly where and when West Ham’s International stars will be taking to the field during the September International break, will success away with their nations mean Fabianski, Snodgrass, Yarmolenko and Arnautovic will return to Rush Green training ground next week with a much-needed new-found confidence? Join us in seven days, to find out.