Weekend Wanderings: Will England’s homecoming be a harsh reality check?, Will the World Champions’ feel-good momentum continue?, Manchester United welcome league football

Football, it has been around a while but you still always see something new.

This weekend is very much about out with the old and in with the new as two new entities, the UEFA Nations League and the revamped fully-professional Women’s Super League, debut.

While plenty of fans may be frantically flicking through Wikipedia to get a grasp on how the Nations League works there are several exciting match-ups to come.

Similarly the arrival of the rebranded and restructured WSL also provides some barnstorming fixtures in its opening weekend.

1.  Will England’s homecoming be a harsh reality check?

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Following the summer love affair with the England national team at the World Cup, Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions return to Wembley.

It has been a long time since there has been such a positive atmosphere surrounding an England side returning from a tournament but their homecoming match is arguably as tough as it gets.

First up in the new Nations League is Spain who flopped badly in Russia, knocked out by the hosts in the round of 16.

However, the national team are now under the guidance of former Barcelona manager Luis Enrique and they still possess plenty of talent despite the retirement of several stalwarts.

England may have finished fourth at the World Cup but this game could see them crashing back down to earth.

2. Will the World Champions’ feel-good momentum continue?

worldcup

Source: The Guardian

France get ready to play their first game since being crowned World Cup winners and their assignment is to conquer a Netherlands team that are nowhere near as talented as they have been in the past.

While Didier Deschamp’s side are now the team to beat, they are still fundamentally a young group, though an incredibly talented one.

Ronald Koeman’s work as boss of the Netherlands is still in its infancy but if he can recreate the good work he did at Southampton – rather than Everton – the Dutch could well spring a surprise.

France go into the game as big favourites but will their summer glory affect their focus this time around?

3. Will Wales have any problems with Denmark’s daring part-timers?

There is understandably great interest from the home nations in the Wales team – courtesy of Gareth Bale and Ryan Giggs’ foray into management – but this round of international fixtures is all about Denmark.

Following a commercial dispute between the national team players and the Denmark football association none of the team’s regulars are available.

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The dispute also saw manager Age Hareide leave his post with former Arsenal man John Jensen taking charge.

On Wednesday night the Danes played Slovakia without the likes of Christian Eriksen and Kasper Schmeichel.

Instead they played with lower league players, part-time footballers and futsal players.

There was a part-time salesman, a number of students and one Youtube freestyler in the team that eventually succumbed to a 3-0 defeat.

While there are rumours that the Danish regulars could return for the Nations League fixture against Wales on Sunday, the expected line-up is, for now, predicted to include the same mix of internet stars and salesman.

How will they handle the likes of Gareth Bale? We will see.

4. Who can gain the early upper hand as the WSL returns?

The new fully-professional WSL returns this weekend following England and Scotland qualifying for the Women’s World Cup in France next year.

As opening weekend’s go we are treated to a cracker as the league’s two powerhouses – Manchester City and Chelsea – go head to head.

Both sides boast plenty of talent but both have lost some key player over the summer – including Man City’s Izzy Christiansen making a high profile switch to European champions Lyon.

As reigning league champions, Emma Hayes’ side will go in as favourites but a win in this game for either side would be the perfect start.

5. Manchester United welcome league football

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Away from the top tier, the Women’s Championship also has a big new arrival as Manchester United (finally) enter a domestic women’s league campaign.

The team have entered straight into the second tier and the club have big ambitions,  as shown by their recruitment of players such as England internationals Alex Greenwood and Siobhan Chamberlain.

Couple that with Casey Stoney as manager and the Red Devils are clearly looking to make their mark.

Their first fixture of the new league season see them travel to Aston Villa and a win would mark the start of Man United’s inevitable rise.

You can follow Alasdair on Twitter @adjhooper1992

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