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England prepare to face reality after beguiling midsummer dream | Barney Ronay


Spain are the visitors in the Nations League on Saturday, the sort of opponents that, for all the panting hysteria, Gareth Southgate’s side struggled against at the World Cup

It’s time to play the music. It’s time to light the lights. It’s time to meet the 55 members of Uefa’s inaugural Nations League as streamed into four coefficient-based subsets.

Yes, it’s finally here. European football’s latest format kicked into gear this week, with World Cup semi-finalists England facing also-rans Spain on Saturday in what is an unusually tasty-looking first post-tournament fixture.

Related: Playmaker Pickford recognises the limits of his footballing ability

You remember it, don't you? The sun baked the earth, beer fell from the sky and everyone lost themselves in football

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