Nations League finals: Spain win; Germany seal Olympic spot

Lawson: 'Little surprise' to see Spain as Nations League champions (1:10)

Sophie Lawson reviews Spain's 2-0 win over France to become champions of the inaugural edition of the UEFA Women's Nations League. (1:10)

The inaugural UEFA Women's Nations League is over and, strangely, the third-place playoff held more intrigue than the final. Spain beat France 2-0 to seal yet another trophy for the World Cup holders, but the game itself meant little beyond that, as both teams had already qualified for this summer's Olympic Games.

For Germany and Netherlands, fighting it out for the last Olympic spot in the third-place game, it was different. And Germany were the ones who progressed thanks to a 2-0 win of their own. So what did we learn from Wednesday's action?

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World champions put on a show

Spain showed their class in front of a record crowd of 32,657 in Seville as they dictated the final and exposed France's weaknesses by exploiting the width of the pitch. Square balls from Olga Carmona and Athenea del Castillo provided assists for Aitana Bonmatí and Mariona respectively, as the hosts struck on either side of the break, and another piece of long-awaited silverware can be added to the trophy cabinet.

The Nations League was another show of strength for the world champions, but there are deeper questions around the team -- not just the players left over from Las 15, who continue to sit out, but of the management too. Montse Tomé was only intended to be a part-time solution as Spain coach, following the wake of the Luis Rubiales scandal that saw Jorge Vilda finally ousted, and it will be interesting to see what develops in the coming months.

Spain's players have shown an incredible ability to come together regardless of what has been going on behind the scenes or who is in the dugout, and their talent is clear. Heading into the Olympics as one of the favourites, La Roja will believe in their own abilities and have a great chance of adding yet another piece of silverware to their haul.

Olympic hosts fall flat

Last week, ESPN's Julien Laurens implored France to "play their game" against Spain in hope that they would learn something from their trip to Seville. However, Les Bleues sunk into themselves in each third of the pitch, their press was non-existent, they were slow on the ball and ultimately underwhelming.

With the World Cup something of a free hit for coach Hervé Renard, who took charge of France less than four months before the start of the tournament, the bigger picture has been about preparing France for hosting the Olympics. This loss to Spain marks just the second defeat (inside 90 minutes) for Renard, but his players haven't always looked the most convincing. Renard wants them to attack with purpose, yet in Seville the team looked devoid of ideas.

Whether the team are still stumbling over the old mental hurdles that have plagued them at major tournaments in the past, or whether it was just an off day, there is not much time left to get things right. Renard will be under pressure to perform well at the Olympics on home soil, with France's opening match scheduled for July 25.

Bühl sends Germany to Olympics

The third-place playoff kicked off in Heerenveen just as the final was winding down in Seville, but despite Olympic qualification being on the line, Germany and Netherlands played out an uninspired first half.

Germany's interim coach Horst Hrubesch made a key change during the break which turned the tide as Lea Schüller came on for Sydney Lohmann. Klara Bühl opened the scoring shortly afterward with a half-volley, before turning provider with a fine cross for Schüller to head home the second.

Hrubesch is still trying to find the magic formula to give Germany the edge from the start, rather than having to find inspiration from the bench. Even when on top, there's something lacking about the team and they routinely look short of a player to balance them out. They also rely too much on captain Alexandra Popp, asking her to take on multiple roles during a game. Although an inspiration for her nation at Euro 2022, Popp is 32 now and the strain looks to be catching up to her -- something they will need to figure out before the Olympics.

Hrubesch had said that he would step aside if Germany failed to qualify for the Olympics, but now they have a tournament to play in the summer, there is the uncomfortable question of what happens next. As much as they will be happy to have qualified, given where they were a few months ago, clearly someone else needs to take charge and take the team forward.

Dutch get a rare summer off

Much was made of the possibility of Netherlands playing in four major international tournaments in four years and fatigue certainly played a part in their failure to quality for the Olympics. But there is also no denying how hit and miss the Dutch have been during this Nations League campaign, lacking consistency and wildly fluctuating between the good and bad sides of themselves.

Still, the team's injuries were hard to ignore as they struggled against Germany without Vivianne Miedema, Victoria Pelova and Jill Roord, while there was a sizable disconnect between the midfield and attack that left them rudderless when they tried to get forward.

Unlike his opposite number, coach Andries Jonker didn't go to his bench to freshen things up until after Germany's opener and by then it was too late. Although Jonker has attempted to balance youth and experience since taking the reins, he is yet to find the right balance and his substitutions have tended to err on the cautious side. He will need to go back to the drawing board to make the midfield the powerhouse that it once was.

A summer without a tournament, whilst a disappointment for the Oranje, should at least provide the players with a small period for rest and recuperation -- even if FIFA has shoehorned in an international window in July that will be used to play qualifiers for Euro 2025.