ALICANTE, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 11:  Marco Asensio (R) of Spain celebrates after scoring his sides third goal with his teammate Dani Carvajal during the UEFA Nations League A group four match between Spain and Croatia at Manuel Martinez Valero Stadium on September 11, 2018 in Alicante, Spain.  (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)

9 of the Best Players From the First Round of UEFA Nations League Action

It was safe to say there was a fair amount of scepticism surrounding the UEFA Nations League prior to the opening round of fixtures. However, so far the competition has managed a to install a much needed competitive edge to the international break.

The 46 Nations League matches that took place over the course of the international break have offered up some intriguing results and plenty of standout performances from Europe's elite.

With that in mind, here's a look at nine of the top performing players from the first round of fixtures in the Nations League...

9. Aleksandar Mitrovic

Fulham's Mitrovic has hit the ground running in the Premier League and he was able to keep that goalscoring streak alive when joined up with Serbia.

The big striker was in fine form against Romania and he notched two goals to help his side earn a draw in League C.

His second goal was worth watching on repeat and it shows that he can do much more than simply get on the end of a cross. With his back to goal, he flicked the ball into the air before swivelling round and lashing it into the top right corner. 

8. Jamal Lewis

Unlike their neighbours to the south, the future of football in Northern Ireland is looking pretty bright. Despite falling to defeat against Bosnia & Herzegovina on Saturday, Michael O'Neil's men looked up to the task and were desperately unlucky not to salvage at least a point from the match.

The standout performer that day was left wing-back Jamal Lewis, who looked more than comfortable in his surroundings despite it being only his second appearance for the national team.

The 20-year-old Norwich star was not afraid to bomb forward at any given opportunity and he will be a fixture in the national team setup for some time to come. 

7. Marcus Rashford

He missed a fair amount of opportunities against Spain, but the fact of the matter is that Marcus Rashford was far and away England's best performer on the night.

The Manchester United man scored a well-taken goal early on in the first half and was the source of everything promising in the final third for the Three Lions - even if his final ball wasn't quite as sharp as required. He also picked up the winning goal in England's friendly against Switzerland.

He'll be watching his club football from the sidelines after picking up a red card in his last match against Burnley, so it was crucial that he made a good impression on Gareth Southgate

6. Marco Asensio

Spain have taken all the headlines for their breathtaking performance against Croatia in their second Nations League match and much of that was down to the performance of Marco Asensio.

The Real Madrid starlet didn't start against England, but he was given the chance to impress against Croatia and it is safe to say he grasped it with both hands.

Asensio ran the show from start to finish, scoring once and providing three assists. Croatia, despite their various talents, weren't able to get near him and he has surely cemented a starting spot in Spain's starting XI going forward.

5. Dani Carvajal

Dani Carvajal wasn't fully fit for Spain at this year's World Cup after picking up a knock in the Champions League final for Real Madrid, but he was back to his best against England and Croatia.

The right-back caused all sorts of problems when he got forward and played an instrumental part in the victory against England as well as picking up an assist against Croatia.

He was robust when defending as well, and he put in a particularly strong performance against England to limit their success when attacking down the left hand side of the pitch.

4. Christian Eriksen

 It has been a tospy-turvy week for Denmark's national team to say the least.

After the dispute between the Danish FA and Denmark's playing staff was temporarily settled, a full strength side was fielded against Wales and one man stood above the rest, as he so often does for his national team.

Christian Eriksen was instrumental to the win for Denmark and he notched both of their goals. A neat finish in the first half was coupled with a coolly taken penalty to ensure that Denmark went to the top of the their group in division B.

3. Ethan Ampadu

It came as a surprise too see that Ryan Giggs was opting not only to start 17-year-old Ethan Ampadu against the Republic of Ireland, but also to field him in a slightly unfamilar midfield role.

The Chelsea youngster normally operates as a centre-back, but he looked as though he had been playing in midfield his whole career during the trouncing of Ireland. 

He showed a level of maturity that was well beyond his tender years and rarely missed a beat throughout the match. It difficult to believe that he has only made seven appearances for Chelsea's first team based on that performance alone.

2. Alphone Areola

The standout goalkeeper of the Nations League was France's usual reserve keeper Alphonse Areola, who was stepped in for the injured Hugo Lloris.

Areola has had to deal with the arrival of Gianluigi Buffon at PSG, but he demonstrated that it would be a serious waste of talent if he were to be sitting on the bench everyweek.

He was utterly brilliant against Germany and his acrobatic heroics earned his side a point in a game that they probably should have lost. The 25-year-old proved that Lloris' spot in the national team is not as secure as it would have previously seemed.

1. Saul Niguez

One of the most understated midfielders in European football, Saul Niguez put in a man of the match performance against England and continued to dominate the midfield against Croatia.

Saul dictated possession from central midfield in a typical Spanish manner, but was able to offer incisive passing in the final third which was something that was sorely lacking for Spain during the World Cup - particularly against the likes of Russia.

The Atletico Madrid man also managed to pick up his first two goals for Spain with a well taken finish against England and a thundering header against Croatia.