The international break has started. And this Thursday marks the start of the much awaited UEFA Nations League.

 

On Thursday, world champions France help kick off the inaugural UEFA Nations League against Germany, the start of a six days of action that also includes England v Spain and Portugal v Italy.

 

 

What is the UEFA Nations League?

This is a brand new tournament of UEFA. It is a new national team competition that replaces friendlies with competitive matches. It allows nations to play against equally ranked teams. The four group winners of the top-ranked League A qualify for the UEFA Nations League finals in June 2019. For the remaining sides, there is promotion and relegation to play for, not to mention a potential route to UEFA EURO 2020.

The idea is to render dull international friendlies a thing of the past. The Football Associations and their players, coaches, fans are bored of watching England/France/Germany take on San Marino and Kosovo. Instead, Uefa want all 55 member nations to take part in one enormous competition. It consists of four leagues (A, B, C, D), which each include four groups (1, 2, 3, 4).

In case the bigger countries aren’t enticed by the idea, their league is decided by their world ranking. And UEFA plan to use this format to eventually entirely get rid of European Championship and World Cup qualifying matches.

 

How does it work?

  • The format of the UEFA Nations League features promotion and relegation. The 55 European national teams have been divided into four leagues in accordance with UEFA’s national association coefficient rankings on 11 October 2017.
  • League A includes the top-ranked sides and League D includes the lowest:

League A

Group A1: Germany, France, Netherlands
Group A2: Belgium, Switzerland, Iceland
Group A3: Portugal, Italy, Poland
Group A4: Spain, England, Croatia

  • The group winners then contesting the UEFA Nations League Finals (semi-finals, third-place match and final) in June 2019 to become the UEFA Nations League winners. One host country will be appointed in December 2018 from among the finalist teams.
  • The four teams that finish bottom of their groups will be relegated to League B for the 2020 edition.
  • The top four ranked teams that do not qualify for UEFA EURO 2020 will enter a play-off in March 2020, with one finals place on offer.

League B

Group B1: Slovakia, Ukraine, Czech Republic
Group B2: Russia, Sweden, Turkey
Group B3: Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Northern Ireland
Group B4: Wales, Republic of Ireland, Denmark

  • The four group winners are promoted to League A.
  • The four sides that finish bottom relegated to League C for the next competition to be played in 2020.
  • The top four ranked teams that do not qualify for UEFA EURO 2020 will enter a play-off in March 2020, with one finals place on offer

League C

Group C1: Scotland, Albania, Israel
Group C2: Hungary, Greece, Finland, Estonia
Group C3: Slovenia, Norway, Bulgaria, Cyprus
Group C4: Romania, Serbia, Montenegro, Lithuania

  • The four group winners are promoted to League B.
  • The four sides that finish bottom relegated to League D for the 2020 edition.
  • The top four ranked teams that do not qualify for UEFA EURO 2020 will enter a play-off in March 2020, with one finals place on offer.

League D

Group D1: Georgia, Latvia, Kazakhstan, Andorra
Group D2: Belarus, Luxembourg, Moldova, San Marino
Group D3: Azerbaijan, Faroe Islands, Malta, Kosovo
Group D4: FYR Macedonia, Armenia, Liechtenstein, Gibraltar

  • The four group winners are promoted to League C for the 2020 edition.
  • The top four ranked teams that do not qualify for UEFA EURO 2020 will enter a play-off in March 2020, with one finals place on offer.
The UEFA Nations League groupings

The League Phase Draw for the UEFA Nations League took place at the SwissTech Convention Centre in Lausanne on 24 January 2018. The overall UEFA Nations League rankings will determine the composition of the draw pots for the subsequent European Qualifiers. In addition, the UEFA Nations League will provide teams with another chance to qualify for the UEFA EURO final tournament, with four sides qualifying through play-off matches which take place in March 2020.

 

When will the matches take place?

Matchweeks are below, though teams in Leagues A and B only play on four of them – they have friendlies on the other dates.

Matchday 1: 6–8 September 2018
Matchday 2: 9–11 September 2018
Matchday 3: 11–13 October 2018
Matchday 4: 14–16 October 2018
Matchday 5: 15–17 November 2018
Matchday 6: 18–20 November 2018
Finals draw: Early December 2018
Finals: 5–9 June 2019
UEFA EURO 2020 play-off draw: 22 November 2019
UEFA EURO 2020 play-offs: 26–31 March 2020

 

Where does UEFA EURO 2020 qualifying fit in?

EURO qualifying initially remains largely the same, at least until the play-off round. Previously contested by teams finishing third in their group, now that stage will involve the 16 UEFA Nations League group winners (or, if they have already qualified, the next best ranked team in their league)

Each League has a path of its own, and will consist of two single-leg semi-finals and a one-off final. The winner of each path wins a ticket to UEFA EURO 2020!

 

 

Do check out : UEFA Champions League 2018-19 groups have been drawn

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