The second edition of the UEFA Nations League kicks off tonight with a bang, pitting two former World Cup winners against each other. The biennial tournament was introduced by the European governing body of the sport to cut back on friendlies. Although that might sound harsh, one can’t help but agree that friendlies lacked competitive spirit. This caused people to become less and less interested in international competitions.
Enter, the Nations League. The competition not only pits teams against each other in a competitive fashion but also offers an opportunity to teams. The opportunity to play in the FIFA World Cup.
Format of the tournament, SIMPLIFIED
While the format of the tournament can be a bit complicated if you look at the groups without any previous knowledge, it’s pretty simple if you get it.
The UEFA Nations League is a straightforward league. 55 teams participate in the league, but only four go on to play in the semis, and two go on to clash in the finals.
The 55 teams are divided into four leagues. They are: League A, League B, League C and League D. Leagues A, B and C have 16 teams and League D has 7 teams.
The 16 teams of Leagues A, B and C are divided into four groups each. In other words, four teams are drawn in groups 1, 2, 3 and 4 each. The draw for the 20/21 campaign is as follows:
Group 1: Netherlands, Italy, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Poland
Group 2: England, Belgium, Denmark, Iceland
Group 3: Portugal, France, Sweden, Croatia
Group 4: Switzerland, Spain, Ukraine, Germany
League B ready to burst into action
Group 1: Austria, Norway, Northern Ireland, Romania
Group 2: Czech Republic, Scotland, Slovakia, Israel
Group 3: Russia, Serbia, Turkey, Hungary
Group 4: Wales, Finland, Republic of Ireland, Bulgaria
Group 1: Montenegro, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Azerbaijan
Group 2: Georgia, North Macedonia, Estonia, Armenia
Group 3: Greece, Kosovo, Slovenia, Moldova
Group 4: Albania, Belarus, Lithuania, Kazakhstan
Group 1: Faroe Islands, Latvia, Andorra, Malta
Group 2: Gibraltar, Liechtenstein, San Marino
A look at the different groups will definitely make understanding the format much easier.
Much like any league format, teams play each other twice per group. Once at home, and once away from home. When the fixtures are finished, four group winners from Group A go on to the finals. Once again, just like a league format, the teams who finish at the bottom of leagues A and B are relegated to the lower league, whereas the team from the lower leagues which finish at the top gain promotion.
This is where it starts to get a bit confusing but I shall try my best to explain.
Since League D has only two groups, only two teams can gain promotion to League C. Hence, two teams from league C must be relegated to make room for the promoted teams. The teams which are promoted or relegated are determined via playoffs.
Link to the FIFA World Cup
While group winners from the ten-team groups automatically qualify to the World Cup, the runners up from these groups play against the best two Nations League group winners, based on the Nations League overall ranking, that finished outside the top two of their qualifying group. Three playoffs lead to three teams qualifying.
Where to watch the UEFA Nations League?
In the Indian subcontinent, Sony Sports Network has the exclusive rights to broadcasting all UEFA competitions. Just like the Champions League and the Europa League, all televised matches will be available on the Sony Sports Channels which include Ten 1, 2, 3 and Sony Six. You can also watch the live streaming of the matches on Sony Liv.
Have a look at the must watch fixtures and their timings here.
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