The Nations League kicks off this month with England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland andthe Republic of Ireland all in action. A new tournament, that has been introduced in a bid to breathe a new lease of life into international friendlies with matches tending to be rather dull and meaningless affairs in recent years. There is now also an added bonus for teams competing in the Nations League… a back door into Euro 2020. But the real question is what exactly is the League and how will it work?
The new League will consist of all 55 UEFA member countries. With the overall aim of the new League being to replace the meaningless friendlies that there was minimal interest in, now wins, draws and loses mean something to each nation.
The 55 competing nations have been placed into 4 different ‘Leagues’ based on their current UEFA ranking. League A contains the 12 highest ranked teams and League B will feature the next 12 teams. League C will be made up of the next 15 teams and finally, League D will consist of the final 16 teams.
This League is made up of all the European heavy weights and is no doubt the most anticipated league.
Group A1: Germany, France and Netherlands
Group A2: Switzerland, Belgium and Iceland
Group A3: Portugal, Italy and Poland
Group A4: Spain, England and Croatia
The top four teams from each group will face-off for the UEFA Nations League trophy in June 2019 across five summer days, one of these four countries will host a mini-tournament for the four teams and there will be two semi-finals, a third-place and a final. The last four teams in each group will be relegated to League B for the 2020 edition. The top four-ranked league A teams that do not qualify for UEFA Euros 2020 enter play-offs in march 2020, with one final spot up for grabs.
This League is made up of:
Group B1: Slovakia, Ukraine and the Czech Republic
Group B2: Russia, Sweden and Turkey
Group B3: Austria, Bosnia and Northern Ireland
Group B4: Wales, Republic of Ireland and Denmark
The top teams from each group in this League will be promoted to League A for the 2020 campaign. The last four teams will be relegated to League C for the 2020 campaign. Finally, the top four ranked teams in League B that did not qualify for UEFA Euros 2020 enters play-offs in march 2020. With one Euro finals place on offer.
League C is made up of:
Group C1: Scotland, Israel and Albania
Group C2: Hungry, Greece, Finland and Estonia
Group C3: Slovenia, Norway, Bulgaria and Cyprus
Group C4: Romania, Serbia, Montenegro and Lithuania
The four group winners from this group will be promoted to League B for the 2020 campaign. The last four teams of this group will be relegated to League D for the 2020 campaign and the top four ranked League C teams that do not qualify for UEFA Euros 2020 enter play-offs in March 2020. With one Euro finals place on offer.
This League will be contested by:
Group D1: Georgia, Latvia, Kazakhstan and Andorra
Group D2: Belarus, Luxembourg, Moldova and San Marino
Group D3: Azerbaijan, Faroe Islands, Malta and Kosovo
Group D4: Macedonia, Armenia, Liechtenstein and Gibralter
Four group winners from each group will be promoted to league C for the 2020 campaign. Top four ranked group D nations that do not qualify for UEFA Euro 2020 will enter play-offs in march 2020. With one Euro finals place on offer.
The qualifying campaign will still take place as normal between March and November 2019. The top two teams from 10 groups will automatically qualify for the finals. That will account for 20 of the finalists. The final four places are where the Nations League comes in again.
The four group winners from leagues A, B, C and D, so 16 teams will play off in March 2020 in a bid to secure one of the four remaining places. The format will be one-off semi-finals and a final per league. Resulting in winning teams from leagues A, B, C and D taking the last four spots at the Euros. If a country has already qualified by the normal route, their place will go to the next highest-ranked team from their respective Nations League.
As easy as that!