All eyes in the world of football will be on the UEFA Nations League, which makes its debut this week. But what exactly is it? Here is a lowdown of the new tournament.
The competition involves the 55 member nations of UEFA and will take place in two phases, starting with the group stage and then climaxing with two semi-finals and a final. However, the main challenge consists of four qualifying places for the Euro 2020. In the Nations League, the 55 teams are divided into four leagues according to the UEFA coefficient. League A is composed of the 12 best-ranked teams, League B the next 12, League C of the next 15, League D the remaining 16.
The four leagues are then subdivided into groups of three or four teams, so that each team plays between four and six games in its respective pool. As in the Champions League and Europa League, the Nations League uses a home-away system for first-round matches. At the end of these matches, the four winners from each league (except for League A) will be promoted, while the last teams from each league (except League D) will be relegated. The final phase of the first edition of the tournament will come in June 2019 and will be played between the top four teams of League A.
In regards to qualification for the Euros, 20 places out the 24 available will be contested as usual, with the top two teams from all ten groups guaranteed of a spot at the finals. The remaining four places will be determined via play-offs contested by teams that qualify through the UEFA Nations League.
Each of the four leagues will have a qualification path of their own, which will end in two semi-finals and a final, whose winner will take up one of the four slots. If a group winner has already qualified from the regular qualifiers, their place in the play-offs will go the next-best ranked team in their league.
Naturally, most attention will be on League A, which contains Germany, Spain, England, world champions France, European champions Portugal, among others. The draw delivered some “groups of death”. France will face Germany and the Netherlands in Group 1. Belgium will have fewer difficulties in Group 2, against Iceland and Switzerland. Italy, Portugal and Poland’s Group 3 promises some great matches as well. England will feel a little heat in Group 4 alongside Spain and Croatia.
Germany and France will kick us off tomorrow evening. Click here to bet on the match.