What is the UEFA Nations League?
UEFA’s new national team competition replaces most friendlies with competitive matches, allowing 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.
How do the Leagues work?
Teams play each other home and away, with the four group winners of League A qualifying for the UEFA Nations League Finals in June 2019 that feature semi-finals, a third-place match and the final. The group winners in Leagues B, C and D gain promotion and those who finish bottom of the groups in Leagues A, B and C will be relegated. The next season is 2020/21.
So what are the groups?
The draw was held on 24th January. England have been drawn against Spain and Croatia in their maiden UEFA Nations League group campaign. Elsewhere, Wales and Republic of Ireland were grouped together in Group Four of League B, meaning former Manchester United team-mates Ryan Giggs and Roy Keane will come up against each other. Holland, France & Germany are in the same group too.
What’s that about Euro 2020 qualification?
OK so in the normal Euro 2020 qualification process, there will be 10 groups. Top two from each group qualify. Simple. But that leaves four more places. That’s where the Nations League comes in. The group winners all make it to the Euro 2020 play-offs (unless they’ve already qualified through normal qualification, then the group runner up gets a chance). Each particular league has its own play-off system of single-leg semi-finals and a final. So one team from each of the four Leagues will qualify for Euro 2020. Still with us? Good.
Still not making sense?
Maybe this video can do a better job?
? UEFA Nations League draw tomorrow
⁉️ Who will be in our group?
⚽️ Here’s all you need to know.. pic.twitter.com/4AXeaVpHvf
— Northern Ireland (@NorthernIreland) January 23, 2018
When do the matches and finals take place?
UEFA will confirm the 138 League phase fixtures, with dates and kick-off times, as soon as possible after the draw. Matchweeks are below, though obviously teams in Leagues A and B only play on four of them – they will 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