What is the UEFA Nations League?
It’s the question that has been on the lips of many. Even the most ardent of football fans have taken to the quietest corner of their local and whispered, “So, what is the UEFA Nations League?”
Even the professionals are confused, with England’s World Cup hero Harry Maguire recently admitting he was confused by the format of the tournament.
Mercifully, our team here at Greaves Sports are on hand to answer all of your questions and unravel the mystery of the UEFA Nations League.
Why has the UEFA Nations League been introduced?
In short, the UEFA Nations League is here to shake up the tired old format of nonsensical international friendlies.
You know the ones. England Vs San Marino… Scotland Vs Latvia… They appear during every international break and more often than not they play out just as mundane as they look on paper.
What’s more, they’re often of little benefit to either team. Such is the gulf between the team’s rankings in many fixtures, neither of them can enjoy a particularly competitive game of football that will prove useful for development or prepare them for an international tournament.
The UEFA Nations League will initially pit teams of a similar standard against each other, resulting in some mouthwatering fixtures such as France Vs Germany and England Vs Spain, which leads us nicely onto how the league will work.
How does the UEFA Nations League work?
The league is comprised of 55 nations taking part. These nations are split up into four leagues lettered A to D, each of which is divided into four groups of three or four teams.
The teams in each respective group are assigned to a league in direct correlation with their UEFA National Team Coefficient Rankings (UEFA’s version of FIFA’s world rankings system), meaning that fixtures are structured around performance and ability rather than pure chance.
Within each of the four leagues, one team will be promoted from each and one team will be relegated. This takes place throughout three separate competition stages during the international breaks of September, October and November in 2018.
The eventual winners of groups A, B, C and D will make up the Final Four, each of which will play against each other in a one-game semi-final stage in June 2019, which then leads to the finals and the eventual winner of the UEFA Nations League.
How does the UEFA Nations League affect Euro 2020 Qualification?
The top two teams from each of the 10 regular Euro 2020 qualification groups will already have secured a spot at the finals. However, the UEFA Nations League presents a second chance for some teams, with four additional places up for grabs to make up the 24 team tournament.
Each eventual winner of the separate four groups will earn one of these four additional tickets to Euro 2020, meaning that some of the lowest ranking nations will now have the chance to take part in the most prestigious tournament on the continent.
Should a team who have already qualified for Euro 2020 take the group’s top spot (which let’s be honest, is more than likely to happen), then the next best team in that particular league will be awarded their place based on overall performance.
The success of the UEFA Nations League and how seriously teams take it remains to be seen. Confidence in the tournament is still hard to gage and just how smoothly it will run is still uncertain, however, hopes are high.
Should it triumph, then we could very well see the UEFA Nations League take over conventional qualifying stages within the next few years.