What is the UEFA Nations League and how does it work?

The UEFA Nations League is a new international tournament, the tournament is to be contested by the senior FIFA men’s national teams of the member associations of UEFA. The newly founded UEFA Nations League starts on September 6, with 55-member Nations of UEFA competing.

This competition was created because “UEFA and its associations wanted more sporting meaning in national team football, with coaches, players and even the fans increasingly of the opinion that friendly matches are not providing adequate competition for National teams.” The inaugural UEFA Nations League starts in the autumn of 2018 with matches set to take place in September, October and November.

The newly found competition has to a large extent been under the radar so far, maybe because of the World cup or the start of the new league season, but from September onwards it will be stitched into the sport’s fabric and replace the majority of friendly games.

Remember how barren last summer felt, even though European qualification for the 2018 World cup in Russia began in September 2016. That 15 months slog and the empty summer are both gone for good but with this competition coming to play, we will surely have an all through busy and fun year of football and many fans would love to see a Spain vs England or Germany vs France compete in League form. This new competition will also hold four qualification spots for the European Championship, with the tournament having now expanded to 24 teams.

How it works

As the name suggests, the UEFA Nations League is a league competition for UEFA’s 55 members. It will consist of four different divisions (called Leagues) and three different stages.

In the first year, the four leagues will be decided on team strength according to UEFA coefficient, which is their own version of FIFA’S world rankings. League A contains the 12 highest ranked teams and league B will feature the next 12. League C is comprised of the next 15 teams and League D is made up of the final 16, interesting right?

League A

League A is no doubt the most anticipated league as it is made up of footballs heavy weights, it consists of:

Group A1: Germany, France, Netherlands

Group A2: Switzerland, Belgium, Iceland

Group A3: Portugal, Italy, Poland

Group A4: Spain, England, Croatia

Note:
  • 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.
  • 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.

League B

The league B is made up of:

Group B1: Slovakia, Ukraine, Czech Republic

Group B2: Russia, Sweden, Turkey,

Group B3: Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Northern Ireland

Group B4: Wales, Republic of Ireland, Denmark.

Note:
  • Top four teams from each group will be promoted to League A for the 2020 edition.
  • Last four teams of each will be relegated to League C for the 2020 edition.
  • Top four ranked teams in League B that did not qualify UEFA Euros 2020 enters play-offs in march 2020, with one Euro finals place on offer.

League C

The League C is made up of:

Group C1: Scotland, Israel, Albania

Group C2: Hungry, Greece, Finland, Estonia,

Group C3: Slovenia, Norway, Bulgaria, Cyprus,

Group C3: Romania, Serbia, Montenegro, and Lithuania.

Note:
  • Four group winners from each group will be promoted to League B for the 2020 edition.
  • The last four sides of each group will be relegated to group D for the 2020 edition.
  • 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.

League D

This league will be contested by:

Group D1: Georgia, Latvia, Kazakhstan, Andorra

Group D2: Belarus, Luxembourg, Moldova, San Marino

Group D3: Azerbaijan, Faroe Islands, Malta, Kosovo,

Group D4: FYR Macedonia, Armenia, Liechtenstein, and Gibraltar.

Note:
  • Four group winners from each group will be promoted to league C for the 2020 edition.
  • 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.

Finally, if you are in the category of people wondering about your club’s stars being overworked, stop the worry because there are no extra games being played only boring friendlies being replaced. And there’s even room in the schedules for countries to continue arranging their own friendlies against whoever they want across the globe, especially the top nations, who are in smaller groups for the Nations League and Euro 2020 qualifiers and therefore have more rest days. There will be swings and turns in the competition but surely, there will also be plenty of entertainment and a lot of things to cheer about come September 2018.

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