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UEFA Nations League: All you need to know about the tournament

The top placed teams in the groups of leagues B, C and D are promoted while the bottom-placed sides will face relegation to the lower tier. The top placed teams in league A will ultimately take part in a playoff encounter – which is the UEFA Nations League final – to be held in June 2019.

Updated: Sep 07, 2018 09:21:54

By Sayan Ghosh

Germany's midfielder Joshua Kimmich (R) vies with France's forward Antoine Griezmann during the UEFA Nations League football match Germany against France on September 6, 2018 at the Allianz Arena in Munich, southern Germany. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP) (AFP)

When one thinks about the international football friendlies, the first thought that comes to mind is the unwelcome distraction they provide from the ongoing club season. Fans are hardly interested in following the encounters and the clubs are worried for the well-being of their players as the teams take part in mostly inconsequential matches that only benefits some teams in improving their FIFA rankings.

However, with the introduction of the UEFA Nations League, the authorities are looking at a complete overhaul of the system. This new tournament heightens the stakes of the international friendlies and with four Euro 2020 spots on the line, UEFA believes that the drab matches will be a thing of the past.

So, let’s get down to the real question. What is the UEFA Nations League? How will the league function and how will UEFA manage to put four Euro slots up for grabs in this newly-introduced league?

The questions are not restricted to the fans alone. Earlier in the week, England defender Harry Maguire had this to say: “The boss tried to explain it to us the best he could. I think he has got his head around it, but it took a lot of studying. It is confusing, but for players, we just go into each game trying to win it.”



So, without further ado, let’s dive into this latest addition to the FIFA calendar –

Structure of the league

The 55 nations competing in the league are divided into four leagues (or tiers) – A, B, C and D. Each league is divided into four groups. In leagues A and B, there are three teams per group. Group 1 of League C has three teams while the rest have four and League D groups all have four teams each.

The top placed teams in the groups of leagues B, C and D are promoted while the bottom-placed sides will face relegation to the lower tier. The top placed teams in league A will ultimately take part in a playoff encounter – which is the UEFA Nations League final – to be held in June 2019.

Euro 2020 qualification at stake

The qualification process for Euro 2020 will begin from March 2020 and while 20 teams will qualify directly, 4 slots will be decided from the UEFA Nations League. Teams that miss out on qualification in the first place, can make it to the final four spots on the basis of their positions in their respective groups. As a result, UEFA Nations League provides a second chance to the minnows to qualify.

Who benefits from the system?

According to the current qualification procedure, the four group winners from League D will face each other in a play-off. As a result, it is almost guaranteed that a comparatively smaller team will qualify for the Euros as the highest seeding pot from League D consists of Azerbaijan, Macedonia, Belarus and Georgia. With the Euros expanding to a 24-team format, it is no longer a place for just the top-ranked sides in the tournament and this will mean even more integration when it comes to the competitors.

First Published: Sep 07, 2018 09:11:41

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