It is time for the UEFA Nations League explained article. Mostly because it is quite confusing.

In simple terms, it is a new biennial tournament that serves two purposes:

  1. To add a competitive element to the international breaks instead of the usual lackluster friendlies.
  2. To provide a summer tournament in the years without a World Cup or European Championship.

However, the structure is much more complex than that.

Leagues

The UEFA Nations League is made up of four leagues. The teams in each league are decided by their UEFA coefficient. So the likes of Croatia and world champions France are in League A, while minnows such as San Marino are in League D. For the record, England are rather optimistically placed in League A thanks to their successful World Cup campaign.

Groups

The four leagues are then split into four smaller groups made up of three or four teams. These teams will play each other twice in the three international breaks between now and November 2018.

There are also promotions and relegations. The team that finishes bottom of League A will be relegated to League B, while the team that finishes top of League B will be promoted to League A and so on for the 2020/21 Nations League tournament.

 

LEAGUE A

LEAGUE B

Group 1

France, Germany, Netherlands Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine

Group 2

Belgium, Iceland, Switzerland Russia, Sweden, Turkey

Group 3

Italy, Poland, Portugal Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Northern Ireland

Group 4

Croatia, England, Spain Denmark, Republic of Ireland, Wales
 

LEAGUE C

LEAGUE D

Group 1

Albania, Israel, Scotland  Andorra, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Latvia

Group 2

Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary Belarus, Luxembourg, Moldova, San Marino

Group 3

Bulgaria, Cyprus, Norway, Slovenia Azerbaijan, Faroe Islands, Kosovo, Malta

Group 4

Lithuania, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia Armenia, FYR Macedonia, Gibraltar, Liechtenstein

 

There is also the possibility of using this tournament as a qualifier for Euro 2020 but hopefully England won’t require that because they’ll go through the normal qualifying groups route.

Is it worth all this upheaval?

Well, the proof will be in the pudding. If the football is as entertaining as the World Cup, people will undoubtedly turn up, and tune in, to watch it. The best players will be on show and it gives the smaller nations a chance to improve and aim to get into the higher leagues. The financial rewards are excellent with millions being thrown at the countries to take part. This may incentivise the players to take it seriously.

The potential downside is it gives the fans yet more competitive football, which could water down the impact of watching the top competitions. This will mean that there’s no break for the fans to recharge and get excited for the new season. It will also run the risk of burning out the players and leading to more injuries and impacting on the quality.

The jury is still out on the UEFA Nations League. One thing is for sure. We won’t miss the boring international friendlies with managers trying new players, new formations, and using 11 subs.

Best odds?

If you fancy a flutter on the UEFA Nations League, you can get some tasty odds at Bet365.

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