Nations League: lowdown

What is it?

The second edition of UEFA’s newest national-team competition. Portugal clinched the first title on home turf in 2019, the culmination of a tournament that drew praise from across the continent. The 2020/21 edition is looking to build on that success, with a couple of tweaks this time around.

Fixtures and results

What are the dates?

Spain v Germany: Two giants collide

Spain v Germany: Two giants collide

Though the football started on 3 September, the draw took place on Tuesday 3 March in Amsterdam. The League Phase continues in October and November 2020, with the Finals and relegation play-offs to follow.

Who is playing who?

The 55 associations were split into four Leagues (1–16 in League A, 17–32 in League B, 33-48 in League C, 49–55 in League D) according to their position in the 2020/21 UEFA Nations League Access List, which was based on the final rankings of teams in the 2018/19 UEFA Nations League after taking into account promotion and relegation. Within each League, teams were subdivided into two pots (League D) or four (for Leagues A, B and C), again according to the access list. The pots can be found here.

The groups

League A

Group 1: Netherlands, Italy, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Poland
Group 2: England, Belgium, Denmark, Iceland
Group 3: Portugal, France, Sweden, Croatia
Group 4: Switzerland, Spain, Ukraine, Germany

League B

League B ready to burst into action

League B ready to burst into action

Group 1: Austria, Norway, Northern Ireland, Romania
Group 2: Czech Republic, Scotland, Slovakia, Israel
Group 3: Russia, Serbia, Turkey, Hungary
Group 4: Wales, Finland, Republic of Ireland, Bulgaria

League C

Group 1: Montenegro, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Azerbaijan
Group 2: Georgia, North Macedonia, Estonia, Armenia
Group 3: Greece, Kosovo, Slovenia, Moldova
Group 4: Albania, Belarus, Lithuania, Kazakhstan

League D

Group 1: Faroe Islands, Latvia, Andorra, Malta
Group 2: Gibraltar, Liechtenstein, San Marino

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, which 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 and B will be relegated.

As League C has four groups while League D has only two, the two League C teams to be relegated will be determined by two-leg play-offs.

If a team due to participate in the play-offs qualifies for the 2022 FIFA World Cup play-offs (more on that below), the League C teams ranked 47th and 48th in the overall UEFA Nations League rankings are automatically relegated.

How does 2022 World Cup qualifying fit into this?

Nations League 2018/19 memories

Nations League 2018/19 memories

World Cup qualifying initially remains largely the same, with ten group winners advancing directly to the finals in Qatar. The format of the play-offs has evolved, though, and will now consist of two knockout rounds from which three teams qualify. It will involve the ten group runners-up plus the best two UEFA Nations League group winners (based on their overall UEFA Nations League rankings) who did not directly qualify or reach the play-offs.

Note: The format of the World Cup qualifying competition is subject to final ratification by FIFA.

When do the matches take place?

The group stage matches of the 2020/21 UEFA Nations League are played on the following dates: 3/4/5 and 6/7/8 September; 10/11 and 13/14 October; 14/15 and 17/18 November 2020.

The full fixture schedule with confirmed dates and kick-off times is available here.

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