UEFA Nations League Explained - The Ultimate Guide (2018 Update)
In this article we explain all you need to know about the UEFA Nations League including exactly what it is, a breakdown of the format, the groups, Nations League betting and more.
UEFA Nations League – What Is It & How Does It Work?
The competitive edge that international friendlies lack is one of the many reasons why most supporters despise them. UEFA have therefore designed the Nations League, aiming to promote more meaningful competition.
So, what exactly is the UEFA Nations League and how does it work?
What Is The UEFA Nations League?
Acting as a catalyst to maintain public interest, the Nations League is intended to improve the quality of national team football and will therefore replace most friendlies and run alongside qualifiers, with the finals being played in non-tournament years.
What Is The Format?
The competition will feature all 55 European nations, who have been placed into four leagues based upon their coefficient.
Each of these leagues is then divided into four, with the group winners being determined through a round-robin style format.
League A contains the highest ranking sides, whilst League D holds the nations who position lowest.
After all teams in the group have met both home and away, promotion and relegation is worked out accordingly.
In League A, each nation who tops their group goes through to the semi-finals which will take place in June 2019, with the two victors in this round competing for the Nations League trophy.
Promotion is awarded to group winners in leagues B, C, and D, whilst the last-placed finishers in the top three tiers are relegated.
What Are The Implications For EURO 2020?
As usual, qualification for the European Championships will take place, with the two top teams from 10 groups gaining entry.
However, the 16 play-off places will now be decided via the Nations League, enabling four more sides, one from each league, to progress to EURO 2020.
The winners of each group in each of the four leagues will gain a spot in the play-offs. If any of these teams have already sealed qualification, then the next best nation in the group takes their place.
Once the play-off places have been decided, the 16 teams will go into four groups. The four teams from each group will then play two one-off semi-finals and one one-off final to determine the four play-off winners, who each earn qualification for EURO 2020.
England have been seeded as one of the top teams in the tournament, so Gareth Southgate’s men will compete in League A. Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Wales are situated in League B, whilst Scotland are placed a tier lower and will play in League C.
Below are the Nations League groupings in full:
- Group A1: Germany, France, Netherlands.
- Group A2: Belgium, Switzerland, Iceland.
- Group A3: Portugal, Italy, Poland.
- Group A4: Spain, England, Croatia.
- 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.
- Group C1: Scotland, Albania, Israel.
- Group C2: Hungary, Greece, Finland, Estonia.
- Group C3: Slovenia, Norway, Bulgaria, Cyprus.
- Group C4: Romania, Serbia, Montenegro, Lithuania.
- 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, Gibraltar.
The Nations League will be played between September and November, with the finals taking place in June 2019.
Below are the dates scheduled for each round of Nations League fixtures:
- Round 1: September 6th to 9th, 2018.
- Round 2: September 9th to 11th, 2018.
- Round 3: October 11th to 13th, 2018.
- Round 4: October 14th to 16th, 2018.
- Round 5: November 15th to 17th, 2018.
- Round 6: November 18th to 20th, 2018.
- Finals: June 5th to June 9th, 2019.
Where Can I Watch The Nations League?
Sky Sports have been awarded exclusive rights to televise all Nations League games.
2018 Nations League Ante-Post Betting
Who are ante-post favourites with the bookmakers to win the inaugural Nations League tournament? bet365 have priced the outright winner market as follows:
- Spain – 4/1
- France – 4/1
- Germany – 5/1
- Belgium – 5/1
- Italy – 9/1
- England – 12/1
- Portugal – 14/1
- Croatia – 16/1
- Switzerland – 33/1
- Poland – 50/1
- Netherlands – 50/1
- Iceland – 80/1
The Nations League is a tournament that involves all 55 UEFA member countries that aims to improve international football by replacing ‘meaningless’ friendlies. It remains to be seen how much value it will offer from a betting perspective, although we hope plenty.