UEFA Nations League Explained – The Ultimate Guide (2020)

The UEFA Nations League has transformed the boring and meaningless international friendlies into a new and exciting tournament full of betting opportunities.

An international football tournament featuring teams from all across Europe, the UEFA Nations League was designed to replace uncompetitive friendlies whilst simultaneously giving smaller teams a greater chance of qualifying for the European Championship finals (the Euros). Moreover, the Nations League brings with it literal thousands of new betting opportunities for punters to enjoy.

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Nations League 2020/21 Betting Odds & Predictions

bet365 are known for providing some of the top odds in the industry, so we've compiled a few of the best bet365 Nations League odds.

bet365 Nations League Betting Outright Odds

Teambet365 Odds
France7/2
Belgium6/1
Spain5/1
England11/2
Italy8/1
Netherlands12/1
Portugal12/1
Germany10/1
Poland25/1
Switzerland66/1
Ukraine40/1
Denmark80/1
Bosnia and Herzegovina100/1
Croatia33/1
Sweden80/1
Iceland150/1

bet365 Nations League Betting Outright Odds League A – Group 1

Teambet365 Odds
Italy1/1
Netherlands5/4
Poland13/2
Bosnia and Herzegovina33/1

bet365 Nations League Betting Outright Odds League A – Group 2

Teambet365 Odds
Belgium4/7
England6/4
Denmark40/1
Iceland100/1

bet365 Nations League Betting Outright Odds League A – Group 3

Teambet365 Odds
France4/7
Portugal6/4
Croatia50/1
Sweden100/1

bet365 Nations League Betting Outright Odds League A – Group 4

Teambet365 Odds
Spain8/3
Germany7/4
Ukraine12/1
Switzerland28/1

All information is accurate at the time of the writing. Last updated: 9th October 2020.

 

Nations League Groups

England have been seeded as one of the top teams in the tournament, so Gareth Southgate’s men will compete in League A. Situated in League B are Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Below are the Nations League groupings in full:

League A

  • Group A1: Netherlands, Italy, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Poland.
  • Group A2: England, Belgium, Denmark, Iceland.
  • Group A3: Portugal, France, Sweden, Croatia.
  • Group A4: Switzerland, Spain, Ukraine, Germany.

League B

  • Group B1: Austria, Norway, Northern Ireland, Romania.
  • Group B2: Czech Republic, Scotland, Slovakia, Israel.
  • Group B3: Russia, Serbia, Turkey, Hungary.
  • Group B4: Wales, Finland, Ireland, Bulgaria.

League C

  • Group C1: Montenegro, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Azerbaijan.
  • Group C2: Georgia, North Macedonia, Estonia, Armenia.
  • Group C3: Greece, Kosovo, Slovenia, Moldova.
  • Group C4: Albania, Belarus, Lithuania, Kazakhstan.

League D

  • Group D1: Faroe Islands, Latvia, Andorra, Malta.
  • Group D2: Gibraltar, Liechtenstein, San Marino.

 

The Timings

The Nations League will be played between September and November 2020, with the finals taking place in June 2021.

Below are the dates scheduled for each round of Nations League fixtures:

  • Round 1: September 3rd to 5th, 2020.
  • Round 2: September 6th to 8th, 2020.
  • Round 3: October 8th to 10th, 2020.
  • Round 4: October 11th to 13th, 2020.
  • Round 5: November 12th to 14th, 2020.
  • Round 6: November 15th to 17th, 2020.
  • Finals: June 2nd to June 6th, 2021

 

Nations League Betting Tips

Research The Teams

With so many teams competing in the Nations League, it is important for punters to research the styles of play, player stats, and form of all the teams which they may not be very familiar with. It is also important to note that players can have a totally different style of play at international level when surrounded by teammates that they don’t usually play with. Additionally, players who usually shine while playing for their club might be overshadowed if they play for a nation that is full of talent, whilst players who normally do not stand out can be stars internationally if they are from a smaller country.

Assess Who Takes the Competition Seriously

Although UEFA created several incentives for the Nations League to make competing teams take the tournament more seriously than regular friendlies, this is not always the case. Many top European teams know that they will most likely qualify for the European Championship through the Euro Qualifiers, and won’t feel the need to put too much emphasis on the Nation’s League. At the other end of the spectrum, smaller teams who already have a low chance of progressing to the European Stages also may not put as much effort into the competition. Researching which teams take the tournament seriously can heavily influence your bets.

Take Advantage of Offers

Making use of the many offers and promotions available on betting sites can take your Nations League bets to the next level by enhancing your winnings. Money back offers can be especially lucrative, as they give you a chance to minimise your potential losses. Comparing the welcome offers and free bet bonuses of different bookies can also be very useful if you're looking to get the most bang for your buck. Last, but definitely not least, always remember to read the terms and conditions of each promotion before using them.

 

Popular Nations League Bet Types

  • Outright Winners – You can predict the overall winner of the Nation’s League as well as the winners of each Group and League.
  • Top Goal Scorer – With so many players involved, the top scorer market is likely to be unpredictable with potentially lucrative odds.
  • Both Teams to Score (BTTS) – Betting on both teams to score is a great way of getting a return when you are expecting an exiting match but unsure of who will come out on top.
  • Over/Under Markets – With 333 goals scored in the group phases of the 2018 Nations League (an average of 2.41 goals per game), betting on many goals through over/under markets could prove to be especially reliable in this tournament.
  • Accumulator Betting – Since Nations League matches take place a few times a year, there will be plenty of matches taking place on the same day. Take your bet to the next level by combining your selections into an acca.

 

UEFA Nations League Structure and Format – How Does it Work?

All 55 teams which form part of UEFA are divided into four separate leagues (A, B, C, and D) according to their UEFA coefficient. The highest ranked teams will be placed in League A, whilst the lowest ranked teams will be in League D. Differing from the previous 2018/19 Nations League, in the 2020/21 edition of the competition, Leagues A, B, and C will each have 16 teams while League D will have the remaining 7 teams. Although this might not sound like a massive change, it actually increases the number of matches played from 138 up to 168! Starting from the 2020/21 tournament, VAR technology will be used in the Nations League.

The 16 teams in each of Leagues A, B, C are then split randomly into four further groups based on ranking order. Each group within each league will consist of 4 teams. Since there are less teams, the 7 teams from League D are randomly divided into two groups (one of four and one of three), also based on their rankings.

Teams will face off in a round-robin format whereby each team will play all other teams in their group both home and away. This means that teams in Groups 1-4 from Leagues A-C, and Group 1 from League D will play 6 matches each. Since the remaining group in League D contains fewer teams, each team will only play 4 matches.

The 4 teams which finish at the top of their groups in League A will move on to the Nations League Finals, which take place the following June. These matches all take place in the same host country and consist of two semi-finals, a third place playoff, and a final. All matches in the playoffs are straight knockout rounds, and only teams from League A can win the UEFA Nations League.

How are Rankings Decided?

For the inaugural tournament, teams were ranked based on their UEFA coefficient score following the 2018 FIFA World Cup. For the 2020/21 Nations League, teams will be ranked based on the 2018/19 UEFA Nations League overall ranking and not on their UEFA coefficients. This is where the aspect of promotion and relegation between groups comes into play. Group winners of Leagues B, C, and D will get promoted to a higher League whilst last placed teams in Leagues A and B will get relegated to a lower league. Since League D has less teams, a playoff will take place between the teams who finish last in League C to determine who gets relegated.

What are the Implications for Euro 2024?

The European Championship consists of 24 teams, with 20 of these teams qualifying for the group stages of the tournament through the specific European Championship Qualifiers (which are separate from the Nations League). One of the added reasons for creating the UEFA Nations League and ensuring that it is taken seriously is that the remaining 4 teams for the Euros are chosen as a result of their performance in the Nations League.

These 4 spots will be determined by a playoff round featuring all the 16 group winners. If a group winner has already qualified for the Euros, then their place in the playoffs will go to the next best ranked team in their league. Each league has its own path, meaning that one team from each league will end up in the group stages of the UEFA European Championship.

Prize Money

As a further incentive, all teams receive some prize money for competing in the UEFA Nations League, with each group winner receiving an additional bonus. Teams reaching the playoffs will also receive extra financial rewards depending on how far they progress.

 FeeWinnerRunner-UpThirdFourth
League A£1.97M£1.97M---
League B1.31M1.31M---
League C£0.98M£0.98M---
League D£0.66M£0.66M---
Finals-£5.24M£3.93M£3.05M£2.18M

 

A (Short) History of the Nations League

The first edition of the UEFA Nations League began in September 2019, with the finals being held in June 2019. Portugal were the overall winners of the first Nations League, having beaten Netherlands 1-0 in the final. The idea for the creation of this tournament centred around several different reasons. The Nations League gives a competitive edge to international matches which previously had virtually no importance; it allows top teams to play against each other on a more regular basis, while smaller, less-attractive teams can also play regular international football. Moreover, they allow smaller nations to receive high financial benefits from the competition.

Timeline

2011 – Ways of making friendly games more attractive to both teams and supporters are discussed at a UEFA Strategy Meeting in Cyprus

2011-2014 – Top Executive Programme Meetings: talks continue regarding possible formation of new competition

March 2014 –The new tournament is unanimously adopted by 54 member associations following Congress in Astana

December 2014 – Nations League format is finalised

September 2018 – Opening matches of tournament take place around Europe

 

Nations League Facts

  • The first goal ever scored in the Nations League was by Giorgi Chakvetadze, a Georgian midfielder who netted against Kazakhstan.
  • Serbia’s Aleksandar Mitrovic was the top scorer in the opening Nations League tournament, getting on the scoresheet on 6 occasions.
  • There was a total of 333 goals scored in the initial group phase of the inaugural Nations League – an impressive 2.41 goals in each game.
  • The finals of the Nations League are held in one of the countries whose team has made it to the finals. Portugal hosted the first Nations League finals and went on to become champions.

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UEFA Nations League FAQs

✋ How many teams are in the Nations League?

55 teams currently take part in the Nations League.

🔐 How many teams are in each group?

All the teams are divided into 4 groups in 4 leagues. There are 3 or 4 teams per group.

🔵 What does the winning team win?

Apart from bragging rights (of course), the Nations League champions will receive a trophy. One team from each league also gets the chance to qualify for the European Championships.

🇦🇹 What is the point of the Nations League?

The Nations League aims to replace the non-competitive international with a more exciting tournament, whilst simultaneously giving lower ranked teams a chance to qualify for the Euros.

🇨🇭 Where can I watch the Nations League?

You can watch the Nations League live on Sky Sports. England's games will also be shown on ITV.

 

ThePuntersPage Final Say

International friendlies always seem to get in the way of regular club football, resulting in several breaks which disrupt the football season. The introduction of the Nations League makes these breaks far more tolerable, as fans are given a competitive tournament which provides more exciting football and more importantly, lots of betting opportunities. With the first edition of the Nations League proving relatively successful, we are very much looking forward to see what the next tournament brings with it.