UEFA Nations League Draw

The draw for the UEFA Nations League was today on January 24th, 2018. As expected League A with top ranked European teams features some hard match ups. In particular Group A Germany, France and Holland should be a good one despite the fact that the latter team has not done well recently and failed to qualify for World Cup 2018 in Russia. Russsia, Sweden and Turkey in League B’s Group 2 should mean interesting competition as well.

Early favorites for the four winners are likely Germany, Portugal, Spain and Belgium in League A. Slovakia, Sweden, Bosnia and Ireland in B. Scotland, Greece, Bulgaria and Serbia in C. Georgia, Belarus, Azerbaijan and Macedonia in D.

It should be fascinating to see which countries get relegated from each League. Perhaps Iceland, Poland and Switzerland are early candidates to fall off League A. Wales, Austria, Turkey and Slovakia from League B and Lithuania and Cyprus at risk in League C.

The league starts in September 2018.

The UEFA Nations League full draw:

League A

Group 1

Germany
France
Netherlands
 

Group 2

Belgium
Switzerland
Iceland
 

Group 3

Portugal
Italy
Poland
 
 

Group 4

Spain
England
Croatia

League B

Group 1

Slovakia
Ukraine
Czech Republic
 

Group 2

Russia
Sweden
Turkey
 

Group 3

Austria
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Northern Ireland

Group 4

Wales
Republic of Ireland
Denmark

League C

Group 1

Scotland
Albania
Israel
 

Group 2

Hungary
Greece
Finland
Estonia

Group 3

Slovenia
Norway
Bulgaria
Cyprus
 

Group 4

Romania
Serbia
Montenegro
Lithuania
 
 

League D

Group 1

Georgia
Latvia
Kazakhstan
Andorra

Group 2

Belarus
Luxembourg
Moldova
San Marino

Group 3

Azerbaijan
Faroe Islands
Malta
Kosovo
 

Group 4

FYR Macedonia
Armenia
Liechtenstein
Gibraltar

The Unruly UEFA Nations League

The now ousted UEFA president Michel Platini brought many ideas to the table, as a former star player his contribution on the pitch was significant and so it has been off the pitch as an administrator. Under his reign the European Championship was spread around to venues around Europe for the 2020 edition, also in an effort to give more importance to so called national team friendly dates he presented the idea of the Nations League, so friendly matches are actually a contest for a new title. Unfortunately as with his other ideas this is a complicated one that has fans scrambling to understand formats and figure out implications for their team and the European Championship tournament.

Back in 2014 the Nations League idea was presented and divided the (now) 55 UEFA members into four leagues. A for the best to D for the worst ranked teams.

Germany, Portugal, Belgium, Spain, France, England, Switzerland, Italy, Poland, Iceland, Croatia, Netherlands are in league A.

Austria, Wales, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden, Ukraine, Republic of Ireland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Northern Ireland, Denmark, Czech Republic, Turkey in B.

Hungary, Romania, Scotland, Slovenia, Greece, Serbia, Albania, Norway, Montenegro, Israel, Bulgaria, Finland, Cyprus, Estonia, Lithuania in C.

Azerbaijan, FYR Macedonia, Belarus, Georgia, Armenia, Latvia, Faroe Islands, Luxembourg, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Liechtenstein, Malta, Andorra, Kosovo, San Marino, Gibraltar in D.

Teams in league A will be split into four groups of three playing in a home and away format, with the draw on January 24th 2018, the four group winners will then play for the UEFA Nations League title in 2019.

Teams in league B will be in four groups of three as well. The four group winners get promoted to League A and the four sides that finish last relegated to League C.

Teams in league C will be in one group of three and three groups of four. The four group winners get promoted to League B and the four sides that finish last relegated to League D.

Teams in league D will be in four groups of four. The four group winners get promoted to League C.

One team form each group will be able – through a special playoffs in March 2020 – to qualify for the European Championships in that same year. This provides an extra incentive for both strong and weak teams to take these formerly friendly dates more seriously by giving them a route Euros via the Nations League, in addition to the normal Euros qualification process.

Platini’s legacy is still felt even after becoming a victim in the FIFA scandal.