October 11 – The pots for the first ever UEFA Nations League have been confirmed, with the Netherlands, who failed to qualify for the World Cup, being handed some consolation by snatching a top spot from Wales following the final round of World Cup qualifying.
The new tournament, beginning next year, will see European nations competing against each other in a league format. All 55 European nations will take part in the competition which starts in September 2018 and will provide four qualifying spots for Euro 2020. It concludes with the Final Four tournament in the summer of 2019.
The idea behind the tournament is to do away with meaningless friendlies and give everyone, big and small, the chance to play competitive football.
UEFA says it “creates more meaningful and competitive matches for teams and a dedicated calendar and structure for national team football.”
By virtue of the format, lower-tier countries are now guaranteed one of the 24 qualifying slots for the next Euros. There will also be promotion and relegation between divisions.
The Netherlands’ 2-0 win over Sweden in their final game in World Cup qualifying Group D took them above Wales, into 12th place in UEFA’s co-efficient rankings, to claim the final place in League A.
Each of the four tiers will contain four groups of three or four teams, with these decided in a draw in January 2018. The composition of the four pots is as follows:
Germany, Portugal, Belgium, Spain, France, England, Switzerland, Italy, Poland, Iceland, Croatia, Netherlands
Austria, Wales, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden, Ukraine, Republic of Ireland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Northern Ireland, Denmark, Czech Republic, Turkey
Hungary, Romania, Scotland, Slovenia, Greece, Serbia, Albania, Norway, Montenegro, Israel, Bulgaria, Finland, Cyprus, Estonia, Lithuania
Azerbaijan, FYR Macedonia, Belarus, Georgia, Armenia, Latvia, Faroe Islands, Luxembourg, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Liechtenstein, Malta, Andorra, Kosovo, San Marino, Gibraltar
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