UEFA Announce Newest Competition...The UEFA Nations League
UEFA have announced their newest competition...The UEFA Nations League. The league will include Europe’s National Teams with hopes of bringing new excitement to the international calendar. The new competition will also affect the Euro 2020 qualification process. AGONAsport's Sarantos Kaperonis has all the details below.
The rejuvenation of national team football is here with UEFA’s newest competition, The UEFA Nations League. The goal is to improve the quality and standing of national team football throughout the calendar year by replacing most international friendlies and adding a new competitive aspect to the international scene. The competition will of course provide more revenue for the confederation and also for each Nation’s federation through various sources including broadcasting rights, ticket sales, sponsors, and others. On the flip side, the burden will increase for the players as more games will be played during the season.
Let's take everything from the beginning as we get a sense of what the UEFA Nations League is and the role it will play in EURO 2020 qualifying.
THE BASIC FORMAT
- The competition has three stages:
- The UEFA Nations League: Involves all 55 teams, separated into four LEAGUES (A-D) and each league is divided into four GROUPS (1-4) with games played from Sep-Nov 2018
- The Final Four: The four GROUP winners from LEAGUE A will compete in the Final-4 for the UEFA Nations League title in June 2019.
- The Playoffs: Will serve as a second chance for teams to qualify for UEFA EURO 2020. It will involve the four GROUP winners from each LEAGUE, totaling 16 teams, and will be held in March 2020. The winner of each LEAGUE'S playoff will earn a ticket to the UEFA EURO 2020 Finals (a total of four teams, one from each LEAGUE).
- The 55 participating national teams are split into FOUR LEAGUES, A–B–C–D, according to their UEFA ranking strength. Greece have been placed in LEAGUE C.
- LEAGUE A will include the top-ranked teams while LEAGUE D the lowest-ranked sides. Each LEAGUE will have FOUR GROUPS.
- LEAGUE A and B will consist of four GROUPS of three teams (12 teams in each LEAGUE)
- LEAGUE C will comprise of one group of three teams and three groups of four teams (15 teams). Greece is in LEAGUE C, GROUP 2 with Estonia, Finland, and Hungary.
- LEAGUE D will be formed by four groups of four teams (16 teams)
- In the first edition of the competition, the participating sides will be placed into EACH LEAGUE according to the UEFA national team coefficient rankings (ranking as per 16 October 2017, i.e. conclusion of 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers)
- At the end of the season in EACH LEAGUE , the four GROUP winners are promoted to the next highest LEAGUE (i.e. from league B to league A, or play in the Final Four, see below) and the last placed teams from EACH GROUP are relegated to the next lowest LEAGUE (i.e. from league B to league C) for the next competition to be played in 2020.
- The winners of each GROUP in LEAGUE A will partake in the FINAL FOUR in June 2019, with the winner being crowned the UEFA Nations League Champion. Only teams from LEAGUE A can compete in the Final Four.
- In addition, the UEFA Nations League will provide teams with a second chance opportunity to qualify for the UEFA EURO final tournament. Four nations will qualify for Euro 2020 through the Nations League PLAY-OFF matches which will take place in March 2020 (see below), just a few months before EURO 2020 kicks-off in June 2020.
THE EURO 2020 QUALIFYING FORMAT
The UEFA EURO qualifying process, which is a separate competition from the Nations League, is now more streamlined. The format is simple: There will be 10 qualifying groups formed with the top two teams from each group qualifying automatically (20 teams) for EURO 2020. The other 4 places will be awarded to the UEFA Nations League play-off winners, totaling the 24 teams in the Euro 2020 Final Tournament (there will be no host nation for Euro 2020).
- The European Qualifiers for UEFA EURO 2020 begin in March 2019. There will be two matchdays in each of March, June, September, October and November 2019.
- In total, there will be five groups of five teams and five groups of six teams (ten groups in all) playing over ten matchdays (home and away fixtures, the same number as now). The winner and runner-up in each of the ten groups will qualify automatically for the UEFA EURO 2020 final tournament (June 2020).
HOW THE NATIONS LEAGUE COMES INTO EURO 2020 QUALIFYING
- The four remaining UEFA EURO 2020 places will be allocated to the winners of the UEFA Nations League play-off matches which will take place in March 2020 (right before the final tournament in June 2020). Please note, the Nations League matches will take place from Sep-Nov 2018 while the Nations League playoff matches will take place 1.5 years later in March 2020.
- Each GROUP winner within each LEAGUE in the UEFA Nations League, will be granted a place in the Nations League play-offs, totaling 16 teams. The 16 teams are paired with a team from their respective LEAGUE (ie. group winners from league B can only play other group winners from league B - except in certain cases, explained below) and as a result, the winner of each LEAGUE playoff will book their ticket to the UEFA EURO 2020 Finals. Thus League A, League B, League C, and League D will each earn a representative at Euro 2020.
- The winner of each LEAGUE's playoffs will qualify for Euro 2020 (4 teams).
- If any GROUP winners have already qualified for Euro 2020 through the European Qualifiers (conclude in Nov 2019), then their play-off position will be allocated to the next best-ranked team in that LEAGUE, taking into account the global ranking within the LEAGUE. If there are no teams to pull from that same LEAGUE (i.e all have already qualified for EURO 2020 via the qualifying process), the best ranked team from the next lowest LEAGUE will move up to play in the playoff in the higher league. (i.e. if all teams from league A have qualified for Euro 2020 through the actual qualifying process, then the best ranked team from league B will be given a playoff spot in League A). For a an explanation video view here.
- The semi-finals of each LEAGUE playoff will be a single game elimination (hosted by the better ranked side) and the final will also consist of a single game (determined by a draw) to determine each of the four Nations League play-off winners that will qualify for Euro 2020.
WHEN WILL UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE TAKE PLACE
- The UEFA Nations League group draw will take place on January 24th, 2017.
- The UEFA Nations League group games will be held over six matchdays in September, October and November 2018. Each team within a GROUP will play their opponents in home and away fixtures.
- The Final Four competition for the teams that win the four GROUPS within LEAGUE A is scheduled for June 2019.
- For the Final Four tournament, the four group winners of UEFA Nations League LEAGUE A, will play in a knockout format (semi-finals and final) in June 2019 to become the UEFA Nations League champion. The semi-final fixtures will be decided by a draw and the venue will be at a neutral site.
- The play-off matches (for Euro 2020 qualifying) will be staged on March 26-31, 2020 (see above).
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