Next up for the Ethniki…UEFA Nations League & EURO 2020 Qualifiers
After failing to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the Greek national team will now turn their focus to the new UEFA Nations League and the EURO 2020 qualifiers.
With a 0-0 result in the second leg and 4-1 loss on aggregate to Croatia in the World Cup qualifying playoffs, the Ethniki failed to qualify for consecutive major tournaments for the first time since 2002. Although the players, coaching staff, and fans have a bitter taste from the outcome, many agree that Greece took a big step in the right direction after a tragic Euro 2016 qualifying campaign where Greece finished bottom of the group with six points from ten matches.
A few urgent matters involve the national team and “the next day” before preparations begin for the next competitions, the UEFA Nations League and the EURO 2020 qualifiers. These matters include where the Ethniki will play their home games and who will lead the team for the next two years. AGONAsport’s George Tsitsonis gave insight on the coaching situation that surrounds the Galanolefki while AGONAsport’s Shaun Nicolaides looked into the new stadium options for the upcoming home fixtures. Both can be viewed by following the respective links.
THE UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE
Fans of European football football will need to quickly acclimate to UEFA’s newest international competition, the UEFA Nations League. The Nations League will kick off in September 2018, just after the conclusion of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. Although there are mixed emotions about the new competition, the UEFA Nations League will play an important role in international football as four tickets to EURO 2020 will be awarded via the Nations League.
The format of the new competition is a bit confusing, but AGONAsport’s Sarantos Kaperonis has provided an in depth breakdown here. Briefly, the Nations League will consist of four Leagues (A-D) and each league will be divided into four groups. Each nation has been placed in a respective league based on their FIFA Rankings. Greece was placed in League C and will be seeded in pot 2 for the draw that will take place on January 24th, 2018.
In previous years, Euro qualifiers took place in September after the conclusion of the World Cup, however the Nations League will now take place in September, October, and November of next year. The winners of each of the four groups within a League will advance to that League’s Final-4 (total of 16 teams from the four leagues) and the winner of each League’s Final-4, a total of four teams, will qualify for EURO 2020 (will join the other 20 teams that will qualify from the actual EURO 2020 qualifying process).
In other words, the UEFA Nations League Final-4, will act as playoffs for a ticket to EURO 2020 and will take place in March 2020, after the conclusion of the actual EURO 2020 qualifiers (see below). Since 20 teams will have already secured their ticket to EURO 2020 through the actual qualifying process, those teams will not participate in the UEFA Nations League Final-4 (if they clinched a Final-4 berth in September-November 2018) and will be replaced by the next best teams that did not secure a place in the UEFA Nations League Final-4 or EURO 2020 via the qualifying process.
For the Ethniki, it will be important to win their respective group in League C, to clinch a place in the UEFA Nations League Final-4. The Final-4 will act as a backup option if Greece fail to qualify for EURO 2020 via the qualifying process.
EURO 2020 QUALIFIERS
The EURO 2020 qualifiers will begin in March 2019 and the qualifying draw will be held in December 2018. The qualifying process will be straightforward as 10 groups will be formed of five or six teams each and the top two teams from each group will qualify for EURO 2020 (total of 20 teams). Games will be held in March, June, September, October, and November of 2019.
If Greece fail to finish in the top-2 of their qualifying group, they will not qualify for UEFA EURO 2020 unless they have won their respective group in the UEFA Nations League to secure a place in the Nations League Final-4. There, they will be given a second opportunity to qualify for EURO 2020 where the Ethniki will fight with three other teams for a place at EURO 2020.
- 24-Jan-18: UEFA Nations League Draw
- Sep-Nov-18: UEFA Nations League competitions
- Dec-18: UEFA EURO 2020 qualifying draw
- Mar-Nov-19: UEFA EURO 2020 qualifying
- Mar-20: UEFA Nations League Final-4
- Jun-Jul-20: UEFA EURO 2020 FINALS