2018 - Football in Europe

The UEFA Nations League

Football in Russia - Public Viewing in the Netherlands - 2018 - during the World Cup
In September 2018, the UEFA’s most recent innovation for international football was launched: the UEFA Nations League. Its basic purpose is to eliminate ‘meaningless’ international friendlies in favor of a competitive tournament in the traditional league form.

UEFA Nations League

How does it work?

The Leagues. All 55 UEFA member states are part of the Nations League. According to their UEFA Ranking, they were divided into four leagues, with League A including Europe’s 12 best ranked teams, League B the 12 next highest ranked, and so on. Within the leagues, teams are further split up in groups, so not every League A team will play every other League A team. The Leagues are formatted as such:

  • League A – 12 Teams – four groups of 3
  • League B – 12 Teams – four groups of 3
  • League C – 15 Teams – one group of 3 & three groups of 4
  • League D – 16 Teams – four groups of 4

Playoffs. The four group leaders of League A are automatically qualified for the June 2019 playoffs, consisting of two semi-finals, a final and a match for 3rd. This mini-tournament will be hosted by the winner of group 3. This year, the options include Portugal, Poland or Italy. The specific pairings will be drawn by lot on the 3rd of December.

League Winners & Losers. To increase competitiveness and retain fairness, the group winners of leagues B, C and D will be promoted to the next higher league. Similarly, the teams coming in last in their group are automatically demoted.   

UEFA Euro Championship Qualification. Except for the fact that no nation is automatically qualified as host nation anymore, the general format of the qualification session remains unchanged. Of the ten (Nations League-independent) groups, the relative first- and second-placed teams qualify, making up 20 of the 24 teams starting in the tournament. The remaining four spots will be determined by the Nations League. The four group leaders per league qualify for the Euro Championship-Playoffs held in March 2020. Here, the best group leader of each league will further be qualified for the Euro Championship in Summer 2020. If, however, the team that wins the league playoffs is already qualified via the usual qualification system, the next best team within the playoff group will take their spot and qualify for the traditional tournament.

Germany. Germany has to play against France and the Netherlands in League A, Group 1.