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UEFA Nations League: How It Works, Impact on International Friendlies

It is a common complaint among football fans and experts alike that international friendlies, while necessary, don’t always bring out the best in players on a competitive level. Europe’s governing body UEFA agrees, which is why the revamped Nations League will kick off from September 6.

News18 Sports

Updated:September 4, 2018, 4:31 PM IST
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UEFA Nations League: How It Works, Impact on International Friendlies
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It is a common complaint among football fans and experts alike that international friendlies, while necessary, don’t always bring out the best in players on a competitive level. Europe’s governing body UEFA agrees, which is why the revamped Nations League will kick off from September 6.

The new league will not only aim to inject a sense of purpose into international fixtures but will also lessen the number of meaningless friendlies that take place. The league will see all 55 UEFA members split into four “Leagues” – A, B, C and D which are then further divided into groups. All teams within a group will play each other in home and away fixtures.

The strongest teams are in League A while the weakest are in D. The teams are ranked on the basis of their UEFA rankings, which differs from FIFA rankings because the former factors in only competitive games.

Additionally, the League will actually feature a winner: the four group winners from League A will meet in the semi-finals, with a final and third-place playoff to follow. However, its biggest impact will be on the UEFA Euro qualifying process.

Qualifying for the European Championships will be pushed back from September 2018 to March 2019 and the rankings for the draw will be done on the basis of how well a team performs in the Nations League.

Additionally, Euro qualifying sees eight of the best third-placed teams in each respective group make it to the play-offs. However, those spots will now go to all the group winners in the Nations League.

Since most group winners will likely qualify automatically, this gives the best-performing teams in the Nations League a chance to make it to the play-offs and eases their route to the tournament.

At present, the idea seems to be one that UEFA are invested in for the long-run – the next Nations League is already scheduled for 2020.
| Edited by: Shayne Dias
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