How Does the UEFA Nations League Work?

  • UEFA Nations League was established to replace friendlies
  • 55 European teams are divided into four divisions (leagues)
  • Portugal is the defending champion
How Does the UEFA Nations League Work?

The draw of the 2020-21 UEFA Nations League will be tonight at 6 pm in Amsterdam at UEFA’s congress. Now we can find out which teams will face each other in the groups of the four leagues. As it is a relatively new tournament and this will be only the second edition, it might be worth explaining again how the UEFA Nations League works.

What is the UEFA Nations League?

This new tournament, called Nations League was introduced by UEFA two years ago instead of meaningless friendly games. The purpose of it was to improve the quality of national team football. Though it’s not as significant as the qualifying games for the European or World Cup, it still has some meaning. The league allows teams to play against teams on a similar level and help prepare for other important games. The winner of the Nations League can also add another title to the nation’s football history. And in general, it attracts more interest from fans and the national associations as the friendlies before.

So how does the UEFA Nations League actually work?

Let’s start at the beginning, how the 55 European teams are making up the groups. Actually there have been some changes since the last tournament. There are still four leagues, League A, B, C, and D, and in each league, there are four different groups. The teams are allocated to leagues based on the overall ranking following the 2018/19 inaugural UEFA Nations League. The number of teams in the first two leagues has been increased from 12 to 16. So it means League A contains the best 16 teams. Then the next 16 teams are in League B and so on. In the last division, League D there are only 7 teams now, that you can bet on at Bet356 Sportsbook.

How Does the UEFA Nations League Work?
UEFA – Image via Flickr

The UEFA Nations League rules

Next, we will explain more about how the UEFA Nations League works. In each group, the teams play each other home and away, just like in other qualifying tournaments.  The winners of the groups are automatically promoted to the next higher league, while the last ones from each group got relegated to the lower leagues next season. In the top division, League A the four group winners are going through to the National League finals. The finals will be hosted in one of the qualified countries, where the teams will play each other. From League C only two teams are relegated to League D as they only have two teams there. To decide which teams are the unlucky ones, they meet each other in the play-offs. The team which scores more will stay in League C.

What are the benefits of the Nations League?

As we mentioned, the purpose of the new tournament was to make more competitive games that fans can enjoy more. Surely everyone can mention a friendly game when a big team hosted or visited a relatively weaker one, and they didn’t really give 100% of their knowledge. Of course, the aim of these games is just to show the stars to the fans, who are not likely to see them in other conditions. For example, Hungary hosted Uruguay last November on the occasion of the opening of their new stadium. Fans could see all the stars like Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani who are not very likely to play against the Hungarian players in other tournaments.

How Does the UEFA Nations League Work?
European Championship

It will also offer a chance to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The two highest-ranked Nations League group winners who didn’t qualify for the World Cup directly will join the 10 runners-up from the qualifying groups. These 12 teams will go to the plays-off from which another three teams will qualify for the World Cup. The first edition of the league offered a chance for the teams to qualify for the Euro2020 as well. The 16 best teams based on their performance in the Nations League who didn’t qualify for the Euros got the chance to take part in the play-offs, which were organized into four groups. The four group winners can join the 20 already qualified teams in June.

UEFA Nations League 2020/21 guide

Last year Portugal won the first-ever Nations League defeating the Netherlands in the final as online sportsbooks in Portugal were announcing it.  England and Switzerland were the other two group winners in League A, they finished in the 3rd and 4th place at the end.

The next UEFA Nations League will start in the first week in September and finish on the 17th of November. The finals will be in next June for the four group winners in League A. So let’s see the groups a bit more closely.

The Groups

In League A we can find the strongest teams from defending champion Portugal to world champion France, also Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, and England. Here is the list of all the teams: Portugal (holders), Netherlands, England, Switzerland, Belgium, France, Spain, Italy, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ukraine, Denmark, Sweden, Croatia, Poland, Germany, Iceland.

In League B we have the next 16 teams including Wales, Serbia, and the Czech Republic. Here are the teams: Russia, Austria, Wales, Czech Republic, Scotland, Norway, Serbia, Finland, Slovakia, Turkey, Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Bulgaria, Israel, Hungary, Romania.

In League C we have some smaller teams, Greece definitely looks like one of the strongest teams here: Greece, Albania, Montenegro, Georgia, North Macedonia, Kosovo, Belarus, Cyprus, Estonia, Slovenia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Moldova.

And finally, in League D we have the following 7 nations: Gibraltar, Faroe Islands, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Andorra, Malta, San Marino.

So tonight we get to know the members of each group. You can follow the draw live on And if you want to make these games more interesting, you can bet on them.  The odds for the games should be available before the start of the tournament on most online gambling sites in Portugal and all over the world.

You can see more about odds at UEFA 2020/21 here at Bet365 Sportsbook.

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