European football will see a whole new way in which the friendlies will be played as UEFA has finally introduced the UEFA Nations League, which was being talked about since 2011. It will take place over a span of 2 years, within the existing international calendar.
The major aim of this new nations tournament is to have more meaningful friendlies with a touch of more interest. With this tournament in place, the clash between very strong and very weak teams, which was otherwise would be meaningless, will be avoided.
The draws have been completed today, and the first ever edition of the new tournament has taken shape. The first edition will start in September 2018, after the 2018 FIFA world cup in Russia. The winner of this tournament will win in those years, which will not have a world cup or Euros scheduled. That is 2019, 2021, 2023 and so on.
How will the tournament work
With the introduction of Kosovo as a member, UEFA now has 55 associations under it. These 55 Nations will be divided into 4 leagues, namely A(1st division), B(2nd division), C(3rd division), D(4th division). The leagues have been made based on the UEFA coefficients, which will mean, teams, competing against those who at their level. Group A and group B will have 12 teams each, followed by group C with 15 teams and group D with 16 teams. The teams in each division have been further divided into 4 group of 3/4 teams each. Divisions A and B, which have 12 teams each have only 3 teams in each group. Division D, having 16 teams has 4 teams in each group, which Division C, having 15 teams has 3 groups of 4amd 1 group of 3.
Within each group, the teams will play each other home and away in September, October and November 2018. Each group winner from the top League A will qualify for a one-legged Semi-Finals, followed by a final, which will determine the winner of the UEFA Nations League. The 4 teams which finish bottom in their respective groups will be relegated to the lower division, while the group winners from the lower divisions will be promoted to the immediate next division.
Matchday 1: September 6-9, 2018
Matchday 2: September 9-11, 2018
Matchday 3: October 11-13, 2018
Matchday 4: October 14-16, 2018
Matchday 5: November 15-17, 2018
Matchday 6: November 18-20, 2018
Finals: June 5-9, 2019
Qualification for the Euros.
There will be regular Qualification for the Euros among the 55 nations, with 5 groups of 5 teams each, and 5 groups of 6 teams each. Among these 10 groups, the top 2 from each group will book their place at the Euros. The remaining 4 slots will be decided based on the outcome of the UEFA Nations League. This acts as a second chance to qualify for the Euros, based on their performance in the UEFA Nations League. However, the first preference will be given to the 16 groups winners from all the 4 divisions. If any group winner, has already secured Qualification through the conventional method of Qualification, then the next team in that group will take the place. If any group cannot fill 4 teams, then the next best-ranked side from the lower league will take its place. These 16 teams, which haven’t yet qualified for the Euros, will have a second chance to qualify.
These 16 teams from the 4 groups will play Semi-Finals and Finals, to have 4 winners, who will join the other 20 teams who have already qualified.
As this new tournament will take place within the specified international calendar, there will be no additional matches played, which will prevent any additional workload on the players. This tournament, now almost marks the end of random European friendlies with the random friendlies now set to be played only as pre-tournament warm-up matches.