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The second edition of the UEFA Nations League began in September 20trăng tròn. Here"s a guide for all you need khổng lồ know about the competition.

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JUMPhường TO: Format | Groups | Fixtures | Final Four | Promotion/Relegation | World Cup qualifying | Why is it going ahead? | Coronavirus issues

What is the UEFA Nations League?

It is a competition between the 55 thành viên nations of UEFA, created because "UEFA and its associations wanted more sporting meaning in national team football, with associations, coaches, players và supporters increasingly of the opinion that friendly matches are not providing adequate competition for national teams."

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So this means there are no more international friendlies?

This was the plan, save for pre-tournament warm-up matches and rare blank dates for some nations.

However, with the coronavirus pandemic pausing football in March, UEFA lost the match dates for the Euro 20trăng tròn playoffs. These games were slotted inlớn the international windows of October & November 20trăng tròn, making them treble headers alongside the UEFA Nations League fixtures.

After this, World Cup qualifying then runs through 2021, meaning there will be no friendlies until March 2022 (save for a warm-up match before the rearranged Euro 20trăng tròn next summer). The exception is for some nations in groups of five teams in World Cup qualifying, who will have sầu two spare match dates.

What is the format?

The 55 nations are split into lớn four "Leagues." The strongest nations are in League A, & the weakest in League D.

Leagues A, B & C: Four groups of four nations (16 teams each)League D: One group of four and one group of three (7)

Teams within each group will play each other trang chủ và away.

What were the UEFA Nations League groups?

The draw for the 20đôi mươi UEFA Nations League was held in Amsterdam on March 3.

League A

Group 1: Netherlands, Italy, Bosnia-Herzegovina, PolandGroup 2: Engl&, Belgium, Denmark, IcelandGroup 3: Portugal, France, Sweden, CroatiaGroup 4: Switzerlvà, Spain, Ukraine, Germany

League B

Group 1: Austria, Norway, Northern Irel&, RomaniaGroup 2: Czech Republic, Scotland, Slovatê, IsraelGroup 3: Russia, Serbia, Turkey, HungaryGroup 4: Wales, Finland, Republic of Irel&, Bulgaria

League C

Group 1: Azerbaijan, Luxembourg, Cyprus, MontenegroGroup 2: Armenia, Estonia, North Macedonia, GeorgiaGroup 3: Moldova, Slovenia, Kosovo, GreeceGroup 4: Kazakhschảy, Lithuania, Belarus, Albania

League D

Group 1: Malta, Andorra, Latvia, Faroe IslandsGroup 2: San Marino, Liechtenstein, Gibraltar

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What were the fixture dates?

Matchday 1: Sept. 3-5, 2020Matchday 2: Sept. 6-8, 2020Matchday 3: Oct. 10-11, 2020Matchday 4: Oct. 13-14, 2020Matchday 5: Nov. 14-15, 2020Matchday 6: Nov, 17-18, 2020

Will there actually be UEFA Nations League champions?

Yes. The four group winners from League A -- Belgium, France, Italy & Spain -- will play off in knockout format (semifinals, third-place match and final). This was supposed khổng lồ happen in June 2021, but with triệu Euro 20đôi mươi delayed to next summer, the Nations League finals will now take place in October 2021. The host nation is due to be Italy as winners of group A1.

The finalists will be drawn inkhổng lồ a group of five sầu nations in World Cup qualifying so two dates can remain không lấy phí for the Nations League finals.

Who are the UEFA Nations League holders?

Portugal beat Netherlands in the first UEFA Nations League final.Getty

Portugal won the first UEFA Nations League trophy, beating Netherlands 1-0 in the final in June 2019. Englvà finished third after edging Switzerl& 6-5 on penalties.

Is there promotion và relegation?

Yes. The winners of each group in Leagues B, C & D move sầu up, while the nations bottom of Leagues A và B drop down for the next edition of the Nations League. The four bottom teams in League C will playoff to lớn decide which two nations drop to League D.

So why weren"t Germany relegated for this edition?

Although Germany, Croatia, Icelvà & Pol& finished bottom of their League A groups, the decision khổng lồ exp& khổng lồ 16 nations in Leagues A and B meant no nations were relegated. The format revamp also meant Northern Irelvà, Republic of Irel&, Slovakia và Turkey avoided relegation from League B.

By moving from three nations in a group khổng lồ four, it removed the two dates for international friendlies that existed in the 2018 edition.

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How will the Nations League affect World Cup qualifying?

First of all, the games will be crucial in earning FIFA World Ranking points. The qualifying draw will take place on Dec. 7, with the seedings based on the World Ranking at the kết thúc of the Nations League group stage.

Secondly, the 2020-21 UEFA Nations League will decide the final two teams for the 2022 World Cup playoffs.

The 10 group winners in World Cup qualifying will go direct to Qatar 2022. The 10 group runners-up will enter the playoffs, along with the two best-ranked Nations League group winners who bởi not have a qualification route.

The ranking order for a World Cup playoff, as required, for Nations League group winners is: France, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Wales, Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, Montenegro, Albania, Armenia, Gibraltar, Faroe Islands.

Why are games taking place amid the coronavirut crisis?

UEFA was the only confederation lớn play international football in September 20trăng tròn, and with the international break coming so cthua kém khổng lồ the start of the 2020-21 domestic seasons, many have sầu questioned why the Nations League is still going ahead in these times.

Quite simply, it"s down khổng lồ finances. The Nations League is a crucial source of income to lớn the vast majority of the national associations, even playing games behind closed doors, & the loss of this funding could have sầu a catastrophic effect.

Guaranteed solidarity funding for each country by League is as follows:

League A: €2.25mLeague B: €1.5mLeague C: €1.125mLeague D: €750,000

This income has already been budgeted for, & for the smaller nations it represents a significant proportion of their cash flow.

League winners get a double payment, so for example Scotlvà received a total of €2.25m for winning League C last time, with North Macedonia receiving €1.5m.

The League A finalists also have sầu a prize pool, & in 2019 champions Portugal took trang chủ a total of €10.5m, Netherlands €9m, England €8m và Switzerland €7m.

How could the coronavirus affect the games?

UEFA has published a mix of principles khổng lồ ensure games go ahead and to protect the interests of clubs.

Firstly, if a player has to travel to lớn a country where he would have sầu to quarantine on arrival, or on return, then the club can refuse lớn release hyên ổn for international duty. Many nations will create "travel corridors" for elite sport, but this is not guaranteed.

UEFA has also indicated that it may be necessary to lớn play games in a neutral country if coronavirut issues make it impossible for the host khổng lồ stage it.

Finally, if there are positive COVID-19 tests within a squad, the following process applies (but will never supersede the decisions of a local health authority to prsự kiện a game taking place):