The fourth edition of the Nations League was drawn on Thursday. Germany will face a special opponent at the tournament, which also has significance for the 2026 World Cup qualification.
In the draw held on Thursday (February 8, 2024) in Paris, the groups of leagues A, B, C and D were determined. Despite the recent sobering results in international matches and tournaments, Germany is still among the elite and got the Netherlands, Hungary and Bosnia-Herzegovina were drawn. Germany plays in League A. There, four groups with four teams each are drawn.
“This is an interesting group with good games,” said national coach Julian Nagelsmann afterwards. “Challenging, as people like to say after such draws. They are good, tough group opponents,” said Völler. The game against the Netherlands “is of course an absolute highlight”.
Groups League A Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Group 4 Croatia Italy Netherlands Spain Portugal Belgium Hungary Denmark Poland France Germany Switzerland Scotland Israel Bosnia-Herzegovina Serbia
The German team was in pot 3, and there is a home and away game between the teams in each group. The DFB team will play a total of six games in the Nations League group phase.
How will the Nations League work in the future?
The group winners then meet the group runners-up in a quarter-final with two legs. At the end there is the final tournament with four teams.
Where will the final tournament take place?
UEFA stipulates that all associations with a team in League A must in principle offer to host the final tournament if the requested stadiums are available in the country. Once the quarter-finals are reached, the UEFA Executive Committee will select one of the quarter-finals in December 2024, the winner of which will host the tournament. In principle, applications from other countries are also possible.
The Spanish national players will celebrate with the UEFA Nations League trophy in 2023
What does this have to do with the 2026 World Cup?
As has been usual since the 2021 European Championship, the Nations League will be linked to qualification for the following major tournament – this time with the 2026 World Cup in the USA, Mexico and Canada. UEFA will have 16 starting places in the expanded World Cup with 48 teams, up from 13 so far.
The twelve group winners of the twelve qualifying groups are directly qualified for the World Cup. The twelve runners-up in the twelve qualifying groups play in the playoffs. The four best group winners in the Nations League – if they have not already qualified for the World Cup – also play in the playoffs. These 16 teams then play the four other European World Cup participants in four tournament brackets with semi-finals and finals (one game each).
How do promotion and relegation work?
The four bottom teams in League A are relegated, the group winners in League B are promoted. There are relegation games between the third-placed teams in League A and the runners-up in League B. The same regulation applies between leagues B and C.
There are fewer relegation games between Leagues C and D because League D only has six teams.
The UEFA Nations League Cup
Are there more international matches now?
No, but more Nations League. The qualification for the 2026 World Cup will be reduced: in the future, only ten match days will be played there instead of the previous twelve, with smaller groups of four or five teams. UEFA will use the two vacant dates for the new quarter-finals and the relegation games.
The games will all take place after the Euro 2024:
1st matchday: September 5th – 7th, 2024 2nd matchday: September 8th – 10th, 2024 3rd matchday: October 10th – 12th, 2024 4th matchday: October 13th – 15th, 2024 5th matchday: October 14th – November 16, 2024 6th matchday: November 17 – 19, 2024 Relegation and quarter-finals: March 20 – 25, 2025 Final tournament: June 4 – 8, 2025
The logo of the Nations League – there is a lot of criticism of the competition.
Nations League – why?
The Nations League was introduced to give more importance to international matches apart from the qualifying competitions for World Cups and European Championships. The final tournament should become more important over time and the connection to the qualification for the major tournaments should ensure an upgrade. The league system should mean more games at eye level; smaller countries can hope for more money through UEFA’s central marketing.
However, many fans and players are still unfamiliar with the competition. “The Nations League is unimportant in my eyes,” said Belgian international Kevin De Bruyne in 2022. “These are just hyped-up friendly games, I’m not looking forward to them.”
How have the previous Nations League seasons gone?
The Nations League has been held three times so far. The previous winners:
2022/23: Spain (in the Netherlands) 2020/21: France (in Italy) 2018/19: Portugal (in Portugal)
In 2018/19, the Nations League was played in groups of three, and Germany came last in their group. A change in mode saved the DFB from relegation to League B. In 2020/21, Germany took second place despite the legendary 6-0 defeat in Spain and third place in 2022/23. The DFB has never qualified for the final tournament.
National coach Joachim Löw at 0:6 in Spain