Remember enjoying your club side’s weekend fixtures? Remember how you felt when the international break was approaching? Well fear no more, because international fixtures will soon be a thing of the past. UEFA have announced the introduction of the Nations League, a competition that aims to further the progression of international development.
But what is the structure of the tournament and how will it play out after it’s debut season in 2018? Here are six things to know about the new international trophy on offer…
1. It Will Take Place Every Two Years
The competition is set to be introduced in 2018, and will be played every two years. It will take place during the existing international calendar when friendly fixtures are usually played.
The competition won’t get in the way of World Cup or European Championship qualifying games, meaning that players should still be fresh for the two current international tournaments.
2. It Aims to Ensure Progression of International Football
With many fans against international football, and a lot of managers fearing for their player’s health during friendlies, the Nations League will ensure friendlies will become more competitive.
There will be more to the games being played rather than players just representing their country, adding to the competitiveness of each fixture.
With the games replacing international friendlies, players will still be susceptible to injuries, but it will keep them motivated for when they return to their clubs.
3. All 55 UEFA Member Teams Will Feature
The competition will see all 55 UEFA member associations take part, with the hopes of continuing the development of some of the weaker teams alongside the best.
Teams from the heights of Germany and Spain to minnows Azerbaijan and Macedonia will all feature, with each side aiming to progress the development of their sides.
4. Teams Will Be Promoted and Relegated
Each league will be divided into four groups made up of three or four teams, depending on how many sides are in the league.
Each side will play both home and away fixtures, and after all games have been played, the top teams of groups in leagues B, C and D will be promoted, whereas the bottom side will be relegated. This will then shape the leagues for the following competition, with sides shifting as they improve or struggle.
5. League A Group Winners Will Compete for the Title
Teams in Group A will be split into four groups of three. The winners of each group will progress through to the next stage of the competition.
They will then be drawn into semi-final ties, with the winners facing each other for the first Nations League trophy. The losers will play each other in a third-place play-off to determine the overall standings for the competition.
6. The Group Stage Draw Will Take Place Soon
The group stage draw is due to take place on January 24, 2018, at the SwissTech Convention Centre. This will set teams up to prepare either before or after the World Cup – depending on each side’s qualification result – to start the Nations League at the beginning of September.
The games will run across September, October and November of 2018, with the finals to be played between June 5-9 2019.