Everrything you need to know about the NATIONS LEAGUE as England prepare to face Holland
England meet Holland in Guimaraes on Thursday in their Nations League semi-final clash.
The Three Lions qualified for the inaugural summer finals for the new tournament having progressed from a group which also contained Spain and Croatia.
Here, we answer some questions concerning UEFA’s latest international competition.
What is the Nations League?
The tournament initially involved all 55 UEFA member countries and was introduced mainly as a way to replace meaningless friendlies with increased competition.
What is the tournament format up to and including the finals?
The 55 competing nations were placed into four tiers – A, B, C and D – based on their UEFA ranking and each tier was split into four leagues – 1, 2, 3 and 4 – made up of three or four teams. Between September and November the teams in each league played each other home and away.
The team finishing bottom of each group was relegated to a lower league, except in tier D, while the top team was promoted and the League A group winners (England and Holland as well as fellow semi-finalists Portugal and Switzerland) qualified for the knockout finals.
There will be a third-place play-off as well as the final to decide the first Nations League winner.
Why are the finals in Portugal?
The finals were always going to be held in one of the countries which qualified from League A.
Portugal were the only nation out of the four to apply for the honour, with Poland and Italy the other two nations to initially express an interest.
All three teams were drawn in Group A3 so the winner was always likely to host the finals – with Portugal confirmed by UEFA on December 3, the same day as the finals draw took place.
Where are the matches being played?
Portugal and Switzerland will meet in the first semi-final on Wednesday at Porto’s Estadio do Dragao, with the smaller Estadio D. Afonso Henriques in Guimaraes playing host to England v Holland a day later.
The third-place play-off will be held in Guimaraes with the final taking place back at the Dragao – both matches played on Sunday, June 9.
How does the tournament impact on qualifying for Euro 2020?
The top two teams from 10 Euro 2020 qualifying groups will automatically qualify for the finals.
That will account for 20 of the finalists. The final four places are where the Nations League comes in again.
The four group winners from each league – 16 teams in all – will play off in March 2020 in a bid to secure one of the four remaining places.
The format will be one-off play-off semi-finals, followed by a final, per league, with the winning team from each of leagues A, B, C and D taking the last four spots at the Euros.
If a country has already qualified by the conventional route, their place will go to the next highest-ranked team from their respective Nations League tier.