2020-21 UEFA Nations League Group A4: Spain and Germany renew acquaintances, Switzerland and Ukraine look to play spoilsport
- 2020-21 UEFA Nations League Group A4: Group Analysis and more.
The UEFA Nations League, introduced in 2018-19 to add competitive fervor to friendlies between UEFA nations, is into its second edition in 2020-21.
The teams, ranked according to their UEFA coefficient, are clubbed into 4 different leagues - League A (16 teams), League B (16 teams), League C (16 teams) and League D (7 teams). The four winners of the mini-leagues (A1, A2, A3, and A4) in League A, with each mini-league consisting of 4 teams apiece, would contest a knockout semifinal and final in June 2021 to be crowned the Nations League winners.
In the 3 other leagues (B, C, and D), there is promotion and relegation to play for. Each of the 3 league winners from these 3 leagues gains promotion to the higher league, while the two bottom teams in Leagues A and B are relegated.
On that note, let us have a look at Group A4 of the 2020-21 UEFA Nations League, where former World and Euro champions Spain and Germany find themselves together with Switzerland and Ukraine.
Having started their campaign at the inaugural UEFA Nations League in 2018-19, Spain won their first two games before defeat in their next two games put paid to their hopes of topping the group. They eventually finished second behind England.
In the second edition of the revamped Nations League in 2020-21, Spain would lock horns with fellow former European and World champions Germany, Switzerland and Ukraine. The 2014 World Cup champions are expected to provide Spain the toughest test.
Both Spain and Germany won their respective qualifying groups en route to qualifying for Euro 2020. In recent meetings, there has been very little to separate the two sides as they vie with each other to win Group A4.
In their last two competitive fixtures against Germany, La Furia Roja won by solitary goals - in the 2008 Euro final and the 2010 FIFA World Cup semifinals. In seven other competitive fixtures though, Spain have won only once while Germany had their fourth and latest win (2-0) at Euro 1988.
Spain have 3 wins from their 5 competitive meetings with Switzerland. However, in their last such meeting at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Spain lost by a solitary goal against the Alpine nation.
All 5 of Spain's games with Ukraine have been in competitive fixtures. La Furia Roja are on a 4-game winning streak against them, encompassing matches at two Euro qualifying campaigns and the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Ukraine's first competitive meeting with Spain ended in a 2-2 stalemate in the Euro 2004 qualifiers.
Four-time world champions Germany ended last in a three-team group containing Netherlands and France in their inaugural Nations League campaign. They would be looking for their first win in the competition after drawing 2 and losing 2 of their 4 games in 2018-19.
Germany escaped relegation from League A as the Nations League competition underwent a revamp in 2020-21.
2010 FIFA World Cup champions Spain are expected to be Germany's toughest competitors. Die Mannschaft haven't beaten Spain in 3 competitive meetings since a 2-0 win at Euro 1988.
All 4 of Germany's competitive meetings with Switzerland have materialised at the FIFA World Cup, the last of them resulting in a convincing 5-0 win over the Alpine nation. Switzerland's only competitive win against the Mannschaft came with a 2-1 verdict at the 1938 FIFA World Cup.
Against Ukraine, Germany have won 3 and drawn 2 of their 5 competitive fixtures. They beat the East European nation 2-0 at the 2016 FIFA World Cup where Germany crashed out at the group stage.
Ukraine held Germany to 0-0 and 1-1 draws in successive FIFA World Cup qualification campaigns in 1998 and 2002 respectively.
Switzerland have only one competitive win apiece against their fancied UEFA Nations League group A4 members Spain and Germany.
The Alpine nation's win (1-0) against Spain came in the pair's last competitive meeting at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, while their only such win against the Germans came at the 1938 FIFA World Cup.
Against Ukraine, Switzerland crashed out in a penalty shootout defeat in the second round of the 2006 FIFA World Cup following a goalless 120 minutes.
Ukraine are the least fancied team in group A4.
The East European nation have no wins against Spain, Germany and Switzerland in 11 cumulative competitive fixtures.
Realistically, Ukraine would look to avoid last place in the group, which would keep them in League A at the next edition of the Nations League.
Given their pedigree in international competitions, Germany vs Spain would be one of the marquee clashes of the 2021 Nations League. One of these two teams is expected to win group A4 and progress to the semifinals of the Nations League in June 2021.Published 05 Mar 2020, 18:52 IST