2020-21 UEFA Nations League: Italy grouped with Netherlands, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Poland in Group A1: Group analysis and more
- Analysis of Group A1 of the 2020-21 UEFA Nations League.
The UEFA Nations League, introduced in 2018-19 to add competitive fervour to friendlies between UEFA nations, is into its second edition in 2020-21.
Teams, ranked according to their UEFA co-efficients, 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 gain 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 A1 of the 2020-21 UEFA Nations League where four-time world champions Italy find themselves perched with 2018-20 Nations League runner-up Netherlands, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Poland.
The Azzuri's clash against the Netherlands is undoubtedly the tie of A1. In 5 competitive fixtures, Italy have beaten the Oranje only once (1-0 in the Euro' 76 qualifiers) while drawing twice and losing twice, the most recent loss being a humbling 0-3 reverse at Euro 2008.
11 of Italy's meetings with Poland have been in competitive fixtures. The Italians have had the upper hand in this rivalry, winning 5 times, most recently in the 2018-19 Nations League 1-0 while Poland's lone competitive victory against Italy was a 2-1 result at the 1974 FIFA World Cup.
Against Bosnia and Herzegovina, Italy have won both their competitive fixtures - 2-1 (home) and 3-1 (away) in the Euro 2020 qualfiers.
Italy would fancy their chances of wining this group, having won all 10 of their games at Euro 2020 qualifying for the first time at an Euro qualifying campaign.
Netherlands would be meeting Italy in a competitive fixture for the first time since beating the Azzuri 3-0 at Euro 2008. An youthful Dutch team who qualified for Euro 2020 would need to be wary of an in-form Italy who won all 10 games during the Euro 2020 qualfiers.
The Oranje would however draw confidence from their record of 3 wins and just one defeat in their 5 competitive meetings with the four-time world champions.
Against Poland, Netherlands have played 10 competitive fixtures, winning 4, drawing 4 and losing 3. The two teams haven't met competitively in 26 years since Netherlands beat Poland 3-1 in a 1994 FIFA World Cup qualifier.
Netherlands and Bosnia-Herzegovina have never met before, not even in friendlies.
Poland have just one win (2-1 at the 1974 FIFA World Cup) from their 11 competitive games with Italy while losing 5 times, most recently by a 0-1 verdict in the inaugural UEFA Nations League in 2018-19.
Against the Netherlands, though, Poland have a more competitive rivalry, beating the 1988 Euro champions thrice and losing 4 times in the pair's 10 competitive outings.
Poland have met Bosnia and Herzegovina three times, all of them being friendlies, with the most recent result being a 1-0 win for the Poles in 2011.
#4. Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina are the clear underdogs in this group. In their only competitive meetings with their fellow A1 group members, the Balkan nation lost 2-1 and 3-1 against Italy in the Euro 2020 qualifiers.
Against Poland, Bosnina-Herzegovina have lost 2 of their 3 meetings, all being friendlies, with their most recent meeting resulting in a 1-0 win for the Poles.
Netherlands and Bosnia-Herzegovina met never met before in any fixture, competitive or friendly.
One of Italy or Netherlands is favoured to win the group. The team faring better at Euro 2020 is likely to have the greater momentum as group action in this mini-league kicking off with Italy taking on Bosnia-Herzegovina at home and Poland travelling to the Netherlands.Published 04 Mar 2020, 22:13 IST