5 things to know about the UEFA Nations League
Come 2018, international friendlies are going to be a thing of the past. While we all hate international breaks with their tendencies to spring multiple injuries to several top stars and an even tighter fixture congestion for the players, they do seem to catch the eye whenever a mouth-watering match presents itself.
While the coming international break is of paramount importance to several top teams with the World Cup futures of most of the teams from Europe and South America to be decided, most international breaks are strewn with meaningless friendlies where most of them bear a clear gulf in rankings and class between the two sides.
But gone are the days when France taking on Andorra used to be nothing more than an injury-scare for fans around the globe for their favourite superstars, at least for the fans in Europe.
It is all about to change come next year when UEFA's international version of the Champions League, Nations League kicks off. Let's take a look at what to expect of the UEFA's bid to revitalize international football.
#1 How is it going to pan out?
As the name suggests, the competition follows a league based system where the 55 UEFA member teams will play in a 4-division league system named League A, B, C and D. The division of these leagues is solely based on the UEFA coefficient rankings.
The top 12 highest ranked teams qualify directly for the 1st division, League A, where they are then split into a further 4 groups of 3 teams each which will play one another in the international breaks of the winter of 2018 over two-legged home away ties.
The 4 group winners will then play out single legged semifinals at a neutral venue in June 2019, winners of which will compete to be the first UEFA Nations League Champions.
The Leagues B, C and D consist of the next 12, 15 and 16 best teams respectively. The three lower leagues are also divided into 4 groups and follow the same pattern of matches. The lower leagues will fight it out for promotion while higher leagues will have to be wary of promotion as 4 teams will switch after each edition to the higher or lower league.
The bottom-most team of each group goes down to the corresponding group of the lower league whose winner is promoted to the upper division.