Wednesday 12 December 2018

Everything you need to know about the UEFA Nations League draw

Ireland manager Martin O'Neill, right, with assistant manager Roy Keane
Ireland manager Martin O'Neill, right, with assistant manager Roy Keane

The draw for the inaugural UEFA Nations League takes place in Lausanne tomorrow (Wednesday, 11am Irish time) by which time it is expected that Martin O'Neill will have signed his new Ireland contract.

Ireland are one of 12 countries in League B (there are four leagues, from A to D) of the new Nations League (which replaces the traditional friendly games).

There will be four groups of three teams, so we will face three from: Austria, Wales, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden, Ukraine, Bosnia, Northern Ireland, Denmark, Czech Republic or Turkey.

If Ireland win their Nations League group, they will be promoted to League A and standings from the Nations League will define the seedings for the draw of the Euro 2020 qualifiers proper.

TIMELINE

September 2018: Nations League matches start with games across three double-headers in September, October and November 2018. (Winning the group in the Nations League could be used as a ticket to the playoffs for Euro 2020.)

December 2018: Draw for Euro 2020 qualifiers made.

March 2019: The Euro 2020 qualifiers proper start and will be played in March, June, September, October and November 2019, with 10 groups  five groups of five teams, five groups of six). The winner and runner-up in each of the 10 groups qualifies automatically for the Euro 2020 finals.

June 2019: Finals of Nations League where winners of four groups in League A play off. (Ireland, in League B for now, not involved until they win promotion to League A.)

March 2020: Play-off matches for the remaining four places at the Euro 2020 finals. Teams who win their group in the Nations League, but who did not qualify via Euro qualifiers, offered a route to Euro 2020 finals, with one team from each of the 4 Leagues promised a play-off place. So teams from League D (Armenia, Latvia, Moldova, Faroes)  have a chance of qualification.

June 2020: Euro 2020 finals start, Dublin one of 13 host cities.

 

FORMAT

All 55 UEFA members will compete in the tournament designed to replace traditional international flriendlies.

There will be four leagues with each countries' world ranking determining if they will play in Group A, B, C or D. Group A (the strongest group) and B will be made up of 12 teams with B with C consisting of 15 and 16 respectively.

Each group will then be broken down into 'mini groups' with Groups A and B split into four groups of three; C will be three four-team groups and one group of four wile D will contain four groups of four.

Matches will be played on a home and away basis.

 

Here is a breakdown of the groups from uefa.com

League A

Pot 1: Germany, Portugal, Belgium, Spain

Pot 2: France, England, Switzerland, Italy

Pot 3: Poland, Iceland, Croatia, Netherlands

Teams will be split into four groups of three, with the group winners then contesting the UEFA Nations League Finals (semi-finals, third-place match and final) in June 2019 to become the UEFA Nations League winners. One host country will be appointed in December 2018 from among the finalist teams.

The four teams that finish bottom of their groups will be relegated to League B for the 2020 edition.

The top four ranked teams that do not qualify for UEFA EURO 2020 will enter a play-off in March 2020, with one finals place on offer.

League B

Pot 1: Austria, Wales, Russia, Slovakia

Pot 2: Sweden, Ukraine, Republic of Ireland, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Pot 3: Northern Ireland, Denmark, Czech Republic, Turkey

Teams will be split into four groups of three.

Due to a decision of the UEFA Executive Committee, Russia and Ukraine cannot be draw in the same group.

The four group winners are promoted to League A, with the four sides that finish bottom relegated to League C for the next competition to be played in 2020.

The top four ranked teams that do not qualify for UEFA EURO 2020 will enter a play-off in March 2020, with one finals place on offer

League C

Pot 1: Hungary, Romania, Scotland, Slovenia

Pot 2: Greece, Serbia, Albania, Norway

Pot 3: Montenegro, Israel, Bulgaria, Finland

Pot 4: Cyprus, Estonia, Lithuania

Teams will be split into one group of three (containing teams from Pots 1, 2 and 3 only) and three groups of four.

Due to winter venue restrictions, a group can contain a maximum of two of these teams: Norway, Finland, Estonia, Lithuania.

The four group winners are promoted to League B, with the four sides that finish bottom relegated to League D for the 2020 edition.

The top four ranked teams that do not qualify for UEFA EURO 2020 will enter a play-off in March 2020, with one finals place on offer.

League D

Pot 1: Azerbaijan, FYR Macedonia, Belarus, Georgia

Pot 2: Armenia, Latvia, Faroe Islands, Luxembourg

Pot 3: Kazakhstan, Moldova, Liechtenstein, Malta

Pot 4: Andorra, Kosovo, San Marino, Gibraltar

Teams will be split into four groups of four.

Due to a decision of the UEFA Executive Committee, Armenia and Azerbaijan cannot be draw in the same group.

Due to excessive travel restrictions, any group can contain a maximum of one of these pairs: Andorra & Kazakhstan, Faroe Islands & Kazakhstan, Gibraltar & Kazakhstan, Gibraltar & Azerbaijan

The four group winners are promoted to League C for the 2020 edition.

The top four ranked teams that do not qualify for UEFA EURO 2020 will enter a play-off in March 2020, with one finals place on offer.

 

KEY DATES

Matchday 1: 6–8 September 2018

Matchday 2: 9–11 September 2018

Matchday 3: 11–13 October 2018

Matchday 4: 14–16 October 2018

Matchday 5: 15–17 November 2018

Matchday 6: 18–20 November 2018

Finals draw: early December 2018

Finals: 5–9 June 2019

UEFA EURO 2020 play-off draw: 22 November 2019

UEFA EURO 2020 play-offs: 26–31 March 2020

 

HOW TO WATCH THE DRAW

The draw will be screened live on Sky Sports and streamed by UEFA via their website and social channels. You cal also follow the draw and reaction on Independent.ie's live blog.

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