Sunday 25 August 2019

What's next for Ireland? Everything you need to know about the UEFA Nations League and Euro 2020 qualifying

14 November 2017; Shane Duffy of Republic of Ireland celebrates after scoring his side's goal with team-mates David Meyler, left, and James McClean during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier Play-off 2nd leg match between Republic of Ireland and Denmark at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
14 November 2017; Shane Duffy of Republic of Ireland celebrates after scoring his side's goal with team-mates David Meyler, left, and James McClean during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier Play-off 2nd leg match between Republic of Ireland and Denmark at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Aidan Fitzmaurice

Ireland will now have no part in the draw for the World Cup finals in Moscow on December 1. Instead, it’s off to Lausanne for an FAI delegation on January 24 for the draw for the UEFA Nations League.

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.

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