Forget the upcoming World Cup, the real talking point in international football is Scotland will be in a higher league than England in the next UEFA Nations League. Right?
OK, maybe not, but the latest Nations League campaign has thrown up some juicy surprises.
With the possibility of the tournament again being linked to World Cup qualification in 2024-25, plus the rumoured involvement of all 10 South American football federations, the fallout is worth exploring.
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So without further ado, here’s all the winners and losers after September’s international break…
UEFA Nations League: League A group winners and relegation
Croatia topped Group A1 despite it containing world champions France, who only swerved the drop by a single point after another indifferent international break.
Spain edged Portugal to top spot in Group A2, while Italy won the 'Group of Death' containing Hungary - who finished a heroic second - Germany and now-relegated England.
The Dutch won five and drew one as they easily topped Group A4 ahead of Belgium.
Croatia, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands will contest the UEFA Nations League finals next year.
Nations in League A in 2024-25: Croatia, Denmark, France, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Italy, Hungary, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, Scotland, Israel, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia. N.B. Possibility of South American teams
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UEFA Nations League: League B promotion and relegation
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||Romania|
Scotland, rejoice! You will play UEFA Nations League football in a higher tier than in England after topping Group B1 with a hard-fought draw against Ukraine on Tuesday.
Israel topped a three-team Group B2 after Russia were booted out of the tournament before it begun due to the invasion of Ukraine. Russia, who will not be included in the Euro 2024 qualifying draw in October, will drop to League C.
Elsewhere, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina won promotion to League A, while Sweden suffered the ignominy of relegation to League C.
Nations in League B in 2024-25: Austria, Czech Republic, England, Wales, Ukraine, Republic of Ireland, Iceland, Albania, Finland, Montenegro, Norway, Slovenia, Turkey, Greece, Kazakhstan, Georgia. N.B. Possibility of South American teams
UEFA Nations League: League C promotion and relegation
Rather kindly, the teams that finished bottom of Groups C1, C2, C3 and C4 have "qualified" for the relegation play-outs. Yes, play-outs not play-offs. No idea why. Anyway, here's the draw:
- Gibraltar v Cyprus
- Lithuania v Belarus
The two-legged play-off matches will take place in March 2024, with the winners staying in League C and the losers dropping to League D. So a long, nervous wait...
Nations in League C in 2024-25: Armenia, Russia (TBC), Romania, Sweden, Luxembourg, Faroe Islands, Kosovo, Northern Ireland, Azerbaijan, Slovakia, Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Latvia, Estonia, play-out winners x2
UEFA Nations League: League D promotion
Despite Lithuania's woe, it's not all misery for the Baltic States. In fact, they are dancing on the streets of Riga and Tallinn after Latvia and Estonia won promotion to League C.
Nations in League D in 2024-25: Moldova, Andorra, Liechtenstein, Malta, San Marino, play-out losers x2
When are the UEFA Nations League Finals?
Only four remain in the hunt for the not-that-coveted UEFA Nations League title: Spain, Croatia, Italy and the Netherlands.
The semi-finals will take place on June 14 and 15, 2023, while the final and third-place play-off will occur on June 18, 2023.
The Netherlands are expected to host the finals, pending ratification from UEFA.
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