The UEFA Nations League returns for its 2nd edition. Despite the original format, no teams were relegated in the previous iteration. This sets the stage for a unique tournament where 3 Leagues see 16 teams battle it out.
The UEFA Nations League will also provide an additional opportunity for teams to qualify for the 2022 World Cup. From the final overall ranking table, the top two teams not to finish top two in their World Cup Qualifying group will head to the World Cup playoffs to join 10 other teams. This will put extra focus on Leagues A and B, as teams still could be in play for a World Cup spot.
Please enjoy our UEFA Nations League spreadsheet where you can track the tournament on your own. All fixtures, tables, and World Cup tracking are available at your fingertips. DOWNLOAD HERE
We’ve made our initial projections:
League A is the cream of the crop. Only teams in League A can advance to the playoffs and be crowned champions of the UEFA Nations League. Every group has at least two very solid teams.
We like Italy, Belgium, France, and Spain to be the 4 teams to advance to the playoffs. Nothing groundbreaking there. We also have one team, Iceland, at a big disadvantage. They got a brutal draw alongside Belgium, England, and Denmark, and we really would be shocked if they were not relegated. We give them a 94.5% chance of going down.
We think Poland, Iceland, Croatia, and Ukraine are the teams to be relegated.
What to watch for: Right out of the gate, we get a World Cup final rematch with France v. Croatia. That should be a fun one. We also get Germany v Spain on the first day of the tournament.
Some of the best competition will come from League B. There’s a lot to play for. Promotion is at stake, and the World Cup playoff spots very possibly could both go to League B teams.
We like Austria, Czech Republic, Russia, and Wales to top their respective groups. But make no mistake, these groups are wide open. In Group 1, we give Austria, Norway, and Romania all over a 25% chance to be promoted. Slovakia, Turkey, Serbia, Ireland, and Finland all should be in the mix.
On the other side of the coin, Northern Ireland, Israel, Hungary, and Bulgaria are our picks to drop to League C. They are all solid teams, but there’s a lot of quality in these groups.
What to watch for: Wales and Ireland are at it again in the same group. Czech Republic reignites the old flame against Slovakia.
Don’t forget to grab our spreadsheet! DOWNLOAD HERE
Here’s where things get a bit more tenuous in the UEFA Nations League. 4 teams will be promoted but only 2 will be relegated. We have one team in over their head. That’s Moldova. They didn’t advance in any of our 2,500 simulations. We also think both Kosovo and Belarus are big, big favorites to advance and think Montenegro and Georgia will join them in promotion to League B.
Group 2 is interesting here. Georgia, North Macedonia, Armenia, and Estonia aren’t teams you typically think of among UEFA’s elite, but one of them will be moving up.
The relegation zone will see a play-out between the 4 bottom teams to determine which 2 drop to League D. We think it’ll be Moldova and Lithuania.
What to watch for: Group 1 is probably the most competitive in the entire competition, Montenegro, Cyprus, Luxembourg, and Azerbaijan is going to be a very tight group. It’ll also be interesting to see if Kosovo can live up to the hype.
Last, we have League D. Only the bottom 7 teams will contest this league, with the group winners being promoted.
Interestingly, the draw from this group put our 4 highest ranked teams all in Group 1 and our 3 lowest ranked teams all in Group 2. Despite being bottom 3 in our rankings in UEFA, we’re projecting Gibraltar to advance due to their group.
We also think Group 1 will be very tight with Faroe Islands emerging the victor. They’re due for a return to League C after a couple of down years. Don’t forget, they crept into Pot 4 for the World Cup 2018 draw.
With the first round of the tournament ahead of us, it will be exciting to get back into the international game. Thanks for reading!