What happened to International Friendlies? I remember as a child I used to love watching England set up against anyone, but now we’re older and things seemed to have changed. Now, the international breaks are a thorn in the side as the football league has to take a 2-week break to accommodate pointless matches that accomplish nothing but injuring our club’s top players.
To combat the tedium of international friendlies, UEFA have introduced the Nations League: but what is it and how does it work?
The Nations League kicks off in September; a tournament containing all 55 UEFA member countries, including England, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Scotland and Wales as well as England who hope to keep up the momentum of their hugely exciting World Cup campaign.
The tournament continues across October and November international breaks with finals being played in June 2019. The 55 competing nations have been placed into four tiers based on their current UEFA rankings. Each of these tiers is split into four leagues: A, B, C and D, each made up of four teams.
Between September and November, the teams in each of these leagues will play each other at home and away. The team that finished top of each group will move up to a higher league and the team that finishes bottom will be demoted to a lower league, in a similar fashion to maths sets in high school, minus the excruciating boredom – hopefully.
The four team that win their respective League A groups will qualify for the knockout finals in June 2019.
Who will the home nations be playing?
England have been drawn to play in the top tier (League A) against World Cup Finalists Croatia and Spain.
Wales and the Republic of Ireland will play in the second tier (league B) alongside each other in Group Four against Denmark.
Northern Ireland will also play in League B. They are in Group Three, up against Bosnia-Herzegovina and Austria.
In the Third Tier (league C) are Scotland. They will play in Group One against Israel and Albania.