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Uefa Nations League: What is it, how does it work, when will the 2022/23 competition start?

The complicated competition returns for its third edition in 2022/23

Mark Walker
Thursday 16 December 2021 12:28 GMT
UEFA Nations League explained

The Nations League is back on the scene with the draw for the 2022/23 group stage taking place on Thursday 16 December.

The tournament will be the third edition of the Uefa Nations League, after the first two were won by Portugal and France.

The 55 nations will be split into Leagues A, B, C and D, which themselves will be split into small groups. Of the home nations, England and newly promoted Wales are in League A, Scotland are in League B, while Northern Ireland are in League C.

Here Mark Walker explains how the new competition will work:

What is the Nations League?

The tournament involves all 55 Uefa member countries and aims to replace meaningless friendlies with increased competition.

What is the tournament format?

The competing nations have been placed into four tiers based on their current Uefa ranking and each tier is split into four leagues - A, B, C and D - made up of three or four teams. The teams in each league will play each other home and away.

The team finishing top of each group is promoted to a higher league and the team finishing bottom of each group is relegated to a lower league, except in the lowest tier (D).

The four teams who win their respective League A groups (the bit England and Wales are involved in) will qualify for the knockout finals in June 2019 – semi-finals, final and third-place play-off – to decide the Nations League winner. One of those four teams will act as the hosts of the event.

When are the matches?

Teams will play all their group opponents home and away in June and September 2022. Four of the six matchdays will be in June due to the winter scheduling of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

The four group winners in League A will advance to the knockout Finals in June 2023. The group winners in the other three leagues will all be promoted for the 2024/25 edition.

The teams finishing fourth in the groups in Leagues A and B will be relegated. The teams finishing fourth in the League C groups will enter the play-outs in March 2024, with the two teams defeated in those ties moving to League D.

Matchdays 1 & 2: 2–8 June 2022

Matchdays 3 & 4: 8–14 June 2022

Matchdays 5 & 6: 22–27 September 2022

Finals draw: tbc

Semi-finals: 14 & 15 June 2023

Final & third-place match: 18 June 2023

Play-outs: 21–23 & 24–26 March 2024

When is the Nations League draw?

The Nations League draw takes place today, Thursday 16 December, at 5pm GMT.

How to watch

The Nations League draw will be broadcast on Uefa’s YouTube channel, so viewers can stream the draw online for free.

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