2020/21 UEFA Nations League: All you need to know

Draw and match dates, who's playing who, how it works, 2022 World Cup qualifying.

Portugal celebrate winning the inaugural UEFA Nations League
Portugal celebrate winning the inaugural UEFA Nations League VI-Images via Getty Images

What is it?

The second edition of UEFA's newest national-team competition. Portugal clinched the first title on home turf in 2019, the culmination of a tournament that drew praise from across the continent. The 2020/21 edition will look to build on that success, with a couple of tweaks this time around.

When does it start?

Though the football starts in September 2020, the draw took place on Tuesday 3 March in Amsterdam. The League Phase is played out in September, October and November 2020, with the finals in 2021 and relegation play-offs in March 2022 (more on those below).

Who is playing who?

Spain v Germany: Two giants collide
Spain v Germany: Two giants collide

The 55 associations were split into four Leagues according to their position in the UEFA National Team Coefficient Rankings (1–16 in League A, 17–32 in League B, 33-48 in League C, 49–55 in League D). Within each League, teams were subdivided into two pots (League D) or four (for Leagues A, B and C), again according to the rankings. The pots can be found here.

The draw is as follows:

League A

Group 1: Netherlands, Italy, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Poland
Group 2: England, Belgium, Denmark, Iceland
Group 3: Portugal, France, Sweden, Croatia
Group 4: Switzerland, Spain, Ukraine, Germany

League B

Group 1: Austria, Norway, Northern Ireland, Romania
Group 2: Czech Republic, Scotland, Slovakia, Israel
Group 3: Russia, Serbia, Turkey, Hungary
Group 4: Wales, Finland, Republic of Ireland, Bulgaria

League C

2020-21 Nations League: New format explained
2020-21 Nations League: New format explained

Group 1: Montenegro, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Azerbaijan
Group 2: Georgia, North Macedonia, Estonia, Armenia
Group 3: Greece, Kosovo, Slovenia, Moldova
Group 4: Albania, Belarus, Lithuania, Kazakhstan

League D

Group 1: Faroe Islands, Latvia, Andorra, Malta
Group 2: Gibraltar, Liechtenstein, San Marino

How do the Leagues work?

Teams play each other home and away, with the four group winners of League A qualifying for the UEFA Nations League Finals in June 2021, which feature semi-finals, a third-place match and the final. The group winners in Leagues B, C and D gain promotion and those who finish bottom of the groups in Leagues A and B will be relegated.

As League C has four groups while League D has only two, the two League C teams to be relegated will be determined by two-leg play-offs in March 2022.

Nations League 2018/19 memories
Nations League 2018/19 memories

If a team due to participate in the play-offs qualifies for the 2022 FIFA World Cup play-offs (more on that below), the League C teams ranked 47th and 48th in the overall UEFA Nations League rankings are automatically relegated.

How does 2022 World Cup qualifying fit into this?

World Cup qualifying initially remains largely the same, with ten group winners advancing directly to the finals in Qatar. The format of the play-offs has evolved, though, and will now consist of two knockout rounds from which three teams qualify. It will involve the ten group runners-up plus the best two UEFA Nations League group winners (based on their overall UEFA Nations League rankings) who did not directly qualify or reach the play-offs.

When do the matches and finals take place?

The group stage matches of the 2020/21 UEFA Nations League will be played on the following dates: 3/4/5 and 6/7/8 September; 10/11 and 13/14 October; 14/15 and 17/18 November 2020.

The full fixture schedule with confirmed dates and kick-off times is available here.