International soccer bosses are busy drafting their squads for the first UEFA Nations League which kicks off in September.
The league will see 55 teams as far apart as Iceland and Azerbaijan battle each other in a round robin tournament leading up to finals in June 2019.
The competition is designed to fill the ‘gap’ seasons between the European Championships and the World Cup.
The national teams are arranged in four groups based on their FIFA world rankings.
Within each group are four leagues of three or four teams that will play each other to gain a place in the finals.
Top tier rankings
Each side will play the others in their league between September and November.
The team finishing top gains promotion to a higher tier, while those at the bottom face relegation.
The four teams taking the first positions in the top tier will play- knock-out matches in the finals to decide the UEFA Nations League champions.
Teams taking the top two places in each league will automatically grab a place in the Euro 2020 finals.
The top tier rankings (League A) are:
- Group 1 – Netherlands, France and Germany
- Group 2 – Iceland, Switzerland and Belgium
- Group 3 – Poland, Italy and Portugal
- Group 4 – Croatia, England and Spain
The draw gives England a chance for revenge against Croatia, the side that knocked them out of the 2018 World Cup.
Croatia beat unfancied England 2-1 in the semi-finals to snatch a place in the final, where they lost 4-2 to France.
UEFA denies the motive behind the new competition is money, arguing supporters and players want to see more competitive international football take the place of ‘meaningless’ friendlies.
“Finances are not a driver for the new competition. However, the competition will have the same centralised media rights as have recently been introduced for all European qualifiers, so associations will have even more stability in their income,” said UEFA.
“There will certainly be fewer friendly internationals and undoubtedly fewer meaningless friendlies. However, there will still be space in the calendar for friendly internationals – particularly warm-up matches for final tournaments. UEFA is also keen that European teams will still have the chance to play opponents from outside the continent.”