Nations League Explained
Women's Nations League is officially underway and it marks the start of a new era. Instead of the usual qualifiers, the Nations League will take its place. This time around, the teams will face off for a spot in the Olympics.
What Is It?
The Nations League is an international tournament where senior national teams are split into three leagues. The leagues are ranked from Group A to C.
Group A and B will host the 16 teams each split into four groups while the rest of the teams are grouped in three or four groups in Group C. Promotion and relegation between groups will follow the usual rules.
The best teams in Group A will also have a mini tournament by the end and play semifinals and a final.
Photo:Kristian Skeie – UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images
The purpose of the Nations League, also on the men's side, is to get “more matches that matter”. Instead of watching England beat Luxembourg 10-0, we will see them play the likes of The Netherlands, Scotland, and Belgium in what will essentially be a qualifying match.
Like this, all teams, no matter what group they are in will have to perform well to keep their spot in the group. There have been split opinions about the tournament since it started for the men in 2018. Is it really making European football more competitive?
There have also been concerns about the lower-ranked teams. Since they are playing teams that are on the same level as them, their development will stunt. However, if they do succeed in their own group the promotion to group A or B is not far-fetched and suddenly they are in good company.
Moldova international, Anastasia Sivolobova, thinks this competition is really important for the country to show off their abilities too. Which often has been overshadowed by double-digit number losses.
The key to the Nations League being successful for all the teams that are involved is investment. Investment will bring smaller countries far in this tournament and they have a golden opportunity to develop and excel.
The Lionesses are playing for an olympic spot for Team GB. Photo @lionesses on Instagram
For top teams, one of the main issues is the toll it takes on each player. Since every match suddenly matters they won't have the opportunity to rotate players as much. The players are still expected to perform at the top level for their clubs and other club tournaments.
With a wave of ACL injuries in women's football, there have been shouts from both players and coaches that there are too many games in a calendar year. It takes a mental and physical toll on the players which makes the possibility of getting injured higher. The national teams and club teams will have to cooperate to find the best way to keep the players healthy and happy.
How It Works
Now that we know what it is, how it works, and some pros and cons of the Nations League. Here are some bullet points of other facts that are a bit tricky, but help paint the full picture.
The teams finishing first in League B and C are automatically promoted
The four first-place teams in League A qualify for the knockout rounds
The teams who place last in League A and B are relegated to the division below. The lowest third-place team in League B will also be relegated.
In the final week of the tournament, the teams who placed third in League A will play against the second-placed teams in League B. The winners of this game will get a spot in League A. The same happens to the third-placed teams in League B and second-placed teams in League C.
Everyone else will stay in the Group and League that they are in
How the teams finish will also determine Euro 2025 qualifier seeding. The qualifiers will take place in a similar format and 16 teams will qualify. The teams who finish top eight in League A will directly qualify. The rest will head into another round of playoffs.
For the Olympics which is a more immediate matter. There are only two spots up for grabs as France is automatically qualified. This means that to get a spot in the Olympics a team needs to reach the final of the Nations League.
Here are some of the most exciting matches and where to stream them. Since the broadcasting rights are subject to each nation they will not be broadcasted in the US.
Denmark and Germany will face off at Viborg Stadium.
12am ET. Broadcasted on DR1 & DRTV
Sweden and Spain will face off at Gamla Ullevi.
12:30 am ET. Broadcasted on SVT2 & SVT play and La 1 de TVE & RTVE play
England and Scotland will face off at the Stadium of Light.
3:45 pm ET. Broadcasted at ITV and STV.
France and Portugal will face off at Stade du Hainaut.
3:10 pm ET. Broadcasted on RTP 1 and France 3