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  • Writer's pictureLucy Page

Women's Nations League: What You Missed

We now know the four countries who will contend for the two European spots at the Olympics - France, Germany, Spain, and the Netherlands.

The group stage may be over, but there is more to come; so how did we get to where we are now: awaiting the final fixtures?

The Nations League finals will take place between February 21-28, and we are yet to find out the draw to determine who plays who in one of the two semi-finals. Normally, the two finalists would qualify for the Olympics but if Paris 2024 hosts, France make the final, the third-placed team will qualify alongside France and the other finalist.

That is not the only thing at stake, of course, playoff matches will also take place to determine relegation and promotion between the leagues which will also happen at the same time as the finals. There is much to unpack in each league, so it is important to delve deeper into each league and group separately.

League A

Group A1:

1) Netherlands

2) England

3) Belgium

4) Scotland

This group certainly brought the drama, with the Netherlands progressing into the semi-finals, and a step closer to Olympic qualification, over World Cup runners-up England. To the point where it came down to goal difference.

Netherlands Women's National Team after securing Olympic qualification and Nations League Playoffs. Photo from @oranjevrouwen /Twitter

On the final match day, if the Netherlands won, England had to also win but score three more goals than the Netherlands on the night. Many questioned if Scotland would throw the match for the sake of Team GB's chances of the Olympics although this is hard to believe because of the rivalry between the two countries. England put six goals past Scotland and when the whistle had blown, all they could do was wait.

With the Netherlands v Belgium game a little behind the England v Scotland game, it wasn't confirmed - when the England game had ended: the Netherlands were winning 3-0 and England was on the brink of an Olympic spot until a 95th-minute fourth goal from Damaris Egurrola gave the Netherlands a greater goal difference than England.

Therefore, we will not see Sarina Wiegman leading Team GB at the Paris Olympics in 2024, but her native country and former team making the final four instead. As well as this, Scotland was relegated from League A and Belgium had a confirmed space in the League A and B playoffs.

Group A2:

1) France 2) Austria

3) Norway

4) Portugal

Olympic home nation France reached the Nations League finals after beating Austria 3-0 on matchday 5 as well as beating Portugal 2-0 on the final matchday; with 16 points from six games. As the host team, they have automatic qualification for the Olympics.

With a goal difference of -8 and 3 points from six games, Portugal were automatically relegated to League B. On matchday 6, Austria beat Norway 2-1; securing their stay in League A whilst Norway would confirm a place in the relegation playoff.

Group A3:

1) Germany

2) Denmark

3) Iceland

4) Wales

Germany could secure the top spot by matching the result of the Danish on the final matchday; they played a 0-0 draw with Wales but Denmark suffered a loss at home to Iceland which secured Germany as table leaders. Going into matchday 6, both had 12 points but Germany had a superior goal difference. Hence, Germany at the minimum had to match what the Danish did and that was enough.

Automatic relegation was handed to the Welsh, after losing 2-1 to Iceland on matchday 5, despite a shock 0-0 draw with Germany on the final matchday. Iceland secured their place in the relegation playoffs, surprising many with a 1-0 win over the Danish away from home.

Group A4:

1) Spain

2) Italy

3) Sweden

4) Switzerland

The reigning world champions Spain looked in fine form, putting a total of 12 goals against Switzerland over the two games, defeating Sweden 3-2 and 5-3. Nobody would have guessed that out of all the teams in their group if any could beat them, it would be Italy who beat them 3-2 on matchday 5. However, they still topped the group with 15 points, five points ahead of second-place Italy.

Sweden, Olympic silver medalists will not feature in the 2024 edition of the Olympics as they enter the relegation playoffs - as they came third in their group. In one of the most exciting matches of the Nation's League group stage, their 5-3 loss to Spain on matchday six. From 3-1 up, they conceded goals from Athenea del Castillo, Fiamma Benitez, and a brace from Mariona Caldentey. Switzerland, in a rather difficult group, faced automatic relegation with only three points from six games and a goal difference of -15.

League B

Group B1:

1) Republic of Ireland

2) Hungary

3) Northern Ireland

4) Albania

With two matches to spare, the Republic of Ireland secured promotion into League A as they won all six games - scoring 20 goals and conceding only two in the process. Hungary claimed the second spot in the group, with Northern Ireland losing 1-6 to the Republic of Ireland whilst Hungary beat the already relegated Albania 6-0; cementing themselves into the second spot.

Ireland Football after securing qualification into League A. Photo from @IrelandFootball /Twitter

Therefore, Northern Ireland was condemned to the relegation playoffs after placing third in the group after winning two, drawing one, and losing three games. Albania faced automatic relegation into League C after drawing one game and losing five, with only one point in the group stage and a goal difference of -16. Albania will be relegated automatically into League C before the next edition of the Nation's League after drawing one game and losing five.

Group B2:

1) Finland

2) Croatia

3) Slovakia

4) Romania

Finland topped the group with 16 points from the six games, almost having a 100% record until a 2-2 draw with Slovakia on matchday 6. They scored 18 goals in the group stage and only conceded two, confirming their promotion to League A. Croatia play in a promotion playoff against a third-place League A team, due to the fact they came second in their group, 7 points behind Finland's 16, they won three games and lost three.

Like other third-place finishers in League B, Slovakia will enter the relegation playoffs to decide whether they will remain in League B or be condemned to League C - they will play a runner-up from League C. Due to Romania only winning one point over the 6 games, they placed fourth in Group B2 and were subsequently relegated automatically to League C.

Group B3:

1) Poland

2) Serbia

3) Ukraine

4) Greece

In Group B3, Poland secured their promotion into League A after a 2-0 victory over Greece on matchday 6. They were unbeaten in their group, winning five and drawing one. Serbia came second in the group and therefore, they will enter the promotion playoffs against a third-placed team from League A, and a win would secure them promotion to League A.

Ukraine will play in the League B and C playoffs to determine whether they will be relegated to League C or not; this comes after they placed third behind Poland and Serbia, winning two games and losing four. With one win and five losses on the board, Greece are to be relegated to League C, with a goal difference of -10.

Group B4:

1) Czech Republic

2) Bosnia and Herzegovina

3) Slovenia

4) Belarus

Czech Republic are promoted to League A after coming on top of a rather tight group; with wins over Slovenia and Belarus. Their one draw and their one loss came against Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bosnia and Herzegovina came second in the group after winning both games against Belarus, winning one and drawing one against the group winners Czechia, and then drawing one and losing one against Slovenia. They will enter the promotion playoff to see if they can win and be promoted to League A.

Belarus faces automatic relegation after ranking the lowest in their group, and so will play in League C next year. Also, Slovenia was automatically relegated to League C because they were the third-placed team with the worst record and so they lost out on a relegation playoff spot.

League C

Group C1:

1) Malta

2) Latvia

3) Andorra

4) Moldova

Topping group C1 was Malta, going unbeaten in the group with five wins and a single 0-0 draw against Moldova on matchday 5. Latvia came second in the group and this means they have an opportunity to follow Malta and be promoted to League B, but they will have to enter the relegation playoff and face a third-placed League B team before they can do so. They were the second-placed team with the best record over the six games.

Third and fourth-placed teams in League C remain in the league, and this is the case for Andorra and Moldova; ending the group stage with 4 and 3 points respectively.

Group C2:

1) Turkey

2) Lithuania

3) Luxembourg

4) Georgia

Turkey secured promotion to League B, with a 100% record in their group, it is also good to note that they did not concede a single goal over the 6 games they played in the group stage. In League C, not all second-placed teams qualify for the promotion playoff, as the three second-placed teams with the best record will be given the opportunity to be promoted. Hence, Lithuania miss out on a promotion playoff spot and so will remain in League C.

Group C3:

1) Azerbaijan

2) Montenegro

3) Cyprus

4) Faroe Islands

Azerbaijan won five games and drew one game which saw them top group C3 with 16 points; drawing 1-1 with Cyprus on matchday 1. Because of this, they receive an automatic qualification and will join League B; followed by Montenegro. Out of all second placed teams, Montenegro had the second-best record and this means they are entered into the promotion playoff - after they ended the group stage with 12 points. They beat Cyprus 2-0 and secured themselves a playoff spot.

Cyprus placed third in group C3 and this means that they will remain in the League, as there is no relegation playoff for them to enter. They finish the group stage with two wins, one draw, and three losses. Faroe Islands came last in group C3, without a single point, scoring only one goal in the group stage and conceding 15.

Group C4:

1) Israel

2) Estonia

3) Kazakhstan

4) Armenia

Israel automatically moved up to League B, with five wins and one draw under their belt, scoring 21 and conceding only two. Estonia, however, missed out on potential promotion after they did not rank highly enough out of the five second-placed teams, and will remain in League C. They won three, drew one, and lost two games.

As League C is the lowest tier in the Nations League, it means there is not a relegation playoff and so third-placed Kazakhstan will remain in League C; with eight points after winning two, drawing two, and losing two games. Armenia were another team who did not earn a single point during the group stage, conceding 25 goals over six games and ending with a goal difference of -20, but despite this, they will remain in League C.

Group C5:

1) Kosovo

2) Bulgaria

3) North Macedonia

In the group of 3, every team only played four matches and 12 points were available for each to win. Kosovo topped the group with 10 points after winning three games and drawing one. As a result of this, they will be promoted to League B.

The runner-up of the group was Bulgaria, winning one game against North Macedonia, drawing two against each of the other teams, and then losing once against Kosovo. Bulgaria will enter the promotion playoffs and they will face a third-placed team from League B, securing this as the third highest-ranked second placed team - clinching the last spot in the playoff for promotion to League B.

As the third-placed team and the lowest-placed team, North Macedonia will remain in League C as there is no lower league for automatic relegation to happen. Instead, they will play again in League C next year.

So to summarize:

Through to the finals are: the Netherlands, France, Germany, and Spain

Relegated automatically from League A are: Scotland, Portugal, Wales, and Switzerland.

Promoted from League B are: the Republic of Ireland, Finland, Poland, and Czech Republic.

Placed in League A and B playoffs are: Belgium, Norway, Iceland, Sweden, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Relegated from League B are: Albania, Romania, Greece, Slovenia, and Belarus.

Promoted from League C are: Malta, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Israel, and Kosovo.

Placed in League B and C playoffs are: Northern Ireland, Slovakia, Ukraine, Latvia, Montenegro, and Bulgaria.

The draws for the semi-finals and the playoff games are yet to be confirmed. It will take place on Monday, December 11, 2023, at 1 PM CET, 7 AM EST. All games will be played from February 21st and February 28th.


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