The Nations League is back – and you’ll be able to watch every game on Sky Sports. Read on to find out who England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are up against, what’s at stake – and what it means for World Cup 2022…
The second edition of the Nations League kicks off on Thursday, with Germany v Spain one of the standout ties of the opening round of fixtures, as Portugal look to defend their title.
Cristiano Ronaldo was once again the star in last summer’s finals, scoring a hat-trick against Switzerland before helping his country win the inaugural competition in Porto against Netherlands.
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England will be looking to improve on their third-place finish this time around, with Gareth Southgate’s side aiming to reach the final-four stage again, where the semi-finals and final will be held in September or October 2021.
To do that they’ll have to finish top of Group A2, ahead of Belgium, Iceland and Denmark, who they play home and away across the international windows in September, October and November. England kick off their campaign with away games against Iceland on Saturday and Denmark on Tuesday.
England fixtures – Nations League
Northern Ireland are in Group B1 with Austria, Norway and Romania, while Scotland face Czech Republic, Slovakia and Israel in Group B2. Wales are in Group B4 with Republic of Ireland, Finland and Bulgaria.
Those three Home Nations will be aiming to win their respective groups to be promoted to League A for the 2022/23 edition of the Nations League – and also potentially secure a 2022 World Cup play-off spot in the process. More on that below.
Northern Ireland fixtures – Nations League
Scotland fixtures – Nations League
Wales fixtures – Nations League
How it works
In the Nations League, the 55 European countries are split across four leagues – A, B, C and D.
The top three leagues contain four groups of four teams. League D has two groups – one with four teams, one with three.
Teams are put into leagues based on their ranking from the previous Nations League.
So each team – apart from the trio in the bottom group in League D – will play six matches within their group across the international windows in September, October and November.
Groups have increased in size from three teams to four this time around, as UEFA builds on its policy of having more competitive games and fewer friendlies in the international calendar.
The title, promotion and relegation
Teams in League A – which includes England and the likes of France, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands – are battling to become Nations League champions.
To do that, they need to win their group and then progress to the final-four stage, where there will be a semi-final, third-place play-off and final in September or October 2021.
One of the countries which reaches those finals will be selected as the host country for the knockout games.
But promotion and relegation is also on the line too. The last-placed teams in Leagues A and B will be relegated, while the top teams in Leagues B, C and D will be promoted.
The four bottom teams in League C will have a play-off to determine which two drop into the two League D pools.
World Cup qualification
The first steps towards qualification for the 2022 World Cup for European teams starts here.
The groups for World Cup qualifying will be drawn in November, with teams split across 10 groups. The group winners automatically qualify, while the runners-up go into the play-offs.
That’s where the Nations League comes in. The two best Nations League group winners which fail to finish in the top two of their World Cup qualifying group will be handed a second chance to reach Qatar.
They’ll go into the play-offs, along with the 10 sides which finish as runners-up in those World Cup qualifying groups.
When are the games?
Nations League schedule
How to watch on Sky Sports
You will be able to watch all 162 Nations League matches live on Sky Sports – plus the semi-finals, third-place play-off and final. Games will be shown across our main channels and via the red button.
Our coverage kicks off on Thursday, with Finland v Wales live on Sky Sports Main Event and Bulgaria v Republic of Ireland on Sky Sports Football. Wales v Bulgaria and Republic of Ireland v Finland on Monday will be shown on both Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Football.
Scotland’s opener against Israel on Friday is on Sky Sports Main Event on Friday, along with Romania v Northern Ireland on Sky Sports Football. Czech Republic v Scotland and Northern Ireland v Norway will be shown on Tuesday.
You can watch Iceland v England on Sky Sports Main Event and Football on Sunday, and Denmark v England on the same channels on Wednesday.
For a full rundown of Nations League fixtures and where to watch them on Sky Sports head to our fixture page.
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