The UEFA was thinking (since 2011) about a new competition to replace the hated international friendly games. At least that is the bigger picture!
This Thursday this new competition will start! The question is if you are in favor or against the Nations League?
What is it?
All 52 countries from the UEFA will participate in this new competition. 4 division have been created based on the country ranking of the UEFA.
Each division consists of 4 groups, depending in the division these groups consists of 3 or 4 countries.
Division 1 & 2 both have 12 countries, division 3 has 15 countries in it and the lowest division (4) consist of 16 countries.
The countries will play a round robin tournament in their groups. The winner of each group, will play a final tournament, where will be decided who the winner of the division is.
It is possible to promote to a higher division by winning the groups, which of course results in the possibility to degrade to a lower division when ending last in the group.
The final tournament will be held in June 2019. One of the participant of the division finals will be the host of the tournament, since will be decided in December of this year!
To make it more appealing for the countries to put on their best shoes, the UEFA decided that 4 spots for the next European Championship will be reserved for the 4 divisions.
Meaning that each division will be guaranteed to have a participant at the Euro 2020! All the winners of the groups, which did not qualify for the Euro 2020 will get a second chance in March 2020.
So each of the winners of their group in the division will have a new chance to qualify! If a group winner is already qualified for the Euro 2020, the runner-up will take its place!
Most players aren’t interested in the international friendlies. How often do key players for a country do skip these games to get some extra rest or to nurture their small injuries!
Also the managers of these top teams are always scared to get their key player back from a friendly game with a severe injury. But they chance on an injury still exists and maybe even is more luckily because it isn’t a friendly game.
Also it was difficult for the smaller countries to find a sparring partner, while they middle countries often had to pay big time to be able to play against a higher rank or top team!
By introducing this Nations League, the UEFA is trying to find a solution. The countries will play against other countries of a presumable equal strength!
Aren’t we all exited to watch Gibraltar vs Macedonia? But we have to honest on the other side, the kick off game in division 1 is Germany vs France. The current world champion against the previous one!
But is this the real reason?
Friendly games are always arranged by the countries involved and announced to the UEFA, who then is responsible to assign referees!
There was no profit in it for the UEFA! But setting up the Nations League, they can generate extra sponsor contracts, selling the television rights and so on..
Little pieces of this new income for the UEFA will flow to the participating countries.
Also for the countries, who were almost all in favor, it is a new income model. They can sell tickets more expensive than for a friendly games, they have a new chance on winning a title. So yes again we are talking about money!
The countries from the smaller division are also in favor, because suddenly one of the lowest ranked nations in the UEFA ranking will actually reach the EURO 2020! How could they deny such an opportunity?
From 0% chance to qualify, the chance for getting their did for some countries increase a million times!
What do I think about it!
I do have mixed feelings.
While the idea is noble, I do think that money was the most crucial factor in setting up this league. Friendlies still need to be arranged, because some countries only are with 3 in their groups.
But this will also mean that we will see less friendlies between top countries from Europe with the rest of the world.
I am also curious how serious the countries from division one, will face this competition! Will they go full force or will they still see it is a friendly game?
We did see during the EURO 2016 that some games were rather boring, and with this in mind I don't know if it is a good idea to have 2 countries participating at the EUROs, who never would have a chance!
On other side, living in a small country myself, I do think that it is great for these countries to finally be at the EUROs. I do like that idea!
Like written before there are some great games on the calendar, like Germany vs France and England vs Spain. But will also mean that these players will have another tournament in the summer. Normally during non Euro and World Cup years, the most players had an early holiday, giving them some more time to get healed before the start of the new season. But suddenly for 16 countries this luxury will disappear!
I will give it an honest chance! And probably, hopefully have to adjust my opinion after the first Nations League is over!
For a betting point of view!
But from a betting point of view, there are lots of possibilities. Most games will have countries of equal strength which will make it hard for the bookies to set the lines, which does gives us (sports bettors) a chance to exploit their misses!
But we also have to be honest! This are though games to bet on. If I do take a look at my betting record from the past World Cup, well that wasn't actually one big party!
What is your idea about it?
I would love to hear!