Confusion greets Nations League as Uefa hopes to revive internationals

Gareth Bale has joined up with his Wales team-mates ahead of Thursday's clash with Ireland

Gareth Bale has joined up with his Wales team-mates ahead of Thursday's clash with Ireland

World champions France were held to a goalless draw by Germany in League A of Uefa's Nations League.

There are those who view it as a game-changer and then there are those who see it as too complex a competition.

The inaugural Uefa Nations League kicks off this week, but Harry Maguire has admitted that the England squad are still baffled by the tournament's format.

A new phenomenon starts today called the UEFA Nations League - a brand new venture by Europe's governing body to get more people following worldwide matches. For example, in League A Group 2 England host Spain on Friday with both knowing anything less than maximum points puts the Netherlands in the driving seat.

Pitted in a group with Spain and Croatia, they hope to win the three-team round-robin format to advance into a semi-final along with the other group winners in League A, before then aiming for a final spot where the victor will be crowned the first Nations League victor.

- The four group winners in the elite League A will advance to a final four to be played June 5-9, 2019.

Teams play in groups entirely disconnected to the Nations League, with the winners and runners-up qualifying for the tournament.

Group B4: Wales, Republic of Ireland and Denmark. The tournament's climax is timed to coincide with the summers when there is neither a football world cup or a European championship.

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The competition also serves as a qualification step for teams that will participate at Euro 2020.

Group A3: Portugal, Italy and Poland.

Although Gareth Southgate's side made a run to the semi-finals of the World Cup, they did so by beating relatively modest sides, like Tunisia, Panama and Sweden, while Colombia were only navigated via a penalty shootout. The draw for the qualifiers of Euro 2020 will take place in Dublin's Convention Centre on 2nd December and the 55 teams will be divided into ten groups - five groups of five teams and five groups of six teams. The top two teams in each of these groups will qualify for Euro 2020 - That will account for 20 teams, 10 group winners and 10 group runners-up.

But now that it's here, the UEFA Nations League will face the test of public perception and popularity. Even though our World Cup was so positive we still feel like we need to prove ourselves against the very best teams.

Goalkeeper Simon Mignolet is part of the Belgium squad for the match against the Scots and the Nations League fixture at Iceland on September 11.

The competition will largely replace worldwide friendly matches now played on the FIFA global Match Calendar.

The danger is that in initial qualifying, it becomes advantageous for a side with an eye on the playoffs to help another country because of what that will then do to the make-up of supplementary qualifying - which is always the problem when competitions are not arranged in discrete silos.

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