Football – More ‘meaning’, ‘prestige’: Nations League kicks off – Sports

Herzogenaurach (DPA) – After the national championships comes the League of Nations. The third edition of the controversial competition begins this week – for the German national football team with the match against Italy in Bologna next Saturday (8.45pm / RTL).

Choose DFB wants to offer much better performance than in previous versions. “If you are relegated to the First Division, it will not only damage your image, but also harm the sport. We want to avoid that,” said German Football Association director Oliver Bierhoff.

The former international player said the League of Nations had “gained in importance and prestige”. “Now it will not be a world or European championship, but it is a very exciting competition.”

Less than six months before the start of the World Cup, a number of national associations are facing important endurance tests. “The positive side is that we only play against strong teams. They are competitive matches,” Bierhoff said before matches in Bologna, Munich against England, Budapest against Hungary and Mönchengladbach again against European champions Italy.

Where can I watch the games?

The German games will be broadcast on RTL, while streaming service DAZN has secured broadcast rights for other games. Several high-profile matches can be seen: on Thursday, for example, Spain will meet Portugal, and on Friday Belgium will host the Netherlands. DAZN recently extended its contract with UEFA until 2026.

How does the League of Nations work?

It is the third edition of the competition. Portugal won in 2018/2019, France won in 2020/2021. All 55 UEFA members participate in the Nations League. In tournaments A, B and C, each of the 16 teams is divided into four groups. In league (d) there is a group of four and a group of three. In every league and every group everyone plays twice with the others. The four winners of League One A advance to the quarter-finals, where the defending champion is finally decided. Group winners in tournaments B, C and D will be promoted to the next higher league in the next edition of the tournament.

The group bottom of Leagues A and B is relegated once to each, and the group bottom of League C determines the two groups relegated to League D.

What about that?

Three of the 24 entrants to EM 2024 will be determined by the Nations League. The twelve teams that performed best in the tournament and did not qualify for the European Championship through the regular qualifiers, will play the remaining starting positions in the qualifiers. Germany is preparing to host the European Championship.

What are the foundations of competition now?

It was created after several associations complained about the deteriorating state of international friendlies. In many places, the Nations League was initially viewed critically, including by the German Football Association (DFB). The prestigious duels and their competitive character also give the Nations League an allure – and open a back door to the European Championship for smaller nations.

How does the competition now fit into the end of the season?

Since the World Cup won’t be held until winter this year, UEFA is using the free time in June for four days of matches. In this form and at this time, the Nations League comes as a kind of mini World Cup for many teams – a welcome rehearsal for Qatar for many. “We don’t want to work only through the League of Nations,” said Thomas Muller. “We want to be successful, to win these prestigious duels. It will be an indicator of the World Cup.”

What then?

The fifth and sixth matches will be held from September 22 to 27, and the fourth round of the title will take place from June 14 to 18, 2023. The final round will be held in one of the four qualifying countries.

© dpa-infocom, dpa: 220530-99-486657 / 2

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