The UEFA Nations League is set to begin on Thursday, but what exactly is this new competition for European nations? Here's what to know.
What is it?
Nations League is a brand new international tournament aimed to eliminate friendlies, which to some extent, are meaningless. The elite teams will battle to then feature in a final four in the summer of 2019 to be crowned champion. The entire point is to improve the quality of the international game that can be hurt by some friendlies.
How does it work?
55 times will be involved, and they will be split into four leagues based on their UEFA ranking. Inside those four leagues, as Sky Sports points out, teams will be again split into groups of three to four teams. Within each of the leagues, four teams are promoted at the end of the cycle and four are relegated for the next edition, beginning in 2020. And the winner of the four groups in the top league will play in the final four competition.
And there is plenty to play for, as each Nations League's individual league gets four playoff spots to battle for a spot at the next Euro tournament. If group winners are already qualified for Euros, the next best team not qualified goes into the playoffs.
Those 16 teams (four group winners from within the four leagues), go into four groups, where they go directly to semifinals and finals to determine playoff winners.
The draw will take place on Wednesday afternoon at 6 a.m. ET. Here are the teams in each individual league:
Group 1: France, Germany, Netherlands
Group 2: Belgium, Iceland, Switzerland
Group 3: Italy, Poland, Portugal
Group 4: Croatia, England, Spain
Group 1: Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine
Group 2: Russia, Sweden, Turkey
Group 3: Austria, Bosnia & Herzegovina
Group 4: Denmark, Ireland, Wales
Group 1: Albania, Israel, Scotland
Group 2: Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary
Group 3: Bulgaria, Cyprus, Norway, Slovenia
Group 4: Lithuania, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia
Group 1: Andorra, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Latvia
Group 2: Belarus, Luxembourg, Moldova, San Marino
Group 3: Azerbaijan, Faroe Island, Kosovo, Malta
Group 4: Armenia, Macedonia, Gibraltar, Liechtenstein
How to watch
The competition will have matches on ESPN networks and ESPN+. For more information,.
1: Sept. 6-9
2: Sept. 9-11
3: Oct. 11-13
4. Oct. 14-16
5. Nov. 15-17
6: Nov. 18-20
Finals: June 5-9, 2019