Croatia Remains in Elite Group of UEFA Nations League after Format Change

By 25 September 2019

September 25, 2019 - Although the Croatia national team was relegated to League B of the UEFA Nations League last year, a format change keeps them with the elite teams in the competition. 

A meeting of the UEFA Executive Board was held in Ljubljana on Tuesday, deciding that the Elite group of of the Nations League (League A) would be expanded to 16 teams instead of the previous 12 national teams.

Thus, Croatia will remain in the highest-ranking group,  irrespective of the fact that they placed last when they were grouped with England and Spain. Recall, Croatia opened the Nations League last year with a 6:0 loss to Spain, and drew against England in Rijeka behind closed doors. Croatia then fantastically topped Spain in Zagreb 3:2, and lost 2:1 to England at Wembley. 

“The UEFA Nations League will have a new league structure comprising 16 teams in Leagues A, B and C and 7 teams in League D, as of the 2020/21 edition. The teams are allocated to leagues based on the overall ranking following the 2018/19 inaugural UEFA Nations League.

This change to the format follows a consultation process which involved all of UEFA's 55 national associations and reflects upon their desire to further minimise the number of friendly matches.

In addition, it enhances sporting fairness as all teams in the same group will play their last match on the same day and at the same time,” writes UEFA

In addition to Croatia, who will again play against Europe's strongest teams, Germany, Poland and Iceland will remain in League A, though they should have also been relegated. It is not yet decided what exactly the Nations League standings will mean for the 2022 World Cup, but that should be known soon.

The teams will be divided into four groups of four teams, and the group winners will compete in the Nations League final tournament (semifinal, match for third place and the final) in June 2021. The group draw is scheduled for March 3, 2020, in Amsterdam. The competition itself will start in the autumn of 2020 and will be played in September, October, and November.

Nations League Groups:

League A: Croatia, Germany, Poland, Iceland, Sweden, Ukraine, Denmark, Portugal, Netherlands, BiH, England, Switzerland, Belgium, France, Spain, Italy.

League B: Russia, Austria, Wales, Czech Republic, Scotland, Norway, Serbia, Finland, Slovakia, Turkey, Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Bulgaria, Israel, Hungary, Romania.

League C: Greece, Albania, Montenegro, Georgia, Northern Macedonia, Kosovo, Belarus, Cyprus, Estonia, Slovenia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Moldova

League D: Gibraltar, Faroe Islands, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Andorra, Malta and San Marino.

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