The third season of the UEFA Nations League is officially dubbed the 2022-23 competition, although the final relegation play-out games are not set to be held until March of 2024. The league is an international association football (AKA soccer) tournament that involves the national men’s teams of 55 countries and is held in three phases.
The league phase of the UEFA Nations League 2022/23 was played between June and September of 2022. The highest tier of the contest consisted of four groups which were eventually led by Croatia, Spain, Italy, and The Netherlands. Defending champions France are no longer in with a chance to retain their title due to finishing in third place within their group with just five points – a far cry from the 13 points attained by group leader Croatia.
Next: The Nations League Semi-Finals
The next phase of the UEFA Nations League 2022/23 competition consists of two semi-final games set to be held on 14-15 June 2023. The Netherlands will play Croatia in the first game, where the Dutch team are currently heavy favourites according to the odds posted on websites that offer betting on football; there’s still plenty of time for these prices to change, of course, but The Netherlands are currently being offered at 6/4 in contrast to just 11/2 for Croatia.
The next day will see Spain take on Italy, with the former team currently being the favourites with a price of 5/2 – a comparatively small advantage in terms of odds over their competitors who are being offered at 7/2 as of the time of writing. Just a few days later, the winners and losers of both games will take on one another in the third-place playoffs and overall finals. Those games are set to take place on the 18th of June 2023.
What About Phase Three?
The so-called relegation play-out games are likely to consist of the lowest-ranked teams from the bottom tier of the competition, dubbed League C. These games are currently planned to be held over two legs on the 21-23 March 2024 and 24-26 March 2024 – the same dates as the UEFA Euro 2024 qualifying play-offs.
Should one or more of the teams set to participate in these games simultaneously qualify for the UEFA Euro 24 qualifying play-offs, the third phase of the competition will be cancelled; if that were to occur, the League C teams ranked 47th and 48th of the overall Nations League rankings will be automatically relegated. Whilst such a scenario is technically a possibility, it would require one of the teams to do exceptionally well in one area of the overall competition whilst performing equally poorly in another.
The overall rankings for all but the top four participating teams were already determined during the first phase of the competition – it is only the top four places which are still being contested. As mentioned previously, the teams battling it out for those spots are The Netherlands, Croatia, Spain, and Italy, who currently have 16, 13, 11, and 11 points respectively.
The top three leagues of the UEFA Nations League are each allocated one of the three remaining UEFA 2024 places. The team selection process uses a complex set of criteria, but the eventual goal is to determine twelve teams who will compete in the play-offs. This higher tier of competition is much more prestigious, so having an additional opportunity to enter that tournament via the Nations League presents an attractive goal, especially for teams in the lower halves of each league.