Chelsea star may be given the chance to impress as England start Nations League campaign


The UEFA Nations League starts in September, with 55 teams competing in four leagues in the newly-formed competition.

Highlights of the opening round of games include England’s clash with Spain on Saturday, while World Cup winners France visit Germany two days earlier.

Spain will be amongst the favourites to win the competition at the new sportsbook from FanDuel, although England will fancy their chances of success when the two sides meet at Wembley.

Manchester City star Raheem Sterling and Liverpool forward Adam Lallana have withdrawn from the squad through injury, but the Three Lions are still expected to field a strong team.

Chelsea midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek may be handed a chance to impress, despite playing just 22 minutes in the Premier League this season.

Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa has withdrawn from Spain’s squad, with Celta Vigo forward Iago Aspas coming in as his replacement.

Elsewhere, Italy host Poland on Friday, before travelling to face Portugal the following Monday. France’s second game in the competition is at home to Netherlands on Sunday, while Spain host Croatia on Tuesday.

UEFA has devised the new format in a bid to reduce the number of meaningless friendlies played each year.

The competing nations are split into four leagues – A, B, C and D – based on their UEFA ranking at the end of the 2018 World Cup qualifiers. Within those four leagues, teams are split again into groups of either three or four.

At the end of the cycle, four teams will be promoted, while four teams will be relegated. They will then play at their new level in the next competition, which starts in 2020.

The winners of the four groups in League A will qualify for the Final Four competition.

The competition also offers nations a possible route into the European Championships. There will be 24 teams competing in 2020, with the top two teams from 10 qualifying groups automatically securing a spot at the finals.

The remaining four spots will be allocated to the Nations League, with the winners of every group – regardless of tier – earning a place in the Euro 2020 play-offs assuming they have not directly qualified already.

The sixteen play-off teams will take on others from their own tier for a place in the Euros, with the winner of each to qualify.

If a team has already qualified for Euro 2020, their play-off spot will be taken by the best placed team from the Nations League tier below.

Full Nations League line-up:

League A

Group 1: Germany, France, Netherlands.
Group 2: Belgium, Switzerland, Iceland.
Group 3: Portugal, Italy, Poland.
Group 4: Spain, England, Croatia.

League B

Group 1: Slovakia, Ukraine, Czech Republic.
Group 2: Russia, Sweden, Turkey.
Group 3: Austria, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Northern Ireland.
Group 4: Wales, Republic of Ireland, Denmark.

League C

Group 1: Scotland, Albania, Israel.
Group 2: Hungary, Greece, Finland, Estonia.
Group 3: Slovenia, Norway, Bulgaria, Cyprus.
Group 4: Romania, Serbia, Montenegro, Lithuania.

League D

Group 1: Georgia, Latvia, Kazakhstan, Andorra.
Group 2: Belarus, Luxembourg, Moldova, San Marino.
Group 3: Azerbaijan, Faroe Islands, Malta, Kosovo.
Group 4: FYR Macedonia, Armenia, Liechtenstein, Gibraltar.

Nations League schedule

Matchday 1: September 6-9, 2018.
Matchday 2: September 9-11, 2018.
Matchday 3: October 11-13, 2018.
Matchday 4: October 14-16, 2018.
Matchday 5: November 15-17, 2018.
Matchday 6: November 18-20, 2018.
Finals: June 5-9, 2019.

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