By 90Min
November 21, 2018

The first stage of the inaugural UEFA Nations League is now complete. Promotions and relegations between the various tiers are decided, but the matter of which country - Netherlands, Switzerland, Portugal, England - will become the first to lift the trophy still needs to be decided.

There were also 24 total promotions and relegations, with 24 countries rewarded or punished by playing in a new league when the next cycle comes around.

Here is a summary of everything that has happened so far and what happens next...


How Did The Finalists Qualify?


A resurgent Netherlands secured their place in the final four with an unlikely 2-2 draw on the final matchday to top League A group 1 (A1) ahead of France and Germany.

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Switzerland surprisingly beat Belgium to top spot in A2 by hammering the World Cup third place finishers 5-2 in the final game to finish first on goal difference.

Portugal were assured of their place in the finals with a game to spare after a 0-0 draw with Italy on the penultimate matchday ensured the Azzurri could only finish second in A3.

England finished ahead of Spain and Croatia in a very tight A4, beating the latter at Wembley in the final game with two late goals to finish top of the standings and relegate their rival.


When and Where Are the Finals?


The four group winners in League A will contest the finals mini-tournament in summer, with two semi finals, a third/fourth place playoff and a final to be played between 5th and 9th June.

It will all take place in Portugal, who initially bid against Italy and Poland for the right to host. All three nations were competing in the same group and it was Portugal that took the crown after topping the A3 standings and confirming their place at the finals at the expense of the others.

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Who will face who in the semi finals will be determined by an open draw that is scheduled to take place on 3rd December at the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin.

All four games in the finals mini-tournament will be split between Estádio D. Alfonso Henrique in Guimarães and Estádio do Dragão in Porto, around 50km apart in northern Portugal.


Who Has Been Promoted & Relegated?


Aside from replacing the bulk of international friendlies with competitive football, one of the most interesting aspects of the Nations League is promotion/relegation between the tiers.

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Germany were big casualties in League A as their disastrous 2018, which saw Die Mannschaft dumped out of the World Cup at the group stage, continued by finishing bottom of their group behind the Netherlands and France. They will be in League B next time.

World Cup finalists Croatia are the other big name relegated from League A, while Poland and Iceland have also dropped out of the top tier.

Replacing those four in League A are the group winners in League B: Ukraine, Sweden, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Denmark.

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Meanwhile, Slovakia, Turkey, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland have been dumped out of League B and will begin the next Nations League cycle in League C.

Making the move up to to League B from League C are Scotland, Finland, Norway and Serbia.

Estonia, Cyprus, Slovenia and Lithuania have fallen into the basement tier League D, but crawling out of the bottom league into League C are Georgia, Belarus, Kosovo and Macedonia.


Anything Else?


The Nations League is linked to Euro 2020 qualifying and so every single league winner from A down to D, 16 countries in total, has now earned a guaranteed playoff place if they fail to finish top of their Euro 2020 qualifying group, essentially rewarding them with a second chance for performing well in the Nations League.

If the team awarded that place qualifies for Euro 2020 automatically, the playoff place will go to the next highest finisher from their league who hasn't qualified..

For example, if England fail to finish top of their group in Euro 2020 qualifying, they will have a guaranteed second chance through a playoff. If England don't require that second chance it would go to the next highest ranked League A nation who hasn't qualified.


When Will it Happen Again?


This is not an annual competition and the next Nations League will take place during the September, October and November international breaks of 2020, with the finals to be played in June 2021.

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International breaks in the remainder of this season and into next season will be used for Euro 2020 qualifying, which kicks off in four months' time in March.

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