UEFA Nations League Round One Preview

This week will see the start of the UEFA Nations League, a plan from FIFA to prevent one-sided friendlies that have little interest from fans. The Nations League is designed to give every game importance, and perhaps more importantly, it is designed to ensure that teams are always playing teams who are of a similar ability. Something to play for and evenly matched games are what you should expect to see if the plan from FIFA works of course.

If you are unfamiliar with how the UEFA Nations League is going to work then here is a quick rundown of what to expect, along with a look at the big games taking place in round one, the betting odds available and a couple of betting offers to take advantage of.

How Will the UEFA Nations League Work?

Teams are split into four leagues, A, B, C and D with the best-ranked nations competing in A and the lowest ranked nations competing in D. Inside each league there are four groups, numbered 1 to 4 and it is the teams who are drawn in the same group that will play each other. For example, in league A group 4 is England, Spain and Croatia, and those three will face each other home and away over the coming months in the Nations League.

Promotion and relegation exist, so the teams that finish bottom of their groups will be relegated, while those winning the groups will be promoted for the following tournament. The four winners in league A will progress to a final that takes place next June, with the location to be decided when the four teams are known. This gives the best teams something to play for, instead of meaningless friendlies.

The final piece in the UEFA Nations League puzzle is probably the most important, especially to the smaller nations taking part and that is the chance to qualify for Euro 2020. The Euro 2020 playoffs will consist of 16 teams, but instead of these teams coming from the qualifying groups as normal, they will come from the Nations League. The 16 group winners, four from each league, will qualify for the Euro 2020 playoffs, and four of those teams will go forward to take the last four places in the competition. If a group winner has already qualified, their place goes to the next best team in their group that hasn’t qualified.

The one big point for smaller nations here is that they don’t have to playoff against any of the big nations to get through to Euro 2020. The teams that qualify from league D will all play each other to get a spot at Euro 2020, so a team like Scotland would only ever face teams who are of a similar ability in the same league, they wouldn’t have a tough playoff against a top team. That should give the smaller nations something to think about and a reason to take these games seriously, which should be far better than watching pointless friendlies.

Top Games from Round One

Germany vs France – Thursday 6th September 19:45, Sky Sports Mix

Germany have quite a bit to prove after their disappointing World Cup and their first game back is a big test against the new World Cup champions. France won the trophy in style during the summer’s tournament in Russia and they would love nothing more than to sit on top of the footballing world for the next few years. It is certainly an interesting starting point for the Germans, who will have a little more pressure on them than they are used to over the coming games, but I think this one will end in a draw, a result that will probably suit both teams at this stage.

Wales vs the Republic of Ireland – Thursday 6th September 19:45, Sky Sports Main Event

It is teams like Wales and the Republic of Ireland that should be really targeting this competition as a way to book a place at Euro 2020. Both teams are usually on the brink of qualification for European events but often find themselves falling to a top team. That won’t happen with the playoffs going forward, so there is a big incentive for them to win this group. With home advantage and a couple of genuine match winners, Wales appear to have the advantage here and they can pick up the win.

England vs Spain – Saturday 8th September 19:45 – Sky Sports Main Event

England will be looking to build on their recent World Cup success and show that they can be genuine contenders going forward, and their performance wasn’t a fluke. A group involving Spain and Croatia is certainly a test, but it is one they can come out of on top if they show the same as we saw in the summer. Spain are going through a slight transitional stage at the moment as we saw in the summer, and England can take advantage of that and win this game on Saturday night.

Denmark vs Wales – Sunday 9th September 17:00 – Sky Sports Main Event

If ever Wales had a golden opportunity staring them in the face then this is it. Right now, the Danish top flight players are refusing to play for their national team due to disagreements with payment. Therefore, unless something changes on the day or the day before, Wales will be taking on a team full of lower league Danish players. With how important this competition is to a team like Wales, it is imperative they take advantage of this dispute and beat Denmark away from home.

France vs Netherlands – Sunday 9th September 19:45 – Sky Sports Main Event

The World Cup winners return home to face the Netherlands who certainly have a point to prove after missing the World Cup this summer. The French will have a target on their backs going into their games over the next couple of years, so expect the Netherlands to be really up for this one. I don’t think it will matter too much though, France are a far better team and they can win this one with ease.

Spain vs Croatia – Tuesday 11th September 19:45 – Sky Sports Premier League

This is the second game in a group that involves England, so this will be one that is worth watching. Spain didn’t do as well as many expected at the World Cup and look to be transitioning right now, adding some youth into their team. That is something that Croatia have to do over the next year or two with many veterans on the verge of international retirement. Their World Cup felt like one last swansong, and it would be no surprise to see them struggle here, with Spain winning the game.

UEFA Nations League Betting Odds

The big headline game on day one is certainly Germany vs France and the World Cup champions can be backed at 9/5 to win their first game after this summer’s tournament. Germany are slight favourites at 29/20, with the draw priced up at 12/5. Elsewhere on the opening night, Wales are odds-on for their game against the Republic of Ireland, with 19/20 available. If you think the Irish can shock the Welsh and go and win the game they can be backed at 7/2.

Over the weekend, the bookmakers cannot split England and Spain, with both teams priced up at 17/10. This is surprising considering the momentum that England have behind them, and I am sure many people will be looking to take advantage of that price with them playing at home.

Football Betting Offers

England to beat Spain @ 28/1 with Ladbrokes

Ladbrokes are offering their new customers who sign up this weekend the chance to back England at a huge price against Spain. As mentioned above, the bookmakers can’t split these two, but new Ladbrokes customers can back Gareth Southgate’s men at a huge 28/1 when opening an account. This bet is valid to a maximum stake of £1 and winnings will be paid out in free bets but it is a great way to build a betting bank with Ladbrokes if you are looking for a new account.

England vs Spain – Kane to Score @ 25/1 with Coral

Harry Kane won the World Cup golden boot this summer, so he is going to be a hugely popular player for people to back in goalscorer bets. If you want to back him to score on Saturday and you also want to open a new account then combine the two with this great offer from Coral. They are offering new account holders the chance to back Kane to score at 25/1, to a maximum stake of £1. Any winnings will be paid in free bets, but this is another great way to build a betting bank with your new bookmaker.

Betfred Double Delight Hat-Trick Heaven on First Goal Scorers

With so much live football on over the next few days, many people will be looking for ways to get involved for an interest. One way to do so is to back the first goalscorer in a game and if you are doing that then Betfred is the place to head. On selected games, this promotion will double your winnings if your first goalscorer scores twice, and treble them if they back a hat trick. Many games are included this weekend, including Germany vs France and England vs Spain.