What is the UEFA Nations League?

Gareth Bale has joined up with his Wales team-mates ahead of Thursday's clash with Ireland

It is going to be a great clash when two of the biggest giants in world football face each other today for what is the first game of the UEFA Nations League. Nobody is conditioned for high-voltage competitive global football so soon after a World Cup; especially a glittering spectacle such as the one in Russian Federation.

Besides, England and Croatia have been drawn in the same group, and Southgate's team will seek revenge for the elimination at the semifinals.

European football governing body have officially revealed the official match ball for the new tournament called the UEFA Nations League. For example, in League A Group 2 England host Spain on Friday with both knowing anything less than maximum points puts the Netherlands in the driving seat.

World Cup champions France travel to Joachim Loew's under-pressure Germany on Thursday in an eye-catching start to the inaugural UEFA Nations League, football's newest competition introduced to replace most worldwide friendlies with few knowing all the details of a complex format.

The victor can only come from League A and will be determined by a mini-tournament played in June, with semifinals, a game for third place and a final.

Groups of three or four teams play home and away on the usual national-team match dates protected by Federation Internationale de Football Association.

In League B, Gareth Bale scored his 30th goal for Wales as manager Ryan Giggs was treated to a 4-1 Group 4 victory over a depleted Republic of Ireland in his first home game in charge.

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Uefa Nations League - a welcome addition or calendar clutter? If a team that has topped it's Nations League group has already qualified via the conventional route, then the next highest ranked team in its league will be offered the spot in the mini-tournament. Regular qualifying for Euro 2020 has been pushed back to 2019 where the traditional campaign will be crammed into a year. We have important fixtures ahead with the Nations League, and we will prepare the team for the challenge.

The top two teams in each qualifying group automatically advance to Euro 2020.

It essentially means you could lose all your Euro 2020 qualification games and still qualify for the tournament via the Nations League. His deputy keeper Steve Mandanda is also out for four weeks, and these two remain the only absentee from the squad that won the FIFA World Cup 2018 title in Russian Federation. "The World Cup squad was very, very good, but we did not perform".

In March 2020, each Nations League tier will have a four-team playoff bracket with the victor advancing to Euro 2020.

This will be played off during a window of worldwide fixtures in September, October and November previously used to host global friendly matches.

It is the first time that either side has played since their World Cup exploits which saw France lift the trophy and Germany crash out at the group stage.

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