Monday, October 3, 2022

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What Nations League relegation means for England

England were relegated from League A of the Nations League on Friday night after losing 1-0 to Italy at the San Siro.

Gareth Southgate’s side are now certain to finish bottom of Group A3, although they have one game to play – host Germany at Wembley on Monday.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at what relegation could mean for the England national team over the next year.

Southgate has always praised the Nations League for replacing non-competitive friendlies with fixtures against Europe’s elite nations.

Since the first edition, England have been drawn alongside Spain, Croatia, Belgium, Denmark and Iceland, before landing Italy, Hungary and Germany in the current competition.

The level of opposition could now potentially drop significantly, with possibilities like Kazakhstan, Georgia and Albania in England’s group – less than ideal preparation between major tournaments.

England topped their group in 2019, fending off Spain and Croatia to reach the final in Portugal. There they lost to Holland after extra time in the semi-finals before beating Switzerland on penalties to seal third place.

Relegation removes the prospect of reaching the final, which is only open to League A group winners. The prize offered for the top groups in League B is promotion to League A, which the England will consider it a must.

More importantly, the Euro 2024 qualifying standings are established by the overall finishing positions within the Nations League. This means the four group winners go into a Nations League pot, which is one fewer squad to allow the finals to take place alongside two European Championship qualifying rounds.

The next 10 teams form pot one, again based on their performance in the Nations League, with England no longer seeded due to relegation.

A fine record in recent qualifying campaigns has been based on inferior opposition, but being in pot two could see England land like Portugal, France, Belgium or Italy in their bid to reach the final in Germany.

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