By News Team
24th September 2021
You may have thought the main international football prize was settled this summer, but there is still the small matter of the delayed Nations League to be decided next month.
With two cracking looking semi-finals in prospect and the final all within a single week, it looks set to be a fascinating finale to the second ever Nations League.
Here is all you need to know ahead of the final stages.
What is the Nations League?
The Nations League is a relatively new concept designed by UEFA to make international fixtures in Europe more competitive.
It is a biennial tournament, contested by the 54 UEFA national member teams in Europe. Teams are divided into four leagues. League A includes 16 of the top ranked teams, divided into four groups. League B and C are the same but contain teams lower down the rankings. League D has only seven teams in it and comprises a group of four teams and another of three.
Teams play each other twice and the top placed teams in League A go on to contest the semi-finals. They also receive automatic qualification for the European Championships.
There is relegation and promotion between the leagues, with the bottom four teams in League A facing the drop, while the top four in League B are promoted. The same happens all the way down the pyramid, but because there are only two groups in League D there is a play-off between the bottom placed teams in League C, with the two losers being relegated.
Where and when is it being played?
The group stage games were all completed in November last year, with Italy, Belgium, France and Spain all winning their groups and taking their place in the semi-finals.
The first semi-final takes place on October 6 when European Champions, Italy, face Spain. The following evening sees another intriguing clash as Belgium take on France in the Juventus Stadium in Turin.
Both the final and third-place play-off will be held on October 10, with the final at 19:45 in the San Siro.
Who are the previous winners?
Portugal were the winners of the first ever Nations League held in 2019, when a single Goncalo Guedes goal was enough to beat the Netherlands in the final, held in the Estadio de Drago, Porto.
What are the odds for the 2021 Nations League?
Currently France are the favourites at 9/4, with Les Bleus expected to bounce back from their poor European Championship campaign.
They will have to get past the Belgians in the semis first however, and Roberto Martinez’s side are an 11/4 chance to lift the trophy.
European Champions Italy showed what a difficult side they can be to play against when winning this summer, so it is a slight surprise to see them priced up at 11/4.
Their semi-final is a rerun of the same stage at the Euro, where they narrowly edged out Spain. The Spanish sit as fourth favourites at 3/1, but the proximity of prices of all four teams shows just how competitive the final stages of the tournament are.