UEFA Women’s Nations League explainer
We do love a good UEFA Nations League explainer and the inaugural competition for international women’s teams give us a chance to delve into the usual sideways Q&A format we like for this sort of thing.
Which league are the Girls in Green in?
The Republic of Ireland women’s team are in League B in Group B1. We were placed in the second tier of the competition based on our UEFA ranking following the qualification process for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
We were the 17th ranked team. If we were ranked one position higher, we would have been in League A.
Who are our opponents?
We are in a group with Northern Ireland, who we play in the Aviva Stadium this Saturday. Our opposition have a UEFA ranking of 23.
We are away to Hungary (ranking 28) on Tuesday 26 September and Albania (ranking 32) is the fourth team to round out the group.
When will the games take place?
Ireland will play the other three teams in our group home and away between September and the first week of December.
What is at stake?
It isn’t just pride at stake in getting out of League B and promotion into League A but the competition, like the men’s version, feeds into qualification for major tournaments and EURO 2025 in particular.
If Ireland win their group, they will be promoted to League A.
Can you tell me more about the promotion and relegation play-offs please?
Since you asked so nicely, I will.
The group runners up will play against the third-placed teams in League A, with the winner earning a place in League A while the defeated teams will play in League B.
The three best third-placed teams play off against the three best-ranked second-placed teams of League C. The winners play in League B for the European Qualifiers phase; the defeated teams will play in League C.
The lowest ranked third-placed team and the four fourth-placed teams will be relegated to League C.
All play-offs are played over two legs, with ties determined by a draw. The third-placed teams are seeded for the draw and play their respective second-leg matches at home.
So how does the Nations League feed into the qualifiers for EURO 2025 due to be held in Switzerland?
The European Qualifiers start in spring 2024 and are composed of a league stage and final tournament play-offs.
The league stage is played in the same format as the Nations League, with teams split into three leagues: League A with 16 teams, League B with 16 teams and League C with 19 teams. Each team's starting league position is determined based on the results of the Nations League, as described above.
Again, each team play home and away against all the other teams in their group.
The final European Qualifiers league ranking will reward the eight top teams in League A with direct qualification for UEFA Women's EURO 2025.
The remaining slots will be contested over two rounds of home-and-away European Qualifiers play-offs.
So tell me about these play-offs, presume it is a simpler play-off route than the recent World Cup?
Ok. Hold onto your hats.
In the first round, the teams finishing third and fourth in League A will play the winners and three best-ranked runners-up in League C. The eight winners progress to the second round.
The four group winners and two best-ranked runners-up in League B will be drawn into six ties against the remaining two runners-up and four third-placed teams in League B. The six winners progress to the second round.
In the second round, the teams will be drawn into seven ties, with the seven winners progressing to the final tournament.
They don’t make it simple, do they?