Republic of Ireland to face very familiar opponents in UEFA Nations League

The Republic of Ireland will face a rerun of their World Cup qualifying campaign in the inaugural UEFA Nations League.

Republic of Ireland to face very familiar opponents in UEFA Nations League

The Republic of Ireland will face a rerun of their World Cup qualifying campaign in the inaugural UEFA Nations League, writes Stephen Barry.

Ireland have been drawn in Group 4 of League B against their play-off conquerors Denmark and Wales, who they defeated in Cardiff to progress to the play-offs. The latter side will be under new manager Ryan Giggs.

Northern Ireland were drawn against Austria and Bosnia and Herzegovina in League B Group 3.

The three teams will face each other home and away, with the top side promoted to League A and the bottom side relegated to League C.

The group winners will also enter a play-off against the other League B group winners for a spot at Euro 2020.

In League A, Group 1 will take top billing as Germany, France and Holland were drawn together.

Spain and England will face each other in Group 4, along with Croatia.

Here's the draw in full:

LEAGUE A

GROUP 1: Germany, France, Netherlands

GROUP 2: Belgium, Switzerland, Iceland

GROUP 3: Portugal, Italy, Poland

GROUP 4: Spain, England, Croatia

LEAGUE B

GROUP 1: Slovakia, Ukraine, Czech Republic

GROUP 2: Russia, Sweden, Turkey

GROUP 3: Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Northern Ireland

GROUP 4: Wales, Republic of Ireland, Denmark

LEAGUE C

GROUP 1: Scotland, Albania, Israel

GROUP 2: Hungary, Greece, Finland, Estonia

GROUP 3: Slovenia, Norway, Bulgaria, Cyprus

GROUP 4: Romania, Serbia, Montenegro, Lithuania

LEAGUE D

GROUP 1: Georgia, Latvia, Kazakhstan, Andorra

GROUP 2: Belarus, Luxembourg, Moldova, San Marino

GROUP 3: Azerbaijan, Faroe Islands, Malta, Kosovo

GROUP 4: FYR Macedonia, Armenia, Liechtenstein, Gibraltar

Here's the outline of the competition format:

What is the UEFA Nations League?

It is a new international competition which will replace most friendlies with competitive matches.

The Nations League is designed to allow teams to play against those who are equally ranked.

It is made up of four mini-leagues, which each contain four groups.

There is also the chance to qualify for Euro 2020 with the play-offs for the tournament due to involve the 16 Nations League group winners.

If they have already qualified for Euro 2020 the next best-ranked team in their league will go into the play-offs.

Each league has a path of its own, and will consist of two single-leg semi-finals and a one-off final. The winner of each path qualifies for EURO 2020.

How does the league work?

The 55 nations will be divided into four mini-leagues (A, B, C, D) with the allocation determined by each country’s UEFA ranking in November 2017.

Those with the highest ranking will go into League A and so on and each league will be split into groups of three or four teams, playing home and away.

The four group winners of League A qualify for the UEFA Nations League Finals in June 2019.

The winners of each group in Leagues B, C and D are promoted but those who finish bottom of each group in A, B and C will be relegated. The next season is 2020/21.

When does it start?

There are 138 league fixtures which start with match day one between September 6th and 8th 2018.

The draw for the finals is in December with the finals, which includes semi-finals and a third-placed game, held between June 5th-9th, 2019.

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