2020–21 UEFA Nations League
3 September – 17 November 2020
Nations League Finals:
2–6 June 2021
League C play-outs:
24–29 March 2022
The 2020–21 UEFA Nations League will be the second season of the UEFA Nations League, an international association football competition involving the men's national teams of the 55 member associations of UEFA. The competition will be held from September to November 2020 (league phase), June 2021 (Nations League Finals) and March 2022 (League C play-outs). The defending champions are Portugal.
In a revised format from the 2018–19 season, the 55 UEFA national teams are to be divided into four leagues, with 16 teams in Leagues A, B, and C, and 7 teams in League D. The teams are allocated to leagues based on the 2018–19 UEFA Nations League overall ranking.
Leagues A, B and C consist of four groups of four teams, while League D consists of one group of four teams and one group of three teams. This format ensures that for almost all groups, teams in the same group play their last matches at the same time. It also increases the number of total Nations League matches from 138 to 162, and minimises the number of friendly matches.
In League A, teams compete to become the UEFA Nations League champions. The four group winners of League A qualify for the Nations League Finals in June 2021, which is played in a knockout format, consisting of the semi-finals, third place play-off, and final. The semi-final pairings, along with the administrative home teams for the third place play-off and final, are determined by means of a draw. The host country will be selected among the four qualified teams by the UEFA Executive Committee.
Teams also compete for promotion and relegation to a higher or lower league. In each league, the four group winners (except League A) are promoted, while the last-placed teams of each group (except League D) are relegated. However, for League C, as only two teams are promoted from League D, only the two losers of home-and-away play-outs among the four last-placed teams are relegated. The League C play-out matchups are determined by the league ranking:
- 1st ranked fourth-placed team vs 4th ranked fourth-placed team
- 2nd ranked fourth-placed team vs 3rd ranked fourth-placed team
The higher-ranked teams are seeded and play the second leg at home.
Tiebreakers for group ranking
If two or more teams in the same group are equal on points on completion of the league phase, the following tie-breaking criteria are applied:
- Higher number of points obtained in the matches played among the teams in question;
- Superior goal difference in matches played among the teams in question;
- Higher number of goals scored in the matches played among the teams in question;
- Higher number of goals scored away from home in the matches played among the teams in question;
- If, after having applied criteria 1 to 4, teams still have an equal ranking, criteria 1 to 4 are reapplied exclusively to the matches between the teams in question to determine their final rankings.[note 1] If this procedure does not lead to a decision, criteria 6 to 10 apply;
- Superior goal difference in all group matches;
- Higher number of goals scored in all group matches;
- Higher number of away goals scored in all group matches;
- Higher number of wins in all group matches;
- Higher number of away wins in all group matches;
- Disciplinary points in all group matches (1 point for a single yellow card, 3 points for a red card as a consequence of two yellow cards, 3 points for a direct red card, 4 points for a yellow card followed by a direct red card);
- Position in the 2020–21 UEFA Nations League Access List.
Criteria for league ranking
Individual league rankings are established according to the following criteria:
- Position in the group;
- Higher number of points;
- Superior goal difference;
- Higher number of goals scored;
- Higher number of goals scored away from home;
- Higher number of wins;
- Higher number of wins away from home;
- Disciplinary points in all group matches (1 point for a single yellow card, 3 points for a red card as a consequence of two yellow cards, 3 points for a direct red card, 4 points for a yellow card followed by a direct red card).
- Position in the 2020–21 UEFA Nations League Access List.
In order to rank teams in League D composed of different sized groups, the results against fourth-placed teams are not taken into account for the purposes of comparing teams placed first, second and third in their respective groups.
The ranking of the top 4 teams in League A are determined by their finish in the Nations League Finals:
- The winner is ranked 1st;
- The runner-up is ranked 2nd;
- The third-placed team is ranked 3rd;
- The fourth-placed team is ranked 4th.
Criteria for overall ranking
The overall UEFA Nations League rankings are established as follows:
- The 16 League A teams are ranked 1st to 16th according to their league rankings.
- The 16 League B teams are ranked 17th to 32nd according to their league rankings.
- The 16 League C teams are ranked 33rd to 48th according to their league rankings.
- The 7 League D teams are ranked 49th to 55th according to their league rankings.
2022 FIFA World Cup qualification
The Nations League may be partially linked with European qualification for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, similar to the UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying play-offs. The winners of ten groups after the first round will qualify directly. A possible option is to add two teams based on their Nations League performance to the 10 group runners-up for a 12-team second round to be conducted in two knockout rounds, from which an additional three teams will also qualify.
|League phase||Matchday 1||3–5 September 2020|
|Matchday 2||6–8 September 2020|
|Matchday 3||8–10 October 2020|
|Matchday 4||11–13 October 2020|
|Matchday 5||12–14 November 2020|
|Matchday 6||15–17 November 2020|
|Finals||Semi-finals||2–3 June 2021|
|Third place play-off||6 June 2021|
|League C play-outs||First leg||24–25 March 2022|
|Second leg||28–29 March 2022|
Note: The League C play-outs are scheduled on the same dates as the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying play-offs. In the event that a team due to participate in the play-outs is qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup play-offs, no play-outs are played and the League C teams ranked 47th and 48th in the overall UEFA Nations League rankings are relegated (Regulations Article 16.07).
All 55 UEFA national teams will enter the competition. Due to the revamp of the Nations League format, no teams were eventually relegated from 2018–19 season, and the second-placed teams in each group in Leagues C and D and the best third-placed team among all groups in League D were also promoted besides the group winners.
In the 2020–21 UEFA Nations League access list, UEFA ranked teams based on their results in the 2018–19 UEFA Nations League, with a slight modification to the Nations League overall ranking: teams which were originally relegated in the previous season were ranked immediately below teams promoted prior to the format change.
|Originally promoted in previous season (prior to format change)|
|Originally relegated in previous season (spared after format change)|
|*||Promoted after format change|
- "UEFA Nations League receives associations' green light". UEFA. 27 March 2014.
- "Transportation logistics services national team competitions: Invitation to express interest" (PDF). UEFA.com. Union of European Football Associations. p. 2. Retrieved 16 October 2018.
- "Regulations of the UEFA Nations League 2020/21" (PDF). UEFA.com. Union of European Football Associations. 24 September 2019. Retrieved 24 September 2019.
- "UEFA Nations League format and schedule approved". UEFA.com. 4 December 2014.
- "UEFA plots 2022 World Cup qualifying path via Nations League". apnews.com. Associated Press. 4 June 2019. Retrieved 26 September 2019.
- "How the 2020/21 UEFA Nations League will line up". UEFA.com. Union of European Football Associations. 21 November 2018. Retrieved 23 November 2018.
- "Annex D - Evolution of UNL ranking_V2 with new format" (PDF). UEFA.com.
- When there are two or more teams tied in points, criteria 1 to 4 are applied. After these criteria are applied, they may define the position of some of the teams involved, but not all of them. For example, if there is a three-way tie on points, the application of the first four criteria may only break the tie for one of the teams, leaving the other two teams still tied. In this case, the tiebreaking procedure is resumed, from the beginning, for those teams that are still tied.