Betting on Nations League was still a bit obscure in the early days of the tournament. Would countries take the tournament seriously and field their best 11? Nowadays, it is a tournament for the real punters, who soon realised that all countries play against countries from the same pool. In other words; no Moldova against France. That means every match has interesting odds and your football knowledge counts all the more.
Set-up tournament… or competition after all?
The UEFA Nations League replaces friendly internationals and gives them a bit more allure by raising the stakes. The tournament is played once every two years, when there are no major tournaments (European Championship/World Cup).
The tournament takes place in the months of September, October and November. Due to the corona crisis and an unusual World Cup in Qatar, things were a little different in 2022. That year, the group stage was played in June and September. This served as a good preparation for the World Cup for European teams.
UEFA’s 55 member states were divided into four divisions in 2018 based on the coefficient list. Respectively called divisions A, B, C, and D with 12, 12, 15 and 16 countries. These divisions are again divided into pools of four teams.
The teams in division A compete for the title, while the teams in division B,C and D play for promotion to a higher division. The teams that finish last in divisions A, B and C actually relegate. The Nations League is a unique combination between a tournament and a competition.
The winners of the groups in division A (after six matches have been played) advance to the semi-finals (four teams total). The winners from these semi-finals play the final for the cup.
Betting on Nations League | Contenders
The Nations League participants are UEFA’s 55 members. So there is a big (if not total) overlap with the European Championship. What you get to see on TV is not a reflection of the whole tournament, but of your country’s division.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t bet on all the Nations League divisions and matches. We take you through a few contenders, as well as a few promotion candidates we might see shining in the magical Division A in the future:
Division A: consists of the following countries:
- Group A1: France, Denmark, Croatia, Austria
- Group A2: Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Czech Republic
- Group A3: Italy, Germany, England, Hungary
- Group A4: Belgium, Netherlands, Poland, Wales
Of these countries, the usual suspects with a chance of winning the title are France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Germany, England, Belgium and the Netherlands. We advise against betting on countries from Group A3; by far the most competitive group. Relegation candidates are Wales, Denmark and Austria.
Contenders promotion Division A
In Division B, a few countries are vying for a chance at the final victory next year. Sweden, Scotland, Romania and Ukraine are countries with a strong chance of playing among the elite at the next edition.
- Group B1: Ukraine, Scotland, Republic of Ireland, Armenia
- Group B2: Iceland, Russia*, Israel, Albania
- Group B3: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Finland, Romania, Montenegro
- Group B4: Sweden, Norway, Serbia, Slovenia
Conspicuously absent from the two highest divisions is Turkey, currently playing in Division C with Luxembourg, Gibraltar and Cyprus. Surely that is beneath this great footballing nation.
Betting on Nations League football
Betting on Nations League is unique because of the special format of the competition. Before the Nations League, we only saw countries at final tournaments in their strongest line-up. Because countries are divided into equal divisions instead of qualifying tournaments with the Andorra’s and Malta’s of this world, bookmakers get a much better picture of the balance of power between them. This means Nations League matches are not ideally suited for:
- Over/under bets: if all goes well, countries are evenly matched
- Handicap bets: idem
Betting on Nations League is suitable for:
- Outright winner: Unlike the Champions League, where a minimum of 32 teams have a chance of winning the final victory (not counting qualifiers), the Nations League has only 12 countries playing for the marbles. Of these 12, you can already write off 4 as (virtually) hopeless. A chance of 1 in 8, without having used any football knowledge for your consideration.
- Correct score: Whereas in qualifying matches and friendly internationals scores of 8-0 sometimes appear on the board, the Nations League set-up ‘guarantees’ moderate results.
- Half-time/full-time: ditto. With 0-0, 0-1 and 1-0 half-time, you can play well in the Nations League!
It will be some time before historical works on Nations League history appear, the tournament is simply too young for that. What we do know is that the tournament is already in its third life anyway, having been unanimously adopted by all UEFA members at the 2014 congress in Astana, Kazakhstan.
France can call itself title holder, having snatched the trophy from Portugal in 2020/2021. A lot has already happened in the early life of the tournament in terms of organisation. For instance, the pots were redistributed after the first edition and the tournament was moved due to an over-hit World Cup.
Memorabele Nations League momenten
As we mention in our betting markets, big results are rare due to the format of the tournament. So keep that in mind when betting on Nations League football. To illustrate, the finals ended in 1-0 and 2-1, the consolation finals in 0-0 and 2-1.
The most exciting matches so far were all played in the semi-finals. In 2021, France won 3-2 over Belgium after the Belgians led 2-0 until the 61st minute. In the 87th minute, when the score was 2-2, a Belgium goal was disallowed, in the 90th minute Pogba shot at the crossbar and in the same minute Hernández made the redeeming 2-3 on a Benzema pass.
The inaugural UEFA Nations League was held in 2018-2019.
Winning the Nations League offers a chance to compete in the UEFA European Championship and provides a path to the World Cup for teams that do not qualify through traditional qualifiers.
The competition consists of four leagues (A, B, C, and D) with teams divided into groups. Each league has promotion and relegation, and the top teams in League A compete for the title in a final tournament.
The UEFA Nations League was created to address issues surrounding the relevance of international friendlies and to provide more competitive matches for national teams.
Teams are seeded based on their performance in previous editions of the Nations League, ensuring balanced groups and competitive matches.