Euro 2020 runner-up England and the talented side Norway have been drawn into a tough group each after the completion of UEFA Nations League 2023 group draw on Thursday in Nyon, Switzerland.
Being in level A of Nations League, any big team would definitely risk of being seeded in a tough group since league A is the pool of European top teams. In the upcoming edition, The Three Lions are the ones which have to go face their classic oppositions which they met in EURO 2020, Germany and Italy in group A3 to advance to the final four. Another team in the group is their contender in the world cup 2022 qualifiers, Hungary. Such draw result has raised some doubts on Gareth Southgate’s men to progress since their last Nations League campaign in 2021 ended up in disappointment despite only being seeded in a relatively easy with Belgium, Denmark and Iceland. Harry Kane and Co only finished third, which is quite a setback compared to their 2019 campaign when they could finish third in a final four. In the two last editions, the current title holder France was the one always included in the group of death with Germany and Netherlands in 2019 and Portugal plus Croatia in 2021 edition. They eventually manage to get by and win the title. So, would being grouped with other big teams help encourging England to show their best potential? It is still too early to tell.
Meanwhile, Norway which is expected to raise their level to higher league will see an even more difficult group than the previous edition. Erling Haaland and Co will be battling against their neighbour Sweden, the giant killer Serbia plus the dark horse Slovenia to get promoted into league A. The lady luck does not seem to be on their side yet. In 2021, they had a chance to climb to the top level as they had better goal aggregate compared to Austria. Unfortunately, Stale Solbakken’s side were suspended by UEFA with 3-0 defeat against Romania due to being unable to travel to Bucharest regarding the COVID-19 contraction in their team. In the last world cup qualifiers, Norway were seeded at the same group with Turkey and Netherlands. Erling Haaland’s injury contributed their failure to finish second to earn the playoff place. The young striker sensation had to be sidelined in the crucial games. It would be interesting to see how Norway’s talents such as Martin Odegaard, Milan loanee Jens Petter Hauge, Sampdoria’s Morten Thorsby, Rennes man Birger Meling, Watford forward Joshua King and Real Sociedad striker Alexander Sorloth plus Haaland himself could improve the team’s form in the next Nations League. The team certainly has potential for another golden generation after the 1990s squad.
UEFA Nations League 2023 will be held from June to September 2022 while the final four will be staged in June 2023. There are still four teams from 2021 edition which have to face off to avoid relegations in the relegation playouts. They are Cyprus, Estonia, Kazakhstan and Moldova. The final ranks in this Nations League’s edition will serve as additional reference for EURO 2024 playoff. Here is the complete list of all groups in each division.
A1: France, Denmark, Croatia, Austria
A2: Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Czech Republic
A3: Italy, Germany, England, Hungary
A4: Belgium, Netherlands, Poland, Wales
B1: Ukraine, Scotland, Ireland, Armenia
B2: Iceland, Russia, Israel, Albania
B3: Bosnia Herzegovina, Finland, Romania, Montenegro
B4: Sweden, Norway, Serbia, Slovenia
C1: Turkey, Luxemburg, Lithuania, Faroe Island
C2: Northern Ireland, Greece, Kosovo, Cyprus/Estonia
C3: Slovakia, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Moldova/ Kazakhstan
C4: Bulgaria, Georgia, Gibraltar, North Macedonia
D1: Latvia, Liechtenstein, Andorra, Kazakhstan/Moldova
D2: San Marino, Malta, Estonia/Cyprus
In the future, European football governing body is even considering adding South American team in the future editions of Nations League following the official collaboration of UEFA-CONMEBOL. Such deal will be announced by the clash of two recent continental champions, Italy and Argentina in London in June 2022. These two confederations apparently are well-prepared in a battle against FIFA’s biennial world cup plan.