The 2022–23 UEFA Nations League is the third 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 is being held from June to September 2022 (league phase), June 2023 (Nations League Finals) and March 2024 (relegation play-outs).
2022–23 UEFA Nations League
League phase: 1 June – 27 September 2022 Nations League Finals: 14–18 June 2023 Relegation play-outs: 21–26 March 2024
The 55 UEFA national teams were divided into four leagues, with Leagues A, B, and C featuring 16 teams each, divided into four groups of four teams. League D featured 7 teams divided into two groups, with one containing four teams and the other containing three. The teams were allocated to leagues based on the 2020–21 UEFA Nations League overall ranking. Each team played six matches within their group, except for one group in League D which played four, using the home-and-away round-robin format in June (four matchdays) and September 2022 (two matchdays).
In the top division, League A, teams competed to become the UEFA Nations League champions. The four group winners of League A qualified for the Nations League Finals in June 2023, which was 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, were determined using a draw. The host country was selected among the four qualified teams by the UEFA Executive Committee, with the winners of the final crowned as the Nations League champions.
Teams also competed for promotion and relegation to a higher or lower league. The group winners in Leagues B, C, and D were promoted, while the last-placed teams of each group in Leagues A and B were relegated. As League C had four groups while League D had only two, the League C teams that are to be relegated will be determined by relegation play-outs in March 2024.
Originally, the play-outs would have involved all four of the fourth-placed League C teams, with the two losers being relegated to League D. However, due to the ongoing suspension of Russia from all UEFA competitions, the league allocation for the 2024–25 UEFA Nations League was changed so that only one team would be relegated to League D, ensuring that League C would still consist of 16 teams. Based on the Nations League overall ranking of the fourth-placed teams, the two worst-ranked teams qualified for the play-outs.
The tie will be played over two legs, with the higher-ranked team hosting the second leg. The team that scores more goals on aggregate over the two legs will remain in League C, while the loser will be relegated to League D. If the aggregate score is level, extra time is played without the away goals rule. If the score remains level after extra time, a penalty shoot-out is used to decide the winner.
If two or more teams in the same group were equal on points on completion of the league phase, the following tie-breaking criteria were 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;
If, after having applied criteria 1 to 3, teams still had an equal ranking, criteria 1 to 3 were reapplied exclusively to the matches between the teams in question to determine their final rankings.[a] If this procedure did not lead to a decision, criteria 5 to 11 applied;
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;
Lower disciplinary points total in all group matches (1 point for a single yellow card, 3 points for a red card due to two yellow cards, 3 points for a direct red card, 4 points for a yellow card followed by a direct red card).
^When there were two or more teams tied in points, criteria 1 to 3 were applied. After these criteria were applied, they may have defined the position of some of the teams involved, but not all of them. For example, if there was a three-way tie on points, the application of the first three criteria may only break the tie for one of the teams, leaving the other two teams still tied. In this case, the tiebreaking procedure was resumed, from the beginning, for those teams that were still tied.
Individual league rankings were 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;
Lower disciplinary points total (1 point for a single yellow card, 3 points for a red card due to two yellow cards, 3 points for a direct red card, 4 points for a yellow card followed by a direct red card).
To rank teams in Leagues B and D, which were composed of different sized groups,[note 1] the results against the fourth-placed teams in these leagues were not taken into account to compare teams placed first, second and third in their respective groups.
The ranking of the top 4 teams in League A was determined by their finish in the Nations League Finals.
The Euro 2024 qualifying group stage took place from March to November 2023, deciding 20 of the 23 teams that advanced to the final tournament to join hosts Germany. The 53 teams were drawn into ten groups after the completion of the UEFA Nations League (seven groups of five teams and three groups of six teams, with the four participants in the 2023 UEFA Nations League Finals guaranteed to be drawn into groups of five teams), with the top two teams in each group qualifying. The draw seeding was based on the overall ranking of the Nations League.
Following the qualifying group stage, the UEFA Euro 2024 qualifying play-offs will take place in March 2024. The participants of the play-offs were not decided based on results from the qualifying group stage. Instead, twelve teams were selected based on their performance in the 2022–23 Nations League. These teams will be divided into three paths, each containing four teams, with one team from each path qualifying for the final tournament. The group winners of Nations Leagues A, B, and C automatically qualified for the play-off path of their league unless they had qualified for the final tournament via the qualifying group stage. If a group winner had already qualified through the qualifying group stage, they were replaced by the next best-ranked team in the same league. However, if there were not enough non-qualified teams in the same league, then the spot would go first to the best-ranked group winner of League D unless that team had already qualified for the final tournament. The remaining slots were then allocated to the next best team in the Nations League overall ranking. However, group winners of Leagues B and C could not face teams from a higher league.
The three play-off paths will each feature two single-legged semi-finals and one single-legged final. In the semi-finals, the best-ranked team will host the fourth-ranked team, and the second-ranked team will host the third-ranked team. The host of the final will be drawn between the winners of the semi-final pairings. The three play-off path winners will join the twenty teams that already qualified for the final tournament through the group stage.
The relegation play-outs of League C are scheduled on the same dates as the UEFA Euro 2024 qualifying play-offs. If one or more of the teams due to participate in the relegation play-outs had also qualified for the UEFA Euro 2024 qualifying play-offs, the relegation play-outs would have been cancelled and the teams in League C ranked 47th and 48th in the Nations League overall ranking would be automatically relegated.
All 55 UEFA national teams entered the competition. The teams which finished bottom of their group in Leagues A and B, as well as the losers from the relegation play-outs of League C, from the 2020–21 season moved down a league, while the group winners of Leagues B, C, and D moved up. The remaining teams stayed in their respective leagues.
In the 2022–23 access list, UEFA ranked teams based on the 2020–21 Nations League overall ranking, with a slight modification: teams that were relegated in the previous season were ranked immediately below those who were promoted. The seeding pots for the league phase were based on the access list ranking. The seeding pots, draw procedure, and fixture list procedures were confirmed by the UEFA Executive Committee during their meeting in Chișinău, Moldova, on 22 September 2021.
^ abcdThe identity of the winners and losers of the League C relegation play-outs (involving Cyprus, Estonia, Kazakhstan and Moldova) was unknown at the time of the draw.
The draw for the league phase took place at the UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland, on 16 December 2021, 18:00 CET. The draw, originally planned to take place in Montreux, was held behind closed doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the league phase would be played in June and September 2022, no winter venue restrictions were applied in the draw. For political reasons, Russia and Ukraine (due to the Russian military intervention in Ukraine) could not be drawn into the same group. Due to restrictions of excessive travel, any group could contain a maximum of one of the following pairs: Andorra and Kazakhstan, Malta and Kazakhstan, Northern Ireland and Kazakhstan, Gibraltar and Azerbaijan, Armenia and Iceland, Israel and Iceland.
The four nations from Group A4 (Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland and Wales) bid to host the Nations League Finals. As the nation that qualified for the finals, the Netherlands was granted hosting rights. The semi-final pairings were determined by means of an open draw on 25 January 2023, 11:00 CET, at the UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland. For scheduling purposes, the host team was allocated to semi-final 1 as the administrative home team.
Teams who failed in the UEFA Euro 2024 qualifying group stage can still qualify for the final tournament via the play-offs. Leagues A, B, and C in the UEFA Nations League are allocated one of the three remaining UEFA Euro 2024 places. Four teams from each of these leagues who did not already qualify for the European Championship finals will compete in the play-offs of their league, which will be played in March 2024. The play-off berths were first allocated to each group winner, and if any of the group winners had already qualified for the European Championship finals, then to the next-best ranked team of the league.