The semi-finals and finals of the 2021 UEFA Nations League take place in Italy this week, with four of the top eight teams in the world ranking: Belgium, France, Italy and Spain. Italy is the defending champion of Euro 2021, while France is the current champion of the 2018 World Cup.
The semi-final of the One Nations League will be a rematch of an exciting semi-final of Euro 2021 played last July (Italy vs. Spain), while the other will face two teams that met in the semi-final of the World Cup in FIFA 2018 (France vs. Belgium). The winners will meet in the Nations League final on Sunday, October 10, while the semi-final losers will play for third place on the same day.
Here’s everything you need to know about the competition, how it works, how to watch it, and what’s at stake.
Nations League finals schedule
The UEFA Nations League is a biennial tournament that was launched in 2018 to replace friendlies with meaningful competition. The inaugural edition was held between 2018 and 2019 with Portugal lifting the trophy for the first time.
Belgium, France, Italy and Spain reached the final of the 2021 edition by virtue of finishing at the top of their respective groups in League A. After a draw held in December 2020, these are the pairings:
Semifinal # 1: Wednesday, October 6
|Semifinal # 1: Italy vs. Spain||2:45 pm ET||Milan||ESPN2, UniMas, TUDN||fuboTV|
Semifinal # 2: Thursday, October 7
|Semifinal # 2: Belgium vs. France||2:45 pm ET||Turin||ESPN2, UniMas, TUDN||fuboTV|
Third place: Sunday, October 10
|Semi # 1 losers vs. Semi # 2||9 am ET||Turin||ESPNU, UniMas, TUDN||fuboTV|
End: Sunday, October 10
|Semi Winners # 1 vs. Semi # 2||2:45 pm ET||Milan||ESPN, Univision, TUDN||fuboTV|
How to watch Nations League
- Dates: Wednesday, October 6 – Sunday, October 10
- Times: 2:45 p.m. ET (third-place game begins at 9 a.m. ET)
- TV channels: ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU
- Spanish television: Univision, UniMas, TUDN
- Transmission: fuboTV (7-day free trial)
The semi-finals and finals of the UEFA Nations League will be televised in English and Spanish in the United States by the ESPN family of networks and Univision, respectively. Those channels are available to broadcast on fuboTV with a 7-day free trial available to new users.
What happens if the semi-finals or finals of the Nations League are drawn?
According to the official tournament rulesIf there is no winner at the end of the regulation 90 minutes, an overtime period of 30 minutes is played, divided into two halves of 15 minutes each.
If there is still no winner after 30 minutes of overtime, then the match will be decided by a penalty shoot-out.
MORE: PK’s shooting that crowned Italy’s Euro 2021 champions
Nations League cash prizes
In addition to the League of Nations trophy at stake, there are cash prizes that go to each respective federation based on the result:
- Winner: $ 12.1 million
- Runner-up: $ 10.4 million
- 3rd place: $ 9.2 million
- 4th place: $ 8.1 million
According to UEFA, the above figures include the entry fee and prize money for winning their respective UEFA Nations League groups.
Why are the Nations League finals played in Italy?
Given that Italy, Poland and the Netherlands All submitted offers to host the UEFA Nations League finals and the three nations were also competing in Group 1, the UEFA Executive Committee decided that the winner of that group would host the finals.
Italy finished at the top of Group 1, one point ahead of the Netherlands and five better than Poland. As a result, the UEFA executive committee in December 2020 Italy formally confirmed as host of the 2021 tournament.
How do teams qualify for the Nations League finals?
The 55 nations that make up UEFA are divided into four different leagues according to a UEFA ranking system called the “Access List”. The best teams are in League A and the worst ranked teams are in League D. Teams move up and down in the different leagues:
UEFA countries in the Nations League:
- League A: 16 nations, 4 groups
- League B: 16 nations, 4 groups
- League C: 16 nations, 4 groups
- League D: 7 nations, 2 groups
Nations League Format: Within each “league”, countries are divided into groups of four teams (except for a group of three solo teams in League D). Each team plays against the others in the group once at home and once away.
What is at stake: Those who finish first in League A advance to the Nations League finals and battle for the trophy and prize money, while the nations that lead the groups in Leagues B, C and D win promotion to the Upper level. Those who finish last in the group of Leagues A and B descend one notch lower, and the last teams of Group C meet in a tiebreaker to determine the two teams relegated to League D.
Italy (Group 1), Belgium (Group 2), France (Group 3) and Spain (Group 4) reached the final in 2021 by finishing at the top of their respective groups in League A.
How many substitutes in the Nations League?
Each team involved in the semi-finals and finals is allowed a maximum of five substitutes, with a sixth substitute allowed per team if the match goes into overtime.
Teams may stop play a maximum of three times to make substitutions with an additional stoppage allowed in overtime. Substitutions made at halftime, at the end of the regulation or at halftime of the overtime period will not count against the allowed interruptions.
Which teams have won the Nations League?
The team that wins the 2021 Nations League will succeed Portugal, who won the inaugural edition in 2019 at home by beating the Netherlands in the final with a single goal from Goncalo Guedes.
That tournament had a similar format, but the final four teams were all different: England, Holland, Switzerland and host Portugal.
Nations League Semifinals and Finals 2019
Portugal 3, Switzerland 1
Netherlands 3, England 1 (aet)
England 0, Switzerland 0 (6-5 in PK)
Portugal 1, Netherlands 0
Will the Nations League finalists miss the World Cup qualifiers?
There is a reason why Italy, Belgium, Spain and France formed groups of five teams in qualifying for the UEFA World Cup. That ensured they would have a total of eight group stage matches compared to the 10 matches played in the other groups with six nations competing.
So while other nations in Europe will be busy with World Cup qualifiers during this October 2021 international window, these four nations do not have World Cup qualifying matches scheduled. All of your qualifiers fit into the other available windows.
MORE: Updated UEFA Champions League standings and schedule
Nations League finals listings
Each team has summoned a roster of 23 players for the UEFA Nations League finals. Club teams follow each name in parentheses.
Goalkeepers (3): Koen Casteels (VfL Wolfsburg), Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid), Simon Mignolet (Club Brugge)
Defenders (6): Toby Alderweireld (Al-Duhail), Dedryck Boyata (Hertha Berlin), Timothy Castagne (Leicester City), Jason Denayer (Lyon), Thomas Foket (Stade de Reims), Jan Vertonghen (Benfica)
Midfielders (7): Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Leander Dendoncker (Wolves), Thorgan Hazard (Borussia Dortmund), Alexis Saelemaekers (AC Milan), Youri Tielemans (Leicester City), Hans Vanaken (Club Brugge), Axel Witsel (Borussia) Dortmund)
Forwards (7): Michy Batshuayi (Besiktas), Yannick Carrasco (Atlético de Madrid), Charles De Ketelaere (Club Brugge), Eden Hazard (Real Madrid), Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea), Dodi Lukebakio (VfL Wolfsburg), Leandro Trossard (Brighton)
Goalkeepers (3): Benoit Costil (Bordeaux), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Mike Maignan (AC Milan)
Defenders (9): Lucas Digne (Everton), Leo Dubois (Lyon), Lucas Hernandez (Bayern Munich), Theo Hernandez (AC Milan), Presnel Kimpembe (PSG), Jules Kounde (Sevilla), Benjamin Pavard (Bayern Munich), Dayot Upamecano (Bayern Munich) ))), Raphael Varane (Manchester United)
Midfielders (5): Matteo Guendouzi (Marseille), Paul Pogba (Manchester United), Adrien Rabiot (Juventus), Aurelien Tchouameni (Monaco), Jordan Veretout (AS Roma)
Forwards (6): Wissam Ben Yedder (Monaco), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Moussa Diaby (Bayer Leverkusen), Antoine Griezmann (Atlético de Madrid), Anthony Martial (Manchester United), Kylian Mbappé (PSG)
Goalkeepers (3): Gianluigi Donnarumma (PSG), Alex Meret (Naples), Salvatore Sirigu (Genoa)
Defenders (8): Francesco Acerbi (Lazio), Alessandro Bastoni (Inter Milan), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Davide Calabria (AC Milan), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Giovanni Di Lorenzo (Naples), Federico Dimarco (Inter Milan), Emerson Palmieri (Lyon))
Midfielders (7): Nicolo Barella (Inter Milan), Federico Bernardeschi (Juventus), Bryan Cristante (AS Roma), Jorginho (Chelsea), Manuel Locatelli (Juventus), Lorenzo Pellegrini (AS Roma), Marco Verratti (PSG)
Forwards (5): Domenico Berardi (Sassuolo), Federico Chiesa (Juventus), Lorenzo Insigne (Naples), Moise Kean (Juventus), Giacomo Raspadori (Sassuolo)
Goalkeepers (3): David de Gea (Manchester United), Robert Sanchez (Brighton), Unai Simon (Athletic Bilbao)
Defenders (8): Marcos Alonso (Chelsea), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Eric García (Barcelona), Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City), Inigo Martínez (Athletic Bilbao), Pedro Porro (Sporting CP), Sergio Reguilon (Tottenham), Pau Torres (Villarreal)
Midfielders (9): Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Pablo Fornals (West Ham), Gavi (Barcelona), Bryan Gil (Tottenham), Koke (Atlético de Madrid), Mikel Merino (Real Sociedad), Mikel Oyarzabal (Real Sociedad), Rodri (Manchester City) , Sergi Roberto (Barcelona)
Forwards (3): Yeremi Pino (Villarreal), Pablo Sarabia (Sporting CP), Ferran Torres (Manchester City)
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.