In order to counteract what many view as meaningless international friendlies, UEFA have established the Nations League, which will be played off between teams of similar standards.
Starting next year, there will be four leagues, with each country placed in a division rated on their level according to their UEFA’s national team co-efficient ranking.. This is a separate competition to the Euro 2020 qualifiers.
UEFA Nations League
League A: Germany, Portugal, Belgium, Spain, France, England, Switzerland, Italy, Poland, Iceland, Croatia, Netherlands
League B: Austria, Wales, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden, Ukraine, Republic of Ireland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Northern Ireland, Denmark, Czech Republic, Turkey
League C: Hungary, Romania, Scotland, Slovenia, Greece, Serbia, Albania, Norway, Montenegro, Israel, Bulgaria, Finland, Cyprus, Estonia, Lithuania
League D: Azerbaijan, FYR Macedonia, Belarus, Georgia, Armenia, Latvia, Faroe Islands, Luxembourg, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Liechtenstein, Malta, Andorra, Kosovo, San Marino, Gibraltar
League A is made up of the 12 top teams from that list, with Leagues B (12), C (15) and D (16) containing the other 43 nations in descending order.
The Nations League group draw in Switzerland on 24 January will see each League split into mini-groups of three teams and there will be six matchdays between September and November 2018.
From there, the group winners will then contest the UEFA Nations League Finals (semi-finals, third-place match and final) in June 2019, to become the UEFA Nations League winners.
There’s also a pitfall for the four teams who finish bottom of their groups, as they will be relegated to League B for the 2020 edition and replaced by the four group winners from League B.
There are still 24 finalists, but the normal qualifying process now begins in March of the year following the World Cup rather than in September of the same year.
The normal European qualifiers will be linked with the Nations League, although the majority of teams will still book their finals place the usual way.
There will be 10 qualifying groups of five or six teams, with the top two from each group qualifying to make up 20 finalists.
With no host nation getting an automatic spot – there will be 13 countries hosting games at Euro 2020 including Scotland – that leaves four places to be claimed through the Nations League.
These four spots will be decided through play-offs contested by the 16 Nations League group winners – four from each league.
If a team fails to qualify the traditional way, each league has a path of its own to the finals.
The remaining four spots at Euro2020 will be taken up by the four winners of each league’s separate playoff.
However, if a group winner has already qualified for the finals through the traditional qualifying process, their spot in the play-off will go to the next best ranked team in their league.
And if a league can’t find four teams to compete, the remaining slots are allocated to teams from another league based on the overall Nations League rankings.
UEFA Nations League key dates
Group stage draw: 24 January 2018
Matchday 1: 6–8 September 2018
Matchday 2: 9–11 September 2018
Matchday 3: 11–13 October 2018
Matchday 4: 14–16 October 2018
Matchday 5: 15–17 November 2018
Matchday 6: 18–20 November 2018
Finals draw: early December 2018
Finals: 5–9 June 2019
UEFA EURO 2020 play-off draw: 22 November 2019
UEFA EURO 2020 play-offs: 26–31 March 2020