UEFA Women’s Nations League draw: Lionesses vs Scotland as 2023/24 groups set

The draw for the inaugural Women’s Nations League has brought about some fascinating matchups to look forward to later this year.

Headlining the draw is the presence of a battle between two home nations. England and Scotland are together in Group A1, meaning that the Old Enemies will face off twice in the Women’s Nations League. Joining the pair in Group A1 are Belgium and the Netherlands.

Elsewhere, the other European countries who are in the top five of the FIFA world rankings – Germany, Sweden, and France – are all separated from one another.

Les Bleus are in Group A2, alongside Norway, Austria, and Portugal. In A3, Germany will take on Denmark, Iceland, and Wales. Meanwhile, Sweden has Spain, Italy, and Switzerland. This means the Scandinavians will now face Italy in both the Women’s World Cup and the Nations League.

Much like the men’s version, the Women’s Nations League is split into levels. The 2023/24 edition has three leagues: A, B, and C.

The B tier is where we find what will be a very hotly contested group. Both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are in Group B1, giving us an Irish Derby. They are joined by Hungary and Albania.

Interestingly, UEFA has offered extra incentive to the top teams for this inaugural competition. The two countries that reach the Final of the 2023/24 Nations League will play at the 2024 Olympic Games.

France has already qualified as hosts of the Olympics, though – so if they are in the Final, the third-place team will take their spot at Paris 2024.

Women’s Nations League draw: the groups in full

League A

A1: England, Netherlands, Belgium, Scotland
A2: France, Norway, Austria, Portugal
A3: Germany, Denmark, Iceland, Wales
A4: Sweden, Spain, Italy, Switzerland

League B

B1: Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Hungary, Albania
B2: Finland, Romania, Slovakia, Croatia
B3: Poland, Serbia, Ukraine, Greece
B4: Czech Republic, Slovenia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Belarus

League C

C1: Malta, Moldova, Latvia, Andorra
C2: Turkey, Luxembourg, Lithuania, Georgia
C3: Azerbaijan, Montenegro, Cyprus, Faroe Islands
C4: Israel, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Armenia
C5: North Macedonia, Kosovo, Bulgaria

How does the tournament work?

In each group, all teams will play each other twice – once home, once away. From this, the team that earns the most points from these matches wins the group. This is particularly important for Group A, as the winners go through to the finals. But we will get to that in a second.

The bottom team of each group in League A suffers relegation to League B. Consequently, the winners of each group in League B get promoted in their place. This is the same case for the bottom group B teams and the winning group C teams. However, the worst third-place team also goes down from League B, meaning five nations are relegated from the middle division.

UEFA has also included two-leg promotion/relegation play-offs between the respective levels. Firstly, the four third-place teams from League A will play the second-place teams from the B tier. The winners go to League A after these games, with the losers going to League B.

Similarly, the top three third-place teams from League B will do battle against the three best second-place countries from the C division. And again, the victors stay in the higher tier, with the losers dropping to League C.

The outcome of the 2023/24 Women’s Nations League does hold some ramifications as it sets the leagues for Women’s EURO 2025 qualifying.

Now, the Nations League finals. These are just single leg matches between the four group winners of League A. Another draw will decide who faces whom in the semi-finals, after which the victors go to the Final.

Meanwhile, the two losing semi-finalists will play a third-place game.

When will the Women’s Nations League matches take place?

The first set of games – matchdays 1 and 2 – are not until September 2023. They will take place across the week of 20-26 September.

Following this, a month’s wait occurs until matchdays 3 and 4, which are from 25-31 October. The League stage will then reach its completion before the end of the calendar year, as matches 5 and 6 are from 29 November – 5 December.

A short break ultimately leaves a waiting time between the league and the finals. Both the semis and showpiece will be within one week – 21-28 February. Also during the same period are the relegation play-offs.

We do, therefore, have a bit of a break between this draw and the Women’s Nations League beginning. Fortunately, the World Cup is drawing ever closer to fill the void.

Featured image credit: UEFA