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Women's Nations League: Guide to the groups

We introduce the League A contenders as the new competition begins.

Former European champions Germany and Sweden, and EURO title-holders England, are all aiming to win the new Nations League
Former European champions Germany and Sweden, and EURO title-holders England, are all aiming to win the new Nations League FIFA via Getty Images

The new UEFA Women's Nations League kicks off on Friday, with the first two sets of fixtures taking place over the coming days.

While teams in League A will compete to win their groups and progress to February's finals, which will also act as UEFA's 2024 women's Olympic football tournament qualifiers, promotion and relegation will also be at stake. The leagues that emerge at the end of this first edition will then be used for the European Qualifiers for UEFA Women's EURO 2025 in Switzerland.

UEFA.com introduces the top groups as well as the other leagues.

UEFA Women's Nations League: The leagues and groups

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

League B
Group B1: Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Hungary, Albania
Group B2: Finland, Romania, Slovakia, Croatia
Group B3: Poland, Serbia, Ukraine, Greece
Group B4: Czechia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belarus

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

All the matches

League A

Group A1

Fresh from reaching the World Cup final to cap a year in which they also won UEFA Women's EURO 2022 and the Women's Finalissima, England now begin their path to potential success in two more competitions. Not just the Nations League but also the Olympics, as their results could earn Great Britain and Northern Ireland a place at the women's football tournament in 2024.

Scotland will hope to immediately stymie those ambitions when they visit Sunderland to face England in the opening game, particularly after coming close to a second straight World Cup qualification before the Republic of Ireland edged the play-off at Hampden Park.

EURO 2017 semi-finals: Wiegman's Netherlands beat England

Two-time UEFA Women's Coach of the Year Sarina Wiegman then takes her side to Utrecht to face her native Netherlands. Indeed, the match is at the very stadium where Wiegman's Oranje outfit won their EURO 2017 opener as hosts before taking the title. The Netherlands' run to the 2022 World Cup quarter-finals, despite the continued absence of Vivianne Miedema, suggests they are recapturing the form they showed before their former coach left for England.

Andries Jonker's team also open next Friday with a 'derby' match as they visit Belgium. The Red Flames, like Scotland, missed out on the World Cup after losing in the play-offs but in reaching the EURO 2022 quarter-finals, they confirmed their own status as an emerging force.

Friday 22 September
Belgium vs Netherlands (20:30)
England vs Scotland (20:45)

Tuesday 26 September
Netherlands vs England (20:00)
Scotland vs Belgium (20:45)

Group A2

Olympic hosts France do not have to worry about qualification for the 2024 tournament but that will not lessen their Nations League ambition, especially after the latest in a series of major tournament near-misses at the 2022 World Cup, where new coach Hervé Renard watched his team lose an epic quarter-final penalty shoot-out to hosts Australia.

Norway have an even fresher face in charge, with former men's U21 coach Leif Gunnar Smerud acting as interim boss following the departure of Hege Riise after their World Cup round of 16 exit. This is Smerud's second caretaker spell in charge of the women's team, while he has also enjoyed a stint as assistant coach.

Women's EURO 2022 highlights: Austria 1-0 Norway

Austria, who reached the EURO quarter-finals before losing in the World Cup play-offs, are Norway's visitors on Matchday 1. In fact, Irene Fuhrmann's side beat the Scandinavians 1-0 to pip them to the last eight in England.

Portugal did make it through the World Cup play-offs and impressed at the finals despite their group exit, losing narrowly to the Netherlands, beating Vietnam then holding the United States to a goalless draw. France would do well not to underestimate the Portuguese in their Valenciennes opener.

Friday 22 September
Norway vs Austria
France vs Portugal (21:10)

Tuesday 26 September
Austria vs France (18:30)
Portugal vs Norway (19:15)

Group A3

Germany's unprecedented World Cup group exit was a major shock, particularly after they took England to extra time in the EURO final at Wembley despite losing Alex Popp in the warm-up. Britta Carlson takes temporary charge for the opening games against Denmark and Iceland due to Martina Voss-Tecklenburg's illness.

Denmark did make it out of the group in their first World Cup for 16 years before losing to Australia. Under experienced new coach Andrée Jeglertz, the Danes start their campaign against a side they have faced in both the last two EUROs: They ended Germany's 22-year reign as European champions with a 2-1 quarter-final victory in 2017 but lost 4-0 in the group stage last year.

Women's EURO 2022 highlights: Germany 4-0 Denmark

Iceland, who have qualified for the last four EUROs and held Belgium, Italy and France to draws in the 2022 finals, are not to be taken lightly. Indeed, had the Netherlands not scored in added time of their last World Cup qualifier in Utrecht, Iceland would have secured a debut place in the global finals rather than having to go into the play-offs, where they fell to Portugal after extra time.

Wales also lost in extra time in the World Cup play-offs, conceding a last-gasp goal against Switzerland as penalties loomed in Zürich. That was the closest Wales have come to a major tournament, but their presence in League A is proof of their rapid rise up the ranks in recent years.

Friday 22 September
Denmark vs Germany (18:00)
Iceland vs Wales

Tuesday 26 September
Germany vs Iceland (18:15)
Wales vs Denmark (20:15)

Group A4

Having claimed their first major title last month, and now under new coach Montse Tomé, world champions Spain kick off their campaign to add more honours with Friday's trip to Sweden. They will hope for a similar outcome to their World Cup semi-final against the same opponents, where Spain clinched victory with a last-gasp Olga Carmona goal, who promptly then scored the winner in the decider with England.

Sweden's World Cup bronze was the fifth time in six major tournaments that they have reached at least the semi-finals. Their 2016 and 2021 Olympic silver medals will be an extra incentive here, on top of the chance to end what would be a 40-year wait for a second major title after winning the inaugural EURO in 1984.

Women's EURO 2022: Story of the tournament

After falling in the World Cup group stage, Italy begin the Nations League with a new coach in Andrea Soncin. They host Sweden on Matchday 2, aiming to make amends for their 5-0 loss to the same opponents at the World Cup.

Switzerland play host to Italy in the teams' opening group game. Having finished above Norway and eliminated co-hosts New Zealand in the World Cup group stage, the Swiss fell to a 5-1 defeat against a rampant Spain in the round of 16. Coach Inka Grings, with more than half an eye on the home UEFA Women's EURO 2025, has promoted teenagers Leela Egli and Noemi Ivelj to her squad, the pair fresh from pipping Germany to the 2023 WU17 EURO semis.

Friday 22 September
Sweden vs Spain (18:30)
Switzerland vs Italy (19:30)

Tuesday 26 September
Italy vs Sweden (17:45)
Spain vs Switzerland (21:00)

All times CET

Leagues B & C

No Nations League Finals or Olympics spots are on offer outside League A, but there is much to play for in the shape of promotion ahead of the European Qualifiers for Switzerland 2025. An immediate encounter that stands out pits World Cup qualifiers Republic of Ireland with EURO 2022 qualifiers Northern Ireland, in the first women's international at Dublin Arena on Saturday.

Finland, who were also at EURO 2022, are another nation with clear top-level ambitions, while Wolfsburg's Ewa Pajor will be providing star quality for Poland. In League C, Andorra return to competitive action for the first time in six years.

Introducing the UEFA Women's Nations League

Women's Nations League: How it works

Who plays in the UEFA Women's Nations League finals?

The four League A group winners qualify for the knockout finals.

When are the UEFA Women's Nations League finals?

The UEFA Women's Nations League finals will take place between 21 and 28 February 2024. The draw will determine who is at home in the semi-finals, the final and the third-place play-off.

Who qualifies from the UEFA Women's Nations League finals for the 2024 Olympics in France?

The two finalists qualify for the 2024 women's Olympic football tournament, alongside hosts France.

If France are among the finalists, the third-placed team fills the remaining slot in the Olympic Games. If an association qualifies that has not been confirmed by FIFA as eligible to participate in the women's Olympic football tournament, the next best-placed team that has not qualified takes their place.

Women's national team competitions explained

Who is promoted, relegated and goes into play-offs?

League A

The top two teams in each group remain in League A for the European Qualifiers for UEFA Women's EURO 2025.

The four third-placed teams take on the second-placed teams in League B. The winners of each match play in League A for the European Qualifiers phase; the defeated teams will play in League B.

The fourth-placed teams are relegated to League B.

League B

The four group winners are promoted to League A.

The four second-placed teams play against the third-placed teams in League A. The winners of each match play in League A for the European Qualifiers phase; the defeated teams will play in League B.

The three best third-placed teams play off against the three best-ranked second-placed teams of League C. The winners play in League B for the European Qualifiers phase; the defeated teams will play in League C.

The lowest ranked third-placed team and the four fourth-placed teams are relegated to League C.

League C

The five group winners are promoted to League B.

The third best-ranked second-placed teams play against the three best third-placed teams of League B. The winners play in League B for the European Qualifiers phase; the defeated teams play in League C.

The remaining teams stay in League C

When are the UEFA Women's Nations League promotion/relegation matches?

The UEFA Women's Nations League promotion/relegation matches will take place between 21 and 28 February 2024.