UEFA Nations League preview: Last chance to dance

Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images
0 Comments

The path to Portugal or Italy concludes this week with the final group matches of the inaugural UEFA Nations League.

We’ll begin with Group A3, where only Poland has been eliminated from qualification for the final. The hosts for the finals will come out of this group, and Portugal has a two-point lead heading into its final two matches.

[ MORE: England-USMNT preview ]

Italy only has one, and has to hope it beats Portugal at the San Siro on Saturday and hope Portugal fails to beat Poland three days later. Portugal has done it all without Cristiano Ronaldo, and won’t have the Juventus striker for these two matches.

World Cup champions France lead Group A1 and can clinch a spot in the finals by not losing to the Netherlands on Friday. Should the Dutch win in Rotterdam, they can pass the French with a defeat of Germany or a draw in Gelsenkirchen coupled with tiebreaker help.

Group A2 looks increasingly likely to go to Belgium. The Red Devils and Switzerland both have six points. They cannot advance simply by beating Iceland on Thursday, but a win or draw would mean needing just a draw or Sunday in Switzerland.

Spain is the favorite for the fourth semifinal spot, though no one in Group 4 has been eliminated from contention. Croatia can advance by beating Spain in Zagreb on Thursday and getting a scoring draw or better in England on Sunday.

Spain is through with a win over Croatia, but opens the door for England with a draw or loss. England has a number of scenarios that work for them, but the easiest involves Spain losing in Croatia and England beating Croatia at Wembley on Sunday.

The Nations League semifinals are June 5 and 6, with the final and third-place match on June 9.

League B has only promoted one team to League A so far (Ukraine). Still alive are Russia, Turkey, Sweden, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Austria, Wales, and Denmark.