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29 Sept 2022

What relegation could mean for England as Gareth Southgate’s men leave top table

What relegation could mean for England as Gareth Southgate’s men leave top table

England were relegated from League A of the Nations League on Friday night after losing 1-0 to Italy at San Siro.

Gareth Southgate’s side are now certain to finish bottom of Group A3, despite having one game to go – hosting Germany at Wembley on Monday.

Here, the PA news agency looks at what relegation could mean to the England national team in the next year or so.

Different levels

Southgate has always lauded the Nations League for replacing uncompetitive friendlies with fixtures against Europe’s elite nations. Since the first edition, England have been drawn in groups alongside Spain, Croatia, Belgium, Denmark and Iceland, before landing Italy, Hungary and Germany in the current competition. The standard of opposition could now potentially drop off significantly, with the likes of Kazakhstan, Georgia and Albania possibilities in England’s group – not ideal preparation between major tournaments.

Out of the title picture

England topped their group back in 2019, fending off Spain and Croatia to reach the finals in Portugal. There, they lost to Holland after extra time in the semi-finals before beating Switzerland on penalties to seal third place. Relegation takes away the prospect of reaching the finals, which is open only to the group winners in League A. The prize on offer for topping League B groups is promotion back to League A, something England will see as a must.

Luck of the draw

Most importantly, seeding for the Euro 2024 qualifiers is established by the overall finishing positions within the Nations League. That means all four group winners go into a Nations League pot, which has one team fewer to allow for the finals to take place at the same time as two rounds of European Championship qualifiers. The next 10 teams form pot one, again based on their performances in the Nations League, with England now unseeded as a result of their relegation. A fine record in recent qualifying campaigns has been based on facing inferior opposition, but being in pot two could see England land the likes of Portugal, France, Belgium or Italy in their attempt to reach the finals in Germany.

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