Nations League: European heavyweights vie for continental glory

The semifinals and final of the inaugural edition of Nations League will be played this week.

Cristiano Ronaldo in Portugal training ahead of the Nations League semifinal against Switzerland.   -  AFP

The semifinals of the inaugural edition of UEFA Nations League will be played on Wednesday and Thursday, with Portugal facing Switzerland in the first semifinal and England playing against Netherlands in the second semifinal. The winners will play the final on Sunday at Estadio Do Dragao.

Nations League has been introduced to the international calendar with a view to replace a large portion of friendlies with more competitive fixtures against similarly-ranked teams. The system also offers an alternative route into the European Championship, beginning with Euro 2020.

Route to the semifinals

The four semifinalists finished top of their respective groups in League A, which is one of a total of four Leagues with the UEFA member associations split according to their respective coefficients.

Netherlands, which failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, topped Group 1, comprising Germany and France. Its opponent in the semifinals topped Group 4, which included Spain and World Cup finalist Croatia. Switzerland and Portugal topped Group 2 and Group 3 and will face off in the first semifinal.

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Unlike the group fixtures, which were two-legged and played on a home-and-away basis, the semifinals will be played over just one leg.

According to the tournament format, the winning teams in League B, C and D will gain promotion, while the bottom teams from Leagues A, B and C will be relegated when the next edition of the Nations League gets underway in 2020-21 after next year's European Championships.

Where to watch

The Nations League semifinals will be broadcast live on Sony, while SonyLiv will stream the matches.

Portugal faces Switzerland on Wednesday, with the match kicking off at 12:15 AM on Thursday.

England's semifinal clash against Netherlands is scheduled to kick off at 12:15 AM on Friday.

The final will kick off at the same time on Monday.