Nations League 2020-21: Who needs what in final group games?

Harry Kane, Andy Robertson, Gareth Bale and Steven Davis

Almost as soon as it started, the Nations League group stages are coming to an end.

England can still qualify for next year’s finals, with Wales and Scotland both bidding for promotion to the top flight (and the possibility of a World Cup play-off place).

Northern Ireland are trying to avoid relegation to League C.

Winning your group in the top division sends you to the finals next October, while finishing top of a group in a lower league secures promotion.

The two highest-ranking group winners not to secure a spot for the 2022 World Cup or play-offs through regular qualifying will earn a play-off place.

Finishing bottom of a group in the top two leagues means relegation.

So who needs what from their final two games – and whose fate is already sealed?

Group A2

Group A2 - Belgium (9 pts), Denmark and England (7 pts), Iceland (0 pts)

England: Belgium a (Sun, 15 Nov – 19:45), Iceland h (Wed, 18 Nov – 19:45)

England need Denmark to drop points against Iceland or Belgium to have any chance of qualifying for next year’s finals and winning the Nations League.

The Three Lions drew and lost their two meetings with Denmark, meaning the Scandinavian side have the head-to-head advantage if they are level on points, as they currently are.

However if both England and Denmark beat relegated Iceland and draw against Belgium it would come down to a three-way head-to-head tie (effectively a mini-group excluding Iceland results).

Gareth Southgate’s side will be out of contention if they lose in Belgium on Sunday. They cannot be relegated.

Group B1

Group B1 - Austria and Norway (9 pts), Romania (4 pts), Northern Ireland (1 pt)

Northern Ireland: Austria a (Sun, 15 Nov – 19:45), Romania h (Wed, 18 Nov – 19:45)

Northern Ireland will avoid relegation if they can beat both Austria and Romania.

They can afford to lose to or draw with Austria – so long as Romania do not better that result against Norway at the same time.

Ian Baraclough’s side will need to beat Romania in that final game, unless they beat Austria and Romania lose to Norway. In that case a 0-0 draw would be enough (but a score draw might not…)

They cannot be promoted.

Group B2

Group B2 - Scotland (10 pts), Czech Republic (6 pts), Israel (5 pts), Slovakia (1 pt)

Scotland: Slovakia a (Sun, 15 Nov – 14:00), Israel a (Wed, 18 Nov – 19:45)

Scotland just need to win one of their final two games – or draw both – to be assured of promotion to the top flight, and boost their chances of a World Cup play-off.

With the League A winners likely to qualify for the World Cup anyway, the play-off places may well come down to the best League B winners.

Two draws will be enough for Scotland because they have the head-to-head edge with the Czech Republic.

They cannot be relegated.

Group B4

Group B4 - Wales (10 pts), Finland (9 pts), Republic of Ireland (2 pts), Bulgaria (1 pt)

Wales: Republic of Ireland a (Sun, 15 Nov – 17:00), Finland h (Wed, 18 Nov – 19:45)

Wales will be promoted to League A – with a possible World Cup play-off spot – if they win their final two games, although they have much less room for error than Scotland.

Their final game against Finland is likely to be winner takes all. Wales can afford to draw that if they beat the Republic of Ireland on Sunday.

They cannot be relegated.

The Republic’s home game against Bulgaria on Wednesday is likely to decide relegation, unless both results go their way on Sunday.

What has already been decided?

Qualified for next year’s finals: France (A3)

Relegated: Iceland (A2)

What are some other things up for grabs?

In Group A1, Poland, Italy and the Netherlands are battling it out for a place in the finals – only separated by two points. But the latter two are not safe from relegation yet.

The winners of that group will host next year’s finals.

The winner of Spain v Germany in Group A4 on Tuesday will go to the finals. A draw would be enough for Germany.

The Faroe Islands and Gibraltar only need one point each to move up to the third tier.

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