sport news Nations League: State of play as England and France look to avoid RELEGATION trends now

sport news Nations League: State of play as England and France look to avoid RELEGATION trends now
sport news Nations League: State of play as England and France look to avoid RELEGATION trends now

sport news Nations League: State of play as England and France look to avoid RELEGATION trends now

The Nations League might not carry the same importance as the World Cup or European Championships, but it is still a massive week ahead for England.

Gareth Southgate's side sit bottom of their group and are in real danger of relegation with games against European giants Italy and Germany coming up.

Finishing bottom would not only see the Three Lions drop down a tier the next time the competition comes around, but would also have a knock-on effect for the European Championships. 

There are big questions to be answered across the rest of Europe as well, with France also facing relegation, Scotland challenging for promotion, and the final four spots in next summer's mini-tournament to decide the winners of the Nations League still to be decided.

Sportsmail takes a look at the state of play heading into the final games of the Nations League group stage.  

Gareth Southgate's England side sit bottom of their Nations League group and face relegation

Gareth Southgate's England side sit bottom of their Nations League group and face relegation

England have big tests ahead with matches against Italy and Germany which also prove to be their final matches before the squad gets back together for the World Cup in November

England have big tests ahead with matches against Italy and Germany which also prove to be their final matches before the squad gets back together for the World Cup in November

England and France face relegation 

Before the inception of the Nations League, national teams never had to worry themselves about the embarrassment of relegations like in club football.

But just four years after France lifted the World Cup, and just over 12 months since England lost in the Euro 2020 final to Italy, both of the European giants are facing exactly that terrifying prospect. 

Gareth Southgate's side endured a miserable summer in which they were held to draws against both Italy and Germany and were beaten twice by Hungary - including a humiliating 4-0 defeat at Wembley.

This has left them three points short of third-placed Italy, in a group topped by the Hungarians on seven points.

Defeat to their Euro 2020 conquerors Italy at the San Siro on Friday would seal their relegation to the second tier of the Nations League for the next time the competition comes around.

NATIONS LEAGUE STANDINGS 

 Group A1

1. Denmark - 9 points (+3 GD)

2. Croatia - 7 points (-1)

3. Austria - 4 points (0) 

4. France - 2 points (-2)

 Group A2

1. Spain - 8 points (+3)

2. Portugal - 7 points (+5)

3. Czech Republic - 4 points (-3)

4. Switzerland - 3 points (-5) 

 Group A3

1. Hungary - 7 points (+4 GD)

2. Germany - 6 points (+3)

3. Italy - 5 points (-2)

4. England - 2 points (-5)

Group A4 

1. Netherlands - 10 points (+5 GD)

2. Belgium - 7 points (+3) 

3. Poland - 4 points (-5)

4. Wales - 1 point (-3) 

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A draw would give them a small glimmer of hope, but only just that, due to England's inferior goal difference (-5) to Italy (-2) ahead of their final games with Germany and Hungary respectively.

Victory would put them level on points with the Italians, who didn't make this winter's World Cup, though their opponents arguably have an easier final game in the form of group leaders Hungary. 

Like England, 2018 World Cup winners France failed to get a winner in the summer's four opening games to the Nations League.

France suffered a 2-1 defeat to Denmark, could only get one point out of their two games with Croatia and were held by Austria.

Didier Deschamps' will hope his side can avoid relegation with positive results against Austria at home and Denmark away. 

England failed to win any of their four Nations League games in the summer which was rounded off by a 4-0 thumping at the hands of Hungary at Wembley

England failed to win any of their four Nations League games in the summer which was rounded off by a 4-0 thumping at the hands of Hungary at Wembley

France, like England, failed to win any of their four Nations League group games in the summer

France, like England, failed to win any of their four Nations League group games in the summer

What relegation would mean?  

Relegation would not only have a knock-on effect for the next time the Nations League is contested, but also for the qualifiers for the 2024 European Championships.

Instead of facing Europe's elite, those relegated could face the likes of Greece, Turkey, Kazakhstan and Georgia - all of whom are on the verge of promotion from the third tier of the Nations League.

It would also have a detrimental impact on their chances of qualifying for Euro 2024.

England could be drawn against the likes of Italy (pictured), Spain, Germany and Portugal in their Euro 2024 qualifying group with relegation from the Nations League

England could be drawn against the likes of Italy (pictured), Spain, Germany and Portugal in their Euro 2024 qualifying group with relegation from the Nations League

The qualifying group stage draw will be held on October 9 in Frankfurt, and teams will be seeded based on their ranking in the 2022-23 UEFA Nations League.

With 16 teams in League A - the top tier of the Nations League - ten teams will make up the top seeding which should mean avoiding one of Europe's biggest giants.

France and England though currently sit 14th and 15th respectively in the overall rankings, meaning they could be drawn against the likes of Spain, Portugal, Germany, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands in their qualifying group.

Though two teams will qualify from each group in the qualifiers for Euro 2024, if England were to be relegated from the Nations League and draw a European giant, it would mean the Three Lions have less room to slip up against tricky lower seeded teams. 

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