With England relegated from Nations League A in this year’s edition of the tournament, Gareth Southgate’s men were given the biggest dent to morale ahead of the 2022 World Cup.
Aside from the Three Lions, however, there were a number of teams who, despite avoiding relegation, were still unable to qualify for the Nations League semi-finals.
Far from failing to qualify, Didier Deschamps’ France were perhaps lucky to avoid relegation themselves. With just one win from six matches, Les Blues finished in third, just a point ahead of Austria at the bottom of the table. Had Austria managed a draw in their last match against eventual group winners Croatia, then France would have been consigned to relegation instead, just a year after being crowned champions in the competition.
Having lost out on their Nations League crown, Deschamps’ side now turn their attention to the defense of their world title in Qatar 2022. Despite this recent poor run of form, Paddy Power still has France at 11/2 to successfully defend their crown. By betting on sports with Paddy Power, users can wager on individual matches or outright results, either on the World Cup, Nations League or beyond. Despite being one of the bookies’ favorites, France will need to forget their poor Nations League performances if they are to stand a chance in Qatar.
While Portugal have never tasted glory at a World Cup, Fernando Santos’ side were crowned champions of the inaugural Nations League back in 2019, just three years after their first European Championships triumph. However, A Seleçāo missed out on this edition’s knockout stages by a solitary point, finishing second behind last year’s finalists, Spain.
The last match in Group B proved crucial. Portugal and Spain came head-to-head, with a draw enough for Santos’ side to secure qualification to the semi-finals. The Portugal boss’ pragmatic approach didn’t come off, however, as an 88th-minute goal from Spain’s Álvaro Morata ended all hopes of more Nations League glory for A Seleçāo. They will look to bounce back in Qatar in their opening game against Ghana on 24th November.
Belgium’s team of the past decade have experienced many near misses, having been knocked out at the quarter-final stage by Wales at Euro 2016, before being eliminated by eventual winners France in the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup. They were also knocked out by the eventual winners of Euro 2020, Italy, in the quarter-finals, and had to settle for a 4th place finish in last year’s Nations League.
The Red Devils were unable to utilize this year’s edition of the tournament as a chance to finally win silverware, as they finished second in Group 4 behind a rampant Netherlands. Louis van Gaal’s men won five and drew one in their six Nations League group games and are undoubtedly one of the favorites to win the competition. For Belgium, their attention turns to Qatar 2022, which may be the last chance at glory for many of their so-called ‘golden generation’.
While the Nations League may still be young in its inception, the quality of teams that have gone on to win the competition show the competitiveness it possesses. The teams mentioned in this list will undoubtedly be back stronger next campaign, which will come after the all-important FIFA World Cup 2022.