UEFA Nations League: can England be relegated, what happens if Gareth Southgate’s side finish bottom of table?

The Three Lions have one eye on the FIFA World Cup finals in Qatar, but their will be consequences if they don’t get positive results from there upcoming matches with Italy and Germany.

The rules and regulations around the UEFA Nations League are be somewhat complicated when it comes to the rewards or penalties for finishing top or bottom of a group.

England currently sit bottom of League A Group 3 ahead of their final two fixtures away to Italy on Friday and at home to Germany on Monday.

After losing both of their matches with current table toppers Hungary, Gareth Southgate’s side must win at least one if not both of their remaining games to avoid coming fourth.

Here is what the Three Lions need in order to climb off of bottom spot in their group and what will happen if they do not:

Will England be relegated if they finish bottom of UEFA Nations League group?

Per UEFA’s official website: “The four group winners in League A advance to the knockout Finals in June 2023. The group winners in the other three leagues will all be promoted for the 2024/25 edition.

“The teams finishing fourth in the groups in Leagues A and B will be relegated. The teams finishing fourth in the League C groups will enter the play-outs in March 2024, with the two teams defeated in those ties moving to League D.”

That means that England would indeed be relegated if they finish bottom of League A Group 3 and would be in the second tier (League B) for the 2024-25 UEFA Nations League which takes place between September 2024 and June 2025.

England have participated in Group A for every edition of the Nations League since its inception in 2018.

How do England avoid relegation and can they still win their UEFA Nations League group?

Here is how the League A Group 3 table looks ahead of the final two rounds of fixtures:

  1. Hungary - 7 points (Played 5, GD +4)
  2. Germany - 6 points (Played 4, GD +3)
  3. Italy - 5 points (Played 4, GD -2)
  4. England - 2 point (Played 4, GD -5)

Here are how the two remaining rounds of fixtures look:

Round Five (Friday, September 23)

  • Germany vs Hungary
  • Italy vs England

Round Six (Monday, September 26)

  • England vs Germany
  • Hungary vs Italy

If England won both of their remaining fixtures they would finish on eight points meaning if either Germany or Hungary wins their Round Five match then Gareth Southgate’s side would be unable to move above them.

The only hope England have to top the group is for Germany and Hungary to draw while they beat Italy, followed by England beating Germany and Italy beating Hungary but, even then, they will require a massive swing in goal difference.

The short answer to if they can top the group is that while it isn’t impossible, it’s out of their hands and highly unlikely.

In terms of avoiding relegation, defeat to Italy would guarantee they finish bottom and be relegated to League B.

A win in Milan would move them on to the same points total as the Italians and a win by two or more goals would move them above their opponents in the table on goal difference.

If they do move above them then it would come down to the final day where they would need to equal or better Italy’s result against Hungary to remain third and avoid relegation.