In August 2018 I wrote a short piece here about the newly formed Nations League. I have to add, more than two years on, I still struggle with the competition structure and what it might mean for future qualification.
In the original piece, I wrote the following:
"The good news for the minnows is that they not only get to play one another, and therefore have a golden opportunity to register a rare international win, the winner of this group also qualifies for the 2020 European Championships. This poses an obvious question? Is a country better-off targeting a place in Group D rather than Group C? This logic can apply to Group C/B and Group B/A."
As far as I can tell, UEFA qualifying for World Cup 2022 is based on the current standings in the Nations League. Play-off spots will be available to the two highest finishing teams that fail to finish 1st or 2nd in their qualifying groups. This encourages team to win.
What I don't now get is qualification for Euro 2024.
If the same rules hold as for Euro 2020, are Northern Ireland now better off than the Republic of Ireland? The North were relegated to Group C last night, while the Republic survived in Group B with a 0-0 draw at home to Bulgaria.
It should be noted, neither team will play at Euro 2020, having been in Path B play-offs. Yet Scotland will be there having been seeded in Path C.
My question remains. Is a country better-off targeting a place in Group C rather than Group B? Surely, losing can't be better than winning. Can it?