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Nations League: How is the 2020-21 tournament shaping up?

Portugal are the reigning Nations League champions

The 2020-21 Nations League group stage has now passed the halfway point.

But how is the tournament shaping up? Who looks set to reach the finals tournament? Who is on course for promotion and relegation?

If you’ve missed any of the action, here’s how things stand…

How are the home nations doing?

Group A2

Harry Maguire was sent off as England suffered a 1-0 home defeat against Denmark to surrender control of group A2 and drop down to third place.

The Three Lions will need to beat Iceland and world number one ranked side Belgium next month to have any chance of reaching the finals tournament for the second successive time.

That competition, between the four League A group winners, is set to be held in October or November 2021.

Group B2

Scotland continued their excellent recent form and extended their unbeaten run to eight games by beating nearest rivals the Czech Republic 1-0 to move four points clear at the top of group B2.

Steve Clarke’s side travel to Slovakia and Israel next month knowing three points from one of those games will guarantee promotion to League A.

Group B4

Jonny Williams scored a late winner as Wales beat Bulgaria to stay top of group B4 and on course for promotion.

Ryan Giggs’ side play Finland, who trail them by one point, in the final group game next month.

Meanwhile, the Republic of Ireland are battling to avoid relegation to League C as they still wait to pick up their first win in this year’s competition.

Stephen Kenny’s side face Bulgaria in their final group game which is likely to decide who stays up and who goes down.

Group B1

A Stuart Dallas own goal condemned Northern Ireland to defeat against Norway to leave Ian Baraclough’s side three points adrift at the bottom of group B1.

They travel to Austria and host Romania in their remaining two group games in their aim to avoid the drop.

How are Europe’s big hitters doing?

Group A4

It’s all got tight at the top of Group A4, after Spain tasted defeat for the first time in nearly two years as they lost in Ukraine on Tuesday.

Germany could have gone top as a result but could not find a way past Switzerland, the sides playing out an entertaining 3-3 draw.

The match between the two giants in the final round of group fixtures looks likely to decide who qualifies for the finals tournament.

Group A3

Nations League champions Portugal made light work of Sweden in a 3-0 victory to stay top of group A3 ahead of world champions France, who edged a 1-0 victory in Croatia.

Portugal lead the group on goal difference and are the hosts when the two sides meet in the penultimate round of fixtures, so they hold the upper hand in the race to reach the finals again.

Group A1

Robert Lewandowski scored twice and provided the assist for the other as Poland beat Bosnia-Herzegovina to leap to the top of group A1.

The Poles took advantage of a 1-1 draw between Italy and the Netherlands, who face a tough challenge to reach the final four again as their final group game is in Poland.

Just a reminder too that the best two Nations League group winners who do not reach the World Cup or play-offs through regular qualifying – which starts in March 2021 – will go into the 12-team World Cup European play-offs in March 2022 (with three qualifying for the tournament in Qatar).

The final two group games take place on 14-15 and 17-18 November.

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