Women’s Nations League: How things look for the home nations

Women’s Nations League: How things look for the home nations
The Lionesses will be looking to bounce back from defeat by the Netherlands last month

Olympic qualification hangs in the balance for England, who are trying to secure a place at Paris 2024 on behalf of Great Britain, as they take on Belgium twice over the next week.

They will be in action on Friday along with all the other home nations in the next round of fixtures in the inaugural Women’s Nations League.

Scotland and Wales both face daunting trips to the Netherlands and Germany respectively, while Hungary host Northern Ireland.

After mixed results in the first round of fixtures, how are things shaping up for the home nations?

Can Scotland build on a point against Belgium?

England and Scotland face difficult tasks

It has not been the easiest time for Sarina Wiegman’s England since their World Cup final defeat by Spain.

They opened their Nations League campaign in late September with a narrow and unconvincing 2-1 win over neighbours Scotland at the Stadium of Light, before losing by the same scoreline away to the Netherlands, who were beaten by Belgium in their first game.

Wiegman has been chosen to lead Great Britain at the 2024 Olympics, should they qualify. England, who were nominated as the representative for Team GB, need to top the group to stay in contention for a place at next year’s Paris Games.

England face a double-header against Belgium, who are currently top of the group with four points. They will host them at Leicester’s King Power Stadium on 27 October, before a trip to Leuven four days later. Belgium, themselves, were held by Scotland last time out.

Meanwhile, Scotland are bottom of the group with just one point and face a double-header against the Netherlands, starting with a match in Nijmegen.

Wales already in must-win territory

For Wales, it was always going to be an uphill challenge for them to avoid relegation from League A as the fourth seed in their group, and so it has proved.

A 1-0 defeat in their first game away to Iceland was followed by a 5-1 thrashing at home by Denmark. Those results have left them six points adrift of leaders Denmark, and three points off Iceland and Germany.

Things are not likely to get any easier in the next two matches, with an away game against a Germany side still reeling from a group-stage exit at the World Cup over the summer, followed by a trip to Denmark.

Northern Ireland and the Republic vie for promotion

In League B, both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are looking to get promoted.

They find themselves in the same group, with the Republic currently leading the way. They have won two games from two, which includes a 3-0 victory over their neighbours in Dublin last month, while Northern Ireland beat Albania in their first game.

Behind them, Albania and Hungary are both on one point, with the former facing a double-header against the Republic and the latter playing Northern Ireland twice this month.

What happens after the group stage?

Following the conclusion of the group stage, with the final matchday on 5 December, each of the League A group winners will be drawn into semi-final ties.

Those will be played on 21 and 28 February as one-legged ties before the third-place play-off and final.

The two finalists will join hosts France as the European representatives at the 2024 Olympic Games.

If France are among the finalists, the third-placed team fills the remaining slot for the 12-team tournament in Paris.

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