Malta’s name has been drawn in the same group as Azerbaijan, Faroe Islands and Kosovo in the UEFA Nations League, a new European competition set to debut later this year.
The international competition will pit Europe’s 55 nations against each other based on their ranking. These rankings have divided the nations into four separate mini-leagues, with four groups each.
In the top tier League A, England’s group features Spain and Croatia. Italy, on the other hand, will be facing Poland and Portugal. Malta is in League D’s Group Three.
The UEFA Nations League, which also features promotion and relegation, will be replacing the majority of international friendlies. It is designed to allow some teams that don’t quality for Euro 2020 a path to the play-offs beyond the normal route.
The new competition, however, has not been without its controversies. People have dubbed the league “abstract and absurd“, going on to say that it is “not so much a sporting competition as a wacky adventure, an attempt to wheeze some life into a moribund product.”
Malta is currently ranked 47th out of the 55 European nations. Fellow Group 3 members Kosovo and Faroe Islands rank 55th and 51st respectively. Azerbaijan, on the other hand, might hold the biggest threat in the group, and are currently at a much better 23rd on the list.
The first tournament is due to commence in September 2018, after the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The winner will be decided in June 2019.
Here are the full results of today’s draw:
Group One: Germany, France, Netherlands
Group Two: Belgium, Switzerland, Iceland
Group Three: Portugal, Italy, Poland
Group Four: Spain, England, Croatia
Group One: Slovakia, Czech Republic, Ukraine
Group Two: Russia, Sweden, Turkey
Group Three: Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Northern Ireland
Group Four: Wales, Ireland, Denmark
Group One: Scotland, Albania, Israel
Group Two: Hungary, Greece, Finland, Estonia
Group Three: Slovenia, Norway, Bulgaria, Cyprus
Group Four: Romania, Serbia, Montenegro, Lithuania
Group One: Georgia, Latvia, Kazakhstan, Andorra
Group Two: Belarus, Luxembourg, Moldova, San Marino
Group Three: Azerbaijan, Faroe Islands, Malta, Kosovo
Group Four: Macedonia, Armenia, Liechtenstein, Gibraltar