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England 12-1 to win first Nations League

Southgate's Lions face Croatia and Spain in new competition

England manager Gareth Southgate
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England are quoted at a best-priced 12-1 to win the inaugural Uefa Nations League and secure a guaranteed passage to Euro 2020 after being drawn in Group Four of League A alongside Croatia and Spain.

In total the Nations League offers up to four Euro 2020 qualification berths, adding to the 20 which will be decided during the normal qualification process.

Gareth Southgate's side will play four Nations League group matches – at home and away to Croatia and Spain – between September and November this year with the aim of winning the group and qualifying for the Final Four competition (featuring two semi-finals and a final) which decides who wins the competition.

The Three Lions are 9-4 to win their group, while Spain are 4-6 and Croatia 11-2.

There are three other groups of three teams in League A (making a full complement of 12 teams) and it is only those who can compete for the trophy.

However, there is plenty of incentive for all of the other nations because the winners of League B (comprising of 12 teams), League C (15 teams) and League D (16 teams) will also secure a berth at Euro 2020.

Wales have been drawn alongside Ireland and Denmark in Group Four of League B.

Ryan Giggs's side are 5-2 to win the group, as are Ireland, while Denmark are 11-10.

Northern Ireland – another League B side – are 7-2 to top Group Three which also features Bosnia-Herzegovina and Austria.

As in League A, the four group winners will contest a playoff competition which offers up a the carrot of a single guaranteed berth at Euro 2020.

Scotland are in a weaker section (League C) but must first finish top of Group One having been drawn alongside Israel and Albania.

The Scots are 13-8 to win their group.

The obvious advantage of the Nations League is that it replaces most of the international dates previously allotted to largely meaningless friendlies. And it gives hopes to the 16 lowest-ranked teams in League D, none of whom have ever competed at a major finals.

However, there is a possible downside as the format offers promotion to the winners of the groups in Leagues B, C and C and 'punishes' with relegation the bottom-placed teams among the groups in League's A, B and C.

Smaller nations with a longer-term strategy could see it as an advantage to get relegated to a more winnable League and there may be instances where teams are happy to suffer a tactical defeat to achieve that outcome.

It presents an obvious quandary for bookmakers.

Hills spokesman Joe Crilly said: "We have no concerns at this stage regarding dead rubbers or teams looking to be relegated. But with it being a new tournament it is something we will keep an eye on. If we were to see any unusual betting patterns, it is something we would report straight away."

The obvious advantage of the Nations League is that it replaces most of the international dates previously allotted to largely meaningless friendlies
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