For the German national team, the new Nations League should be both a test of strength and an opportunity to experiment. "This is a new competition which we’ll approach with full commitment and big ambition," said Germany’s director of sport Oliver Bierhoff ahead of the draw (Tuesday, 24th January, 12 noon CET) in Lausanne, adding that they "will certainly be able to make use of the odd game to bring through new, young players and give them some competitive action against other big nations."
Joachim Löw will be representing the DFB in Switzerland, along with Oliver Bierhoff, president Reinhard Grindel and general secretary Dr. Friedrich Curtius. "At the moment, the World Cup in Russia is my priority," said the manager: "We always want to test our abilities against the top teams, so I wouldn’t be against drawing strong opponents in the Nations League draw."
Grindel has demanded Germany "play a good role" in the competition: "Every country will obviously want to avoid being relegated from the League," said the DFB president. "The fundamental difference from friendlies," he emphasised, "is that this is competitive."
The Nations League will consist of four leagues (A to D), each divided into four groups. In League A – Germany’s league – there will be four groups of three. After the double matchdays in September, October and November, the winners of each group will enter a tournament held in June 2019, which will determine the overall winner. Germany have been seeded in pot 1.
For the smaller nations, the incentive is much greater, because four of the 24 places at the 2020 European Championship can be attained through the Nations League. The 16 group winners from all four leagues will enter the European Championship playoffs in March 2020. Should the group winners have already qualified for the Championship via the normal qualification groups, the corresponding second placed teams will enter the playoffs. Every league, including League D with the smallest of European nations, will see a team qualify for the EUROs.
"Lots of smaller nations, unlike us, have problems finding opponents for friendly matches on a regular basis," said Grindel. "For these nations, the Nations League is a sort of UEFA-organised fixture list. As a big association, we need to contribute to the tournament and set an example of solidarity. The Nations League is very important for these smaller nations."