2022/23 UEFA Nations League B Predictions: Consequences of Russia’s Suspension and Invasion of Ukraine

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The 2022/23 UEFA Nations League season kicks off next month, making this an appropriate time to forecast how the tournament will unfold. This is is the third in a series of articles that will predict every group, starting with League D and moving up until League A is completed. More specifically, the teams that will be promoted and relegated. Let’s examine what those Nations League B teams will be. 

2022/23 UEFA Nations League B Predictions

Scotland to Be Promoted, Ukraine Held Back by Absence of Proper “Home” Games

Group B1 contains two teams from the British Isles: Scotland and the Republic of Ireland. It also includes Ukraine, who have been forced to play all their “home” matches at neutral venues until further notice, due to Russia’s invasion. Up to and including the June matches, that neutral venue is Łó in Poland. Armenia rounds off the group. The newly-promoted side will probably go back to the division they came from by the end of this Nations League season. All the other teams have stronger squads and performed better in qualification for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

The promotion spot is up for grabs, with the remaining three teams all having plausible chances of securing it. However, the Republic of Ireland were quite poor in World Cup qualifying.  They have proven to be a cut below Ukraine and Scotland.

Comparing those two is difficult. Ukraine went undefeated in the World Cup qualifiers. Not even France could trump them. However, the Ukrainians drew six out of eight matches, even ones they should be winning, like against Kazakhstan. Meanwhile, Scotland lost against a strong Danish side and drew against Israel and a struggling Austria team. They still obtained more points per match than Ukraine, though.

The fact that Ukraine’s group was tougher than Scotland’s only partially justifies the difference, not entirely. Ukraine is a strong team that may very well go undefeated again. Despite this, their tendency to drop points against teams they should be beating makes it more probable that Scotland will top the group. Also, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that Ukraine has been forced to play all their “home” matches abroad. This makes them less potent on home soil than they would otherwise be.   

Russia’s Suspension Paves the Way for Underdogs to Reach League A

Following the suspension of Russia due to their invasion of Ukraine, Group B2 now only has three teams: Iceland, Israel and Albania. The suspension of Russia relegates them by default, meaning we are only left to predict who will be promoted from this group.

Iceland will likely not be that team, since they performed notably worse than Israel and Albania in World Cup qualifying. Both of which have a solid case to be pronounced group winners.

Albania performed marginally better in the European Qualifiers, but Israel’s Elo rating is fractionally higher. Not to mention they possess two goal machines in Mu’nas Dabbur and Eran Zahavi. This illustrates that Albania and Israel are indistinguishable. For the sake of actually making a prediction and not fence sit, the official verdict of this article is that Israel will be promoted. 

Little to Nothing Separates Finland and Romania

In Group B3, Finland and Bosnia and Herzegovina, who shared World Cup qualification groups, can be found. Alongside those two are Romania and Montenegro, making the group highly competitive. The fight for first place will most likely be contested by Finland and Romania, the latter of whom did actually slightly eclipse the Finns in World Cup qualifying. However, the same is true for Finland when it comes to the previous Nations League season, and their Elo rating is a little higher. Also, the Finns had a somewhat tougher group. In other words, nothing separates Finland and Romania except gut feeling. Once again, for the sake of actually making a prediction and not sitting on the fence, the verdict of this article is that Finland will be promoted. 

One might think it’s odd to disregard a seemingly (on paper) decent Bosnia and Herzegovina as a promotion contender, but they were poor in World Cup qualifying and only won a single match. So poor in fact that even Montenegro obtained more points per match. Nevertheless, Montenegro’s group was a bit easier and Bosnia and Herzegovina enjoy a higher Elo rating and stronger squad. They should be able to finish above Montenegro in League B. 

Strong Serbia in Nations League B

With Sweden, Norway, Serbia and Slovenia, there’s a fair case for this to be regarded as the group of death in League B. Even the weakest team, Slovenia, is a respectable side. Either way, they will most likely be relegated as all the other teams in the group simply are stronger. 

Predicting who will be promoted is a bigger challenge. Sweden are complicated. They won all home matches in World Cup qualifying, even against Spain, but lost all away matches except the one against Kosovo. Even Georgia defeated Sweden at home. Right now it seems Sweden are too inconsistent to win the group.

Norway’s performance in the European Qualifiers was comparable, despite being more consistently good and bad home and away. Serbia was better than both Sweden and Norway and is the only Group B4 team that will be in Qatar this November. The Serbs even defeated Portugal in Lisbon to clinch their spot. Not to mention they have a stronger squad and superior Elo rating. Serbia have to be regarded as favourites to be promoted from this group. 

To read our predictions for other Nations League divisions, click below.

League C

League D

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