Netherlands' defender Virgil van Dijk (L) celebrates scoring the 2-2 with Netherlands' forward Quincy Promes during the UEFA Nations League football match Germany v the Netherlands in Gelsenkirchen on November 19, 2018. / AFP / John MACDOUGALL
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For Aleksander Ceferin, the UEFA Nations League was an overwhelming thumbs up.The competition involves all 55 European national teams, playing in small groups and separated into four tiers using promotion and relegation.The debate over whether winning the Nations League would genuinely end the title drought will ramp up in the coming months but coach Gareth Southgate will view it as another important step for a young team which also reached the World Cup semifinals.However, the Nations League is also a backdoor into the 2020 European Championship.There will still be a typical European Championship qualifying campaign, but 16 teams get a second chance through playoffs.In spring 2020, the 2018 Nations League results will be dusted off as the qualifying criteria for the playoffs, handing places to the four best-placed teams from each Nations League tier who missed out in qualifying.The Nations League gives them meaningful games and, since all three won their League D groups, a shot at qualifying for a European Championship something that's normally all but impossible.
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