What is the UEFA Nations League and how can England progress from their group?

We've entered the final week of the UEFA Nations League group stage - and still England have everything to play for.

For many, the inaugural competition's rules have been tricky to grasp since its debut round of fixtures in October. 

Gareth Southgate

Gareth Southgate

However, what we do know is qualification to the semi-finals or relegation is still a possibility for the Three Lions ahead of Sunday's finale against Croatia at Wembley. 

Still confused as to how either outcome can happen? Well - we've got you covered with our handy explainer below.  

Come on, England! 

Recap - what is the UEFA Nations League?

The format sees 55 European national teams divided into four pots - A, B, C and D with each pot running four leagues of three teams, which were decided by UEFA's national association coefficient rankings on 11 October 2017. Each country will play each other home and away. 

Teams from the A leagues - including England - compete for top spot and a place in the UEFA Nations League semi-final. Teams who finish bottom of their group will be relegated to League B for the 2020 edition while finishing 2nd keeps those teams in the same league. 

Countries who are not in League A are unable to qualify for the semi-final stage with League B and League C fighting sorely for promotion and relegation. As League D is the bottom tier, relegation is not possible. 

The current Group A4 table stands as followed: 

1. Spain - Played: 3. Points: 6. Goal difference: +6

2. England - Played: 3. Points: 4. Goal difference: 0 

3. Croatia. Played 2: Points: 1. Goal difference -6

How can England qualify for the UEFA Nations semi-final stage?

In order to give England any hope of qualifying for the UEFA Nations League semi-finals, Spain must either draw or lose to Croatia on Thursday, November 15. If La Roja win, neither England or Croatia can advance to the next round.

But should Croatia provide the Three Lions with a favour ahead of the final A4 group game between the pair on Sunday, November 18, a victory for Gareth Southgate's side would see them into the semi-final stage.

If Spain draw against Croatia and England win, both teams would be tied on 7 points - however the Three Lions would top the group on head-to-head record. Of course, a Spain defeat and three points for Southgate and co puts them through on points. 

However, all of this is irrelevant if Croatia beat Spain and England in their final two group games. 

Can England be relegated? 

Indeed they can - if Croatia secure the maximum six points on offer. 

A win against Spain and a draw against England at Wembley would put the two on 5 points but again it is decided by head-to-head record. 

According to 11v11.com, England narrowly hold the better record with four wins, two draws and three defeats. 

Things could get slightly complicated if Croatia lose to Spain but beat England as the two countries would then be tied on 4 points with an identical head-to-head record. 

It is thought it would then be decided on goal difference, meaning Croatia would be required to turnover a six-goal swing in order to relegate the Three Lions and save themselves. 

What happens next? Who could England face in the next round? 

No other country from group A1, A2 and A3 are yet to secure their place in the semi-final stage. 

If England top the group, they could face France, Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Portugal or Italy.

The three definite teams will be confirmed once each country has contested their final group match. 

Results for Germany, Poland and Iceland in their opening three games means they are unable to qualify. 

Just like the World Cup, a win or a defeat in the semi-final decides whether it is to be a place in the final or a third place playoff in June 2019. 

If the Three Lions are to suffer relegation, they will drop into League B when competition begins again in 2020.