Three giants of European football were paired together in the 2022/23 Nations League drawn Thursday with continental champions Italy taking on Germany and England.
Italy won the delayed Euro 2020 at Wembley this summer against England but Gareth Southgate’s side have an immediate chance for revenge in Group 3 of the top-flight League A.
Germany, who England eliminated in the last 16 of that tournament, will also be looking to restore pride under new coach Hansi Flick while Hungary would seem favourites for relegation.
The fixtures will also serve as a serious test for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, held November 21-December 18 to avoid the highest temperatures in the Gulf state.
“It is top, ideal, an attractive draw,” said Flick,” who has won evey game with Germany since replacing Joachim Loew after the Euros. “We will measure ourselves with the best. It’s about measuring ourselves.
“The fans are excited. They are classics, we want to perform well.”
Italy boss Roberto Mancini also referred to the clash with old rivals Germany as a “classic of world football.”
Title holders France meet Denmark, Croatia and Austria in A1 while there is an Iberian flavour to A2 with Spain and Portugal joined by Switzerland and the Czech Republic.
“When we come up against sides who are a bit weaker on paper, players are aware of that and it’s difficult to find the ‘adrenalin’, so to speak, to motivate yourself and be highly competitive,” said France coach Didier Deschamps, who is looking for a third title on the national bench having also won the 2018 World Cup.
“When you look at the groups, they’re the best national sides, since League A is made up of the best national teams in Europe.”
World number one Belgium take on neighbours the Netherlands, Poland and Wales in A4.
Group ties are played next June and September with the winners of each four groups in the highest level contesting the finals at a mini-tournament in June 2023.
Full Nations League 2022/23 draw
Group A1: Austria, Croatia, Denmark, France
Group A2: Czech Republic, Switzerland, Portugal, Spain
Group A3: Hungary, England, Germany, Italy
Group A4: Wales, Poland, Netherlands, Belgium
Group B1: Ukraine, Scotland, Republic of Ireland, Armenia
Group B2: Iceland, Russia, Israel, Albania
Group B3: Bosnia & Herzegovina, Finland, Montenegro
Group B4: Sweden, Norway, Serbia, Slovenia
Group C1: Turkey, Luxembourg, Lithuania, Faroe Islands
Group C2: Northern Ireland, Greece, Kosovo, Cyprus/Estonia
Group C3: Slovakia, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan/Moldova
Group C4: Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Georgia, Gibraltar
Group D1: Liechtenstein, Kazakhstan/Moldova, Andorra, Latvia
Group D2: Malta, Cyprus/Estonia, San Marino