Malta in the UEFA Nations League 24/25: Is there any hope of promotion?

If there are fans in Europe who are absolutely not spoiled by the victories of their national team, then the Maltese must be among them. Malta is not the worst team on the continent, but it is quite close to such a status. This small country has never sent its representatives to the World Cup or the Euros, and is ranked 172 by FIFA. The Reds finished the last continental selection without scoring a single point – in eight matches they scored twice, but conceded twenty.

But at one time, UEFA naturally decided to feel sorry for those fans whose national teams usually do not achieve great success, and more often to make the teams approximately equal in terms of strength. This is how the UEFA Nations League was born, and there the Maltese no longer look completely frail. So far, they have only spent all seasons in the lowest division D, but promotion does not look unattainable – it is a real goal and a potential source of pride for a very small nation that still managed.

If you are a fan of the Malta national team, or just like to bet on sports, go to Melbet nedir. And in this article, we will try to analyze whether the Maltese will submit to the greatest achievement in their history this time.

Competition format

In the first season of the League of Nations, 18/19, it was division D that was the most numerous – as many as 16 teams got there. Neutral spectators received uncompromisingly top matches of the elite level in a relatively small number, but football “dwarves” found themselves in a situation where much stronger opponents – Georgia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Kosovo, Azerbaijan, North Macedonia – still play with them. It turned out that the weakest nations simply do not have tournament motivation in groups that will definitely not win, and the listed national teams do not see the point of participating in official competitions with opponents who offer almost no resistance.

Therefore, the higher divisions have already expanded since the second season, and D – on the contrary, has decreased so that the spirit of competition can be maintained in it, and the participants saw the meaning of fighting. Winning a group at this level is a purely formal achievement, offering nothing but promotion to League C, but for a team that has not won any tournaments, it is a potential source of short-term national pride.

So, in Division D of the Nationas League of the 24/25 season, there are only 6 participants, divided into two trios. In the group, each opponent must be played at home and away – a total of 4 games, which will take place during the fall of 2024. The winner is automatically promoted, but in order to increase the competitive spirit, even the runners-up are entitled to an extra chance in the form of a play-off against non-relegated opponents. Thus, much will be revealed by November, but not the fact that Malta will end the struggle.

Who are the opponents in the group?

The Maltese have been drawn into Group 2 with opponents, one of which – Moldova – looks the clear favorite, while the other – Andorra – is a possible outsider. We propose to determine the balance of forces according to objective criteria.

Moldova is in the FIFA rating not much higher than the Maltese – it has only 155th position. But the last selection for the Euro showed an unexpectedly bright performance of this national team: it took only the fifth place out of six possible, but scored as many as 10 points, only 5 behind the leader! The Moldovans drew once with the Albanians and the Czechs, who will eventually go to the Euros, but they simply stunned the Poles, who have been strong in recent years – 3:2 at home, 1:1 away. Is it necessary to explain who is the favorite in the confrontation between the Moldovan team and the Maltese? Let’s just add that these rivals have met three times – and the Reds have only two draws without victories.

The situation with Andorra is radically different. In the FIFA rating, it is even higher than Malta – at 164 positions. The most recent selection for the Euro ended for the Pyrenees, as well as for the Maltese, in last place, but the national team of the principality managed to draw twice – away from Kosovo and at home with Belarus. In addition to the mentioned achievements, there were only losses in the last ten matches, but the Andorrans proved that under certain circumstances they can impose a fight even on the opponent who looks stronger on paper.

During the same period of time, the islanders won twice, but in friendly games, and whom – Luxembourg and Gibraltar. At the same time, they have an advantage over Andorra in personal meetings – 4 points have been scored in two matches in 2020.

Playoff or stop fighting?

There is always a chance that Moldova will take the semi-friendly tournament lightly and this is the only opportunity for Malta and Andorra to grab the first place in the group, but you should not hope for it either. In the end, the Moldovans showed in the selection for Euro 2024 that they have certain ambitions, and the exit to the C division would give them, albeit small, chances for the playoffs for a ticket to the big tournament.

Therefore, we reject the first place for Malta – and it remains to find out who will occupy the second place and play a playoff against the team of division C. There is no clear answer to this question. In head-to-head, the Maltese look more promising, but those games were four years ago. On the other hand, the recent results seem a little more convincing for the Pyrenees, but the away match never gives a clear answer about the outcome of the face-to-face fight.

Another question is whether Malta should enter that playoff from second place. From division C, the two teams that took the last positions in the groups will get there – but they will be the best-ranked teams, since the worst duo will be eliminated directly. Who will be the losers is currently unknown, but in the preliminary draw, the third and fourth teams with the best ranking position were Cyprus and Belarus – imagine the potential level of opposition for the Maltese.

However, it is too early to give up without even starting the fight. The fall of 2024 will show whether the Maltese national team is ready to write a new page in its history.