Ideal and undesirable group for Azerbaijan in League of Nations - ANALYSIS

8 February 2024 13:22
Ideal and undesirable group for Azerbaijan in League of Nations - ANALYSIS

The draw for the 2024/25 season in the Nations League will be held today.

According to, the 12 teams in the same group as the Azerbaijani national team might be their opponents in the competition, which will take place for the fourth time in the squad's history.

Our squad, which will play in the C league for the third consecutive season, will be drawn into the second basket in the Paris draw. There are three potential opponents for our squad, which is searching for a head coach, in the first basket, four in the third, and five in the fourth. This is due to the fact that Azerbaijan cannot fall into the same group as Armenia, which is in the first basket. Lithuania and Gibraltar, which are in danger of being relegated to the D league, will face each other in the playoffs.

11 of the potential opponents met with the Azerbaijani national team in different years. Among the familiar teams, only Gibraltar does not have a name. Based on the results of previous meetings with these opponents, it is possible to determine the ideal and undesirable groups for our team.

15 duels with the strong
1st pot includes stronger teams and it’s not that easy to choose desirable opponent. Like Romania and Sweden, which are in decline, Luxembourg, which has developed a development trajectory in recent years, is not "easy bait". The 3-0 defeat of the Scandinavian representative at the end of the EURO-2024 qualifying round should not be deceptive. It is enough to remember the more painful result at the start of the tournament with an opponent who had no claim at that time - 0:5. Except for the only victory over the Swedes, the opponent has won by dry score in all the matches. The duels with Romania were more unsuccessful. All matches were defeated. 6 points in 7 matches with Luxembourg (conditionally if we take the principle of points in test matches as a basis) looks relatively promising. Considering the results of the previous 15 matches, Romania should be considered an undesirable team, and Luxembourg should be considered a more suitable team.

Romania – 4 games, 4 losses
Sweden – 4 games, 1 win, 3 losses
Luxembourg – 7 games, 1 win, 3 draws, 3 losses

Dangerous middlings
North Macedonia, Northern Ireland and Slovakia, which are in the 3rd pot, can be considered the middle but also unstable teams of Europe. Our national team has had enough duels with all three of these opponents. Although there are few victories, there are more defeats. The ideal option for our team, which has never lost to Cyprus, which is considered the weakest in the basket, is the representative of the island. The most undesirable is Slovakia. It is true that this opponent was defeated in two official matches. But getting 8 defeats is considered a bitter result.
North Macedonia - 8 games, 1 win, 2 draws, 5 losses
Slovakia - 10 games, 2 wins, 8 losses
Northern Ireland - 6 games, 1 win, 2 draws, 3 losses
Cyprus - 3 games, 2 wins, 1 draw

The weakest of the weak
It is not so important to consider the strength of the teams in the 4th pot. Because if our national team intends to set a serious goal and develop, it should be able to get 6 points from any opponent in the basket of the weak. In fact, there is no significant difference between the strength of these teams. Unfortunately, this cannot be said for sure about our team, which is still looking for a head coach. This is why we are forced to look for the weak even among the weak. For our national team, which has never faced Gibraltar, the national teams of Belarus and the Baltic countries are counted according to their level. However, recent meetings with Estonia showed that there is also a danger of stumbling and losing points. It can be thought that compared to the representatives of the Baltic countries, which prefer basketball to football, Belarus, which has traditions but is experiencing a period of decline, is relatively dangerous. The most suitable option is the winner of the duel between Lithuania and Gibraltar. It is true that we do not have an advantage in balance with the Lithuanians in this basket. However, the current situation of the opponent gives reason to think about taking six points from them.

Belarus - 6 games, 3 wins, 2 draws, 1 loss
Lithuania - 3 games, 1 win, 1 draw, 1 loss
Gibraltar - never met
Estonia - 10 games, 2 wins, 5 draws, 3 losses
Latvia – 5 games, 1 win, 3 draws, 1 loss

3 to 15
It is also possible to estimate the number of points to be collected based on the composition of the most suitable and unsuitable groups. In the successful course of events, it is real that our national team even won the group with 15 points. Because it is believable to beat the winner of Cyprus and Lithuania-Gibraltar both, and Luxembourg at least in Baku. Of course, one can wish to get more points than a strong opponent. But in such a group, 15 points seems more realistic.

Being in the same group as Romania, Slovakia and Belarus promises a fight to avoid being the last. It is very difficult to get points from the first two opponents. If it is not possible to take away points from Belarus, the danger of finishing the group with only 3 points is not far away. Of course, unexpected victories over the strong or point losses in matches against obvious underdogs will draw a line across the possibilities. We witnessed this at the qualifying stage of EURO-2024. A point loss against Estonia in Baku and a sensational home win over Sweden were among the results that overturned the odds.

Ideal group: Luxembourg, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Lithuania/Gibraltar
Undesirable group: Romania, Azerbaijan, Slovakia, Belarus

Vugar Kheyrullayev