Portugal grouped with France in Nations League title defense

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              Juventus' Cristiano Ronaldo warms up prior to a round of sixteen, first leg, soccer match between Lyon and Juventus at the at the Lyon Olympic Stadium in Decines, outside Lyon, France, Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)
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AMSTERDAM (AP) — Portugal will play world champion France at the start of its defense of the Nations League in the second edition of the UEFA tournament.

The group phase will start in September, after Portugal tries to retain its more significant title at the June 12-July 12 European Championship.

Also in Group 3 in the top A-tier of the Nations League is Croatia, which lost to France in the 2018 World Cup final, and Sweden.

In the draw in Amsterdam on Tuesday, Spain and Germany — the previous two world champions before France — were paired in Group A4 alongside Switzerland and Ukraine.

Group A1 features Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

In Group A2, England will face Iceland four years after being humiliated by them at Euro 2016, as well as Belgium and Denmark.

The original format of 12 countries playing in three-team League A groups last year has become 16 teams in traditional groups of four next season.

The remaining 39 European nations are split across further leagues.

The two best Nations League group winners who don’t later automatically qualify for the 2022 World Cup earn a place in the playoffs for Qatar alongside the 10 runners-up from that qualifying campaign.