Thursday Kickoff: UEFA adopt Nations League; Chelsea advance interest in Costa; and more

AndresIniestaSpain1-MontolivoItaly2014 (Getty)

By DAN KARELL

UEFA confirmed on Thursday the creation of the UEFA Nations League.

The once-rumored tournament was adopted by all 54 UEFA nations at the UEFA congress in Kazakhstan this week and will begin in 2018. The tournament will split the UEFA nations into four groups based on UEFA coefficient, with promotion and relegation between the groups.

The competition’s format has not yet been finalized but matches are expected to take the place of friendly matches, which will affect how national teams in North America, South America, Africa, and Asia schedule opponents.

For 2018, national teams will play four-to-six UEFA Nations tournament matches from September-October, and in 2019 then the winners of each group in the four pools of teams will be fighting to be UEFA Nations champion, fighting for promotion or to avoid relegation, or going through Euro 2020 playoffs.

Here are some more stories to kick off your Thursday:

CHELSEA BEGIN DISCUSSIONS TO SIGN COSTA

Chelsea’s long-rumored interest in Atletico Madrid forward Diego Costa seems to have moved on to the next level.

According to multiple reports in England, Chelsea representatives have begun discussions with Costa’s representatives over a move to Stamford Bridge this summer. The transfer fee payed by Chelsea is expected to eclipse £30 million.

Chelsea are reportedly hoping to complete a deal before the start of the 2014 World Cup, where Costa will represent Spain and could even start for La Roja.

The 25-year-old center forward has been a revelation in La Liga this season, scoring 24 league goals and 32 goals in all competitions for La Liga leading Atletico Madrid.

TREZEGUET LEADS NEWELL’S TO VICTORY

Former France National Team star David Trezeguet played the hero for Newell’s Old Boys.

The dual Argentine-French citizen came on in the 66th minute for 16-year-old Ezequiel Ponce and scored two goals to give Newell’s Old Boys a 4-2 victory at Nacional of Uruguay. Trezeguet tapped home his first in the 75th minute and then fired home his second after turning around a Nacional defender in stoppage time.

The goals were Trezeguet’s first ever in the Copa Libertadores. Nacional finished the match with nine men after two straight red cards were shown to midfielder Rafael Garcia in the 72nd minute and goalkeeper Jorge Bava in the 81st minute.

Elsewhere in Copa Libertadores action, Club Leon suffered a surprising 1-0 defeat to Bolivar, which clinched the Bolivian’s side a place in the knockout stages of the competition. Argentine club Arsenal de Sarandi defeated Venezuelan side Deportivo Anzoategui on the road, 3-1, Colombia’s Deportivo Cali drew 1-1 with O’Higgins of Chile, and Argentina’s Velez Sarsfield topped Atletico Paranaense of Brazil on the road, 3-1.

QUICK KICKS

Estadio Nacional in Brasilia is reportedly on standby for the World Cup in case other venues aren’t ready in time for the tournament. (REPORT)

Brazilian midfielder Roberto Firmino has signed a contract extension with Hoffenheim, turning down offers from abroad. (REPORT)

UEFA adopted a resolution today to attempt to stamp out match-fixing in Europe. (REPORT)

Juventus won their 15th consecutive home game on Wednesday with a 2-1 victory against Parma. (REPORT)

Barcelona have officially announced the signing of 17-year-old Croatian talent Alen Halilovic on a five-year contract. (REPORT)

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What do you think of these developments? What do you think of the Nations League idea? Do you see Costa moving to Chelsea? Think that he’d be successful in the Premier League?

Share your thoughts below.

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21 Responses to Thursday Kickoff: UEFA adopt Nations League; Chelsea advance interest in Costa; and more

  1. beto says:

    Interesting UEFA plan. I like the idea of changing up the Euro qualifiers (too similiar to the Uefa WC qualifiers) but not a fan of adding more uefa only dates to their calendars. They need to mix it up with the rest of the world at some point each cycle.

    • gmonsoon43 says:

      This move will give UEFA teams an unfair advantage in WC seeding, unless FIFA rankings only count this new tournament as friendlies. If the matches are counted as competitive they will get a multiplier value. This means that the European would get inflated results points when the other federations are playing friendlies.

      • JCC says:

        It might, but then the obvious response to this would be for other federations to start a similar program if they feel that UEFA will get an unfair boost in the rankings.

        • Joamiq says:

          UEFA would still win though – their teams will get extra points for always just playing other UEFA teams. Even if FIFA doesn’t count it as a competitive tournament, matches against UEFA teams have a higher multiplier than matches against teams from anywhere else except CONMEBOL.

          UEFA is totally gaming the system and insulating themselves here, while making it harder for the rest of the world to catch up.

  2. patrick says:

    That sounds like the most confusing format, and timeline ever. Bye bye european friendlies in the US

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      You’re just not considering it while standing on your left foot on an alternating Tuesday.

    • Ian says:

      No need to bid those friendlies farewell. There’s just too much money to be made stateside.

  3. slowleftarm says:

    The league of nations sounds more interesting than the European Championships. Not sure we need both though.

    • SwanseaPS says:

      So is this a soccer tournament or a DC comics movie title?

      • slowleftarm says:

        I meant the actual tournament seems more interesting, not the name. Although league of nations is also a better name in my opinion.

  4. Reid says:

    I love a good money grab, UEFA and NFL both coming out hours from each other changing to make more money and I think after the initial excitement wears off both are going to start suffering from over saturation.
    p.s. I’m also partially speaking out of my a$s, I try never to watch NFL, so I’m only assuming

    • Ian says:

      Yeah, I actually have no idea what you’re talking about because I never watch the NFL. Could you elaborate?… or don’t. I don’t really care.

  5. A.S. says:

    The last League of Nations was a confusing mess and dismal failure. Looks to me like this one will be too.

    As a Chelsea fan, can’t wait to see Costa in a blue kit. Chelsea with an effective striker? Look out.

  6. THomas says:

    So UEFA was able to figure this out in the matter of a few years. What’s taking so long for CONMEBOL & CONCACAF to figure out a joint tournament?

    • Chuck says:

      the only team CONMEBOL needs to make profit is Mexico and they already invite them to every Copa America

    • chuck says:

      They head honchos at CONMEBOL are ridiculously old men with ridiculously old ideas. They reluctantly invite Mexico because it saves them from bankruptcy, never treating them as equals; kinda like the richer kid who gets invited to the pic up game cause he has a better ball.

      However they are utterly closed to the idea of integrating the confederations because they know eventually the positions of power would shift to the people with the cash, namely Mexico/USA.

      They are afraid of the US being the ideal neutral venue for all tournaments. If the America’s integrate, say, in a single confederation eventually the Copa America and Libertadores would end up having at least their final four played in LA, NY or Miami.

      I’m not saying it’s bad. I’d love it since the competition would be a great enhancement for the area (look at the SA teams’ progress since they shifted their WC qualifiers to league format). But very unlikely to happen.

      Oh and ditch the Caribbean. They should have a “charity” WC spot to play-off with Oceania, given both areas are mostly amateur.

      • THomas says:

        Good points. But I don’t think Brazil and Argentina would be scared off by the money we can offer. They already play most of their friendlies in other countries for the exact thing that a combined tournament would provide, lots and lots of cash.

  7. Increase0 says:

    2 red cards and they won. I checked the box score. Goal 3 was after the first red. Goal 4 was after the second red. How do you let 9 guys beat you when you have a home game. I say this as I understand that like 80% of teams win their home games in the Copa Lib.

  8. Philadelphia Collins says:

    Trezegol.. What a legend!

  9. Gelo27 says:

    I wonder if USSF could get UEFA to invite USA to participate the tourney? CONMEBOL regularly invites other nations to their Copa América competition. It would be good for the US play regular games against UEFA countries, even if we start out in the 2nd or 3rd division. Regular play outside CONCACAF will only strengthen US soccer. Mexico is regularly invited to play in the Copa América competition (not that has done them much good of late).
    Hell, add Canada and it will even out the 4 groups to an even 14. Just a thought.