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

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

South American Soccer

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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