UEFA has announced changes to the Nations League and confirmed the name of a new European club competition - the Europa Conference League.

From the 2020-21 season, the new Nations League structure will see 16 teams in Leagues A, B and C and seven teams in League D.

Those Leagues will be decided by countries' overall ranking after the 2018-19 competition, which was won by Portugal, with the draw taking place in Amsterdam on March 3, 2020.

The format for the Nations League Finals, which sees the four group winners from League A meet in a knockout competition, will remain the same.

Meanwhile, the Europa Conference League will start in 2021, with matches played on Thursdays with kick-off times at 18:45 CET and 21:00 CET.

The new early kick-off time is also set to be in place for some Champions League matches on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 2021, replacing the current 18:55 CET kick-off.

Lionel Messi put Cristiano Ronaldo second in the Best FIFA Men's Player award voting, but the Portugal star did not return the favour to the eventual winner.

Messi claimed the prize, rebranded in 2016, for the first time on Monday, beating Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk and Ronaldo.

But the votes made for interesting reading, with Ronaldo and Portugal coach Fernando Santos snubbing Messi.

Ronaldo voted for Matthijs de Ligt, Frenkie de Jong and Kylian Mbappe, with Santos handing his to the former two and his star international captain.

Messi, though, put Ronaldo second in his voting, in between Liverpool star Sadio Mane and De Jong.

Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni decided on Messi, Mbappe and Mane in that order.

As for Van Dijk, he put Messi first ahead of his team-mates Mohamed Salah and Mane, who helped Liverpool win the Champions League last season.

 

Who voted for who?

Lionel Messi: Sadio Mane, Cristiano Ronaldo, Frenkie de Jong.
Virgil van Dijk: Lionel Messi, Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane.
Cristiano Ronaldo: Matthijs de Ligt, Frenkie de Jong, Kylian Mbappe.
Fernando Santos: Cristiano Ronaldo, Frenkie de Jong, Matthijs de Ligt.
Lionel Scaloni: Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe, Sadio Mane.

Lionel Messi saw off competition from Cristiano Ronaldo and Virgil van Dijk to win The Best FIFA Men's Player award for 2019.

It is the first time Messi has won FIFA's flagship individual award since it split from the Ballon d'Or and rebranded in 2016.

The Barcelona and Argentina superstar came second behind Ronaldo in 2016 and 2017, before missing out on the top three altogether last time around.

A five-time winner of the Ballon d'Or, Messi now has six FIFA awards to his name overall and was honoured for guiding Barcelona to the LaLiga title in 2018-19 – scoring 36 times in 34 outings.

He suffered semi-final heartache in the Champions League at the hands of Liverpool, who went on to win the European title.

That success contributed towards Van Dijk being named UEFA's Men's Player of the Year last month, but Messi prevailed on this occasion and all eyes will now be on where the Ballon d'Or lands.

In his acceptance speech at Monday's ceremony in Milan, Messi said: "I want to thank you. For me, the individual prizes are secondary, the important thing is the collective.

"But I have my wife and two of my children sitting there.

"They don't know whether to greet or ask for photos from such extraordinary soccer players. Thank you all very much."

He was unable to add the Puskas Award to his haul, though, with Daniel Zsori's spectacular overhead kick for Debrecen against Ferencvaros voted the best goal of last season – ahead of Messi's wonderful chip for Barca versus Real Betis in LaLiga.

Messi's only Barcelona team-mate to join him in the FIFA FIFPro Men's World11 was Frenkie de Jong, who earned the distinction on the back of his performances for Ajax last term.

Ronaldo and Kylian Mbappe joined Messi in the front three and Liverpool were represented by Van Dijk and Alisson, while their manager Jurgen Klopp was named Best Men's Coach.

Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Virgil van Dijk are the three finalists for The Best FIFA Men's Player award.

FIFA announced a 10-man shortlist for the gong in July and, following the initial voting period, the final three have been revealed.

Frenkie de Jong, Matthijs de Ligt, Harry Kane, Eden Hazard, Sadio Mane, Kylian Mbappe and Mohamed Salah were the seven players cut from the initial list.

Liverpool defender Van Dijk is the favourite of many after playing a vital role in the Reds' Champions League triumph and their Premier League title challenge – finishing just a point behind Manchester City.

He was recognised for his exploits just last week, when he was named UEFA's Player of the Year, beating Messi and Ronaldo to the prize.

The Netherlands international also helped his country to the final of the Nations League, only for a Ronaldo-inspired Portugal to lift the inaugural title.

Ronaldo also enjoyed success at club level, helping Juventus cruise to an eighth successive Scudetto, finishing as their top scorer across all competitions with 28 goals.

Messi's numbers dwarfed Ronaldo's, though, as the Barcelona star scored 51 goals in total, including 36 from 29 starts in LaLiga, with Barca retaining their title.

Those goal-scoring exploits won Messi the European Golden Shoe and, on top of being LaLiga's most prolific player, he also set up 13 goals, a haul only matched by Pablo Sarabia.

Messi's Barca team-mate Marc-Andre ter Stegen is among the three finalists for the goalkeeper award, with City's Ederson and Alisson of Liverpool also in the hunt.

And there is a distinct Premier League feel to the final three of the coaches' award, with Jurgen Klopp, Pep Guardiola and Mauricio Pochettino all in the running.

The winners will be announced on September 23.

UEFA has denied reports it would entertain inviting Argentina into its European competitions following the 2019 Copa America.

Argentina finished third at the Copa but captain and star man Lionel Messi voiced complaints following the semi-final and the third-place play-off, during which he was controversially sent off.

Messi described the officiating during the loss to Brazil as "bull****" and suggested his side were victims of "corruption" after beating Chile, which led to a strong rebuttal from CONMEBOL who described his comments as "unacceptable" and "unfounded".

It was subsequently reported UEFA could invite Argentina to enter its Nations League.

However, European football's governing body has denied this is the case, insisting such an offer would never be forthcoming.

A statement read: "There is no truth whatsoever in the suggestion that Argentina has been asked to participate in UEFA competitions, nor to become a member of UEFA.

"UEFA has never entered into any discussions on this matter and would never do so.

"However, in the spirit of friendship and camaraderie and as an inclusive organisation, UEFA will, of course, invite Argentina as special guests to watch any UEFA competition at any time."

Raheem Sterling blamed "silly mistakes" for England's defeat to Netherlands in the semi-finals of the Nations League.

England were beaten 3-1 in Guimaraes despite having taken a first-half lead thanks to Marcus Rashford's penalty.

Matthijs de Ligt headed the equaliser for Ronald Koeman's side, who capitalised on England's lapses in concentration in extra time.

John Stones' error led to a Quincy Promes shot deflecting in off Kyle Walker, then Ross Barkley's mistake allowed the Netherlands substitute to secure a final berth against Portugal.

Sterling captained England on his 50th international appearance but the Manchester City forward accepted his side cost themselves a chance of reaching Sunday's showpiece.

"I thought we soaked up pressure well, towards the end of the second half we were the better team, but made silly mistakes and we got punished for it," Sterling said to Sky Sports.

"They got their pressing right on the night and we made two mistakes, we tried at times but it didn't work."

England have lost international semi-finals in successive years after falling at the same stage in Russia at the 2018 World Cup.

But Sterling feels the Three Lions can still take positives from their efforts despite another defeat in the last four.

"We still made progress to get to this stage," Sterling added. "It's about kicking on and trying to do the last bit."

Raheem Sterling will captain England on his 50th international appearance after Harry Kane was named on the bench for the Nations League Finals last-four clash against Netherlands.

Manchester City forward Sterling will enjoy the honour at Estadio D. Afonso Henrique, where the pitch passed an inspection following torrential afternoon rain in Guimaraes.

Virgil van Dijk starts at centre-back for Ronald Koeman's side, with Gareth Southgate taking a more cautious approach with the Champions League finalists in his squad.

Fellow Liverpool player Georginio Wijnaldum is included in the Netherlands' starting line-up, just five days after playing an hour of the 2-0 win over Tottenham.

Dele Alli, Jordan Henderson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Eric Dier, Joe Gomez and Danny Rose all join Kane on the England bench.

Sterling, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford ensure the front three charged with breaking down Van Dijk and Matthijs de Ligt possesses plenty of pace, while England's midfield trio of Declan Rice, Fabian Delph and Ross Barkley must deal with Barcelona-bound star Frenkie de Jong.

The winners will face Portugal in Sunday's final at Porto's Estadio do Dragao, with the losers back in Guimaraes to take on Switzerland in the third-place match.

Raheem Sterling still has plenty of improvement to come, according to Fabian Delph – and his Manchester City and England team-mate will not be shy in letting him know about it.

Sterling was a standout performer as Pep Guardiola's side won an unprecedented domestic treble this season, scooping the Football Writers' Association (FWA) Footballer of the Year award.

A brace in the 6-0 FA Cup demolition of Watford took the 24-year-old to 25 goals in all competitions for his club in 2018-19, a campaign where he also emphatically turned a corner at international level.

Despite his best efforts, Sterling's England goal drought remained stubbornly intact throughout the run to the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup.

He has since scored six times in five starts for the Three Lions, including a Wembley hat-trick in a 5-0 Euro 2020 qualification thrashing of the Czech Republic.

As doubts over Harry Kane's match fitness persist, Sterling indisputably approaches what will be his 50th England cap in Thursday's Nations League Finals encounter against Netherlands in Guimaraes as Gareth Southgate's most important and potent attacking threat.

"When we both signed he was 19 and he looked like a little baby," said Delph, who joined City from Aston Villa during the same 2015 close-season when Sterling secured his exit from Liverpool.

"People always questioned what type of player he'd be and whether he'd go to the next level, but I was like, 'This kid has everything. Once he finds his path and what works for him you're going to see something incredible'.

"I think the sky's the limit. Right now, he's one of the best players in the world. And while I'm still with him, or while I'm still in contact with him, I'm going to be pushing him daily because I know he's got another 20 per cent in him."

It was also a season where Sterling's articulate and impressive response to suffering racist abuse placed him at the forefront of football's fight to tackle a sickening stain on the game.

Superb performances continued unchecked and Delph identifies a level of mental strength virtually unparalleled in his experience.

"He's got the strongest mindset I've ever come across in football," the 29-year-old midfielder said. "Vincent Kompany is another one, he is very strong mentally.

"Nothing fazes Raheem, he is very confident in himself. He's a great person and very dedicated to his craft. I've watched him mature a lot over the years, he's still the same guy who I met when he was 19.

"The only difference is people are paying attention to what type of person he is and trying to know Raheem a little more. Everyone can see how kind and humble and what a good player he is."

Delph is unable to match Sterling's tale of personal success at City this season, having found first-team opportunities scarce since the turn of the year.

Southgate made him captain for England's friendly against the United States last November and he retains his place in the squad as an influential dressing-room presence – something a lack of game time at club level has not tempered.

"I can be very emotional, so when it's the build-up to a game, I enjoy that side of trying to help push the team and get them fired up," Delph, whose behind-the-scenes rants made him a star of City's 'All or Nothing' Amazon documentary last year, explained.

"I've always been the same at City. To be fair, I was a nightmare when I was 18, 19 – an absolute nightmare. Six stone wet through and screaming at big ugly centre-halves."

He added: "The second half of the season I never played. But every time it's a home game and I'm there, I'm ranting and raving and speaking to people one-to-one, effing and jeffing, getting the team going. It's the way I've always been and will probably never change."

Luka Modric has been crowned the winner of the Ballon d'Or, capping a wonderful 2018 for the Real Madrid and Croatia midfielder.

The Ballon d'Or has been dominated by Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi for the past decade, the rivals winning the award five times apiece.

But Modric's impact in Croatia's run to the World Cup final, coupled with Madrid winning the Champions League for the third year in a row, saw him triumph.

Modric - also crowned FIFA's Best Men's Player this year - pipped World Cup winners including Raphael Varane, Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann to the award.

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