Ballon d’or Winner is: Cristiano Ronaldo

Real Madrid CF and Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo has retained the FIFA Ballon d’Or, beating Lionel Messi and Manuel Neuer to the world crown.

Ronaldo picks up the award for the third time, joining an elite group of only five players to have won it more than twice. It comes after another incredible 12 months for the 29-year-old. He plundered 62 goals in as many games for club and country,breaking multiple records including becoming the first player to score in two UEFA Champions League final wins – one of four trophies for the No7 in 2014.

“It has been an unforgettable year,” said Ronaldo after collecting the accolade from Thierry Henry. “To win a trophy of this kind is unique. I want to continue as I have and go on for more titles for the team and myself, to improve and get better with every day. I’d never have thought I’d pick up this trophy on three occasions. I want to be one of the greatest players of all time.”

Löw honoured
Germany’s FIFA World Cup-winning boss Joachim Löw was named FIFA World Coach of the Year for Men’s Football 2014, seeing off competition from Carlo Ancelotti and Diego Simeone. “It is a huge honour to receive this award, the icing on the cake that was the World Cup,” said the 54-year-old.

“Those who know me know I don’t accept this as my own, though; I accept it on behalf of many others. The World Cup was the consequence of many years of hard work. I thank all German coaches who work with young players – I am nothing without good players. I thank the DFB [German Football Association] for creating the structures that brought this success, and the Bundesliga.”

The FIFA Puskás Award for goal of the year went to Real Madrid’s James Rodríguez for his remarkable volley for Colombia against Uruguay at the World Cup.

The FIFA/FIFPro World XI:
Manuel Neuer (FC Bayern München); Philipp Lahm (FC Bayern München), David Luiz (Paris Saint-Germain), Thiago Silva (Paris Saint-Germain), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid CF); Andrés Iniesta (FC Barcelona), Toni Kroos (Real Madrid CF), Ángel Di María (Manchester United FC); Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid CF), Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona), Arjen Robben (FC Bayern München).

Nadine Kessler took the FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year prize, with VfL Wolfsburg’s Ralf Kellermann honoured as top women’s coach.

Source

Late goal rescues Portugal against USA and Belgium against Russia, While Algeria upsets South Korea with 4 goals!

A superb header by Silvestre Varela deep into time added on saved world player of the year Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal from crashing out of the World Cup finals on Sunday as it secured a 2-2 draw with the United States.

The Americans had looked to be safely into the last 16 after second-half goals by Jermaine Jones and Clint Dempsey saw them come back from 1-0 down – a goal by Nani – to lead.

However, with only seconds remaining one sublime cross from a pretty anonymous Ronaldo was met by Varela and it soared past Tim Howard to give Portugal a lifeline as a further defeat after the 4-0 hammering by Germany in the opening game would have seen them out.

The United States – who reached the last 16 in 2010 only to lose to Ghana – are on four points along with Germany, who they play in their final group game, and who their coach Jurgen Klinsmann led at the 2006 finals.

Ghana and Portugal both have one point and play also on Thursday.

Klinsmann, who was also within seconds of being the first coach to guide the USA to two successive wins at a finals since 1930, was phlegmatic about the dramatic dashing of their hopes.

“Obviously the last second is unfortunate but my guys were magnificent,” said Klinsmann, who won the 1990 World Cup as a player.

“We just have to get a result against Germany. Obviously the Germans have a day more to recover and we have had further to travel for our game but then the big guys are the ones that get the favourite treatment.

“My guys went to the limit but now they have to pick themselves up and despite this result we will go into the game with a lot of confidence.”

The Portuguese got just the start they needed to settle their nerves as a terrible defensive error by Stoke City’s Geoff Cameron – the ball flying off his boot to Nani — saw the Manchester United winger wait for Howard to commit himself before rifling the ball into the net.

It had been preempted by an outrageous piece of skill by Ronaldo down the left side, completely bewitching three American players as they tried to corral him out on the touchline, only for a series of step overs and a backheel to see him squirm through the three of them.

Conditions even in the evening were so draining that five minutes from the break, when Jermaine Jones received some treatment, the referee allowed both sides to rehydrate with a drinks break.

Howard, who was earning his 102nd cap, kept his side in the game on the stroke of half-time as he somehow managed to stick a hand out as he dived the wrong way to tip a pointblank shot by Eder over the bar.

There was an even finer block the other end 10 minutes into the second-half as Bradley’s goalbound effort from only 10 yards out saw defender Ricardo Costa spread himself deflect the ball off his knee for a corner, earning a well deserved kiss on the head from goalkeeper Beto.

The Americans, though, deservedly levelled in the 64th minute as Jones produced a pearler of a right-footed shot from outside the area, leaving Beto rooted to the spot.

Ronaldo and the Portuguese appeared shellshocked and it was the Americans who grabbed a second as Bradley’s shot rebounded to Graham Zusi off a defender and his cross was put into the net by Dempsey’s stomach for his fourth goal at a World Cup finals.

That looked to be that until, like Lionel Messi with his late goal against Iran on Saturday, Ronaldo summoned up one piece of class with his pinpoint cross, which was enough to break American hearts.

 

Belgium beat Russia with late goal

Teenage substitute Divock Origi slammed a last-gasp goal Sunday to secure Belgium a 1-0 victory over Russia and a place in the World Cup’s last 16.

The win was a new step in Belgium’s emergence as a European power, 12 years after their last appearance at the World Cup finals. Russia, who are to host the 2018 finals, have a growing qualification mountain in front of them.

The 19-year-old Origi who plays with Lille in France came on for Romelu Lukaku as the frustrating Group H game seemed destined to end in stalemate until the 88th minute goal.

Seconds after fellow substitute Kevin Mirallas had hit Igor Akinfeev’s post with a free kick, Eden Hazard burst down the left past two defenders and pulled the ball back for Origi to hit into the net from close range.

The win left Belgium as clear Group H leaders with a maximum six points from two games after their 2-1 win over Algeria.

Russia are in danger of going out having started with a draw against South Korea following a huge blunder by keeper Igor Akinfeev.

Now coach Fabio Capello must rally the troops for a do or die contest against Algeria in the last game of the first round group on Thursday.

Belgium and Russia made a bright start and the opening minutes saw chances at both ends.

Victor Fayzulin, a Zenit St Petersburg midfielder full of running, swept into the the box and fired in a low effort that Belgian keeper Thibaut Courtois smartly stopped low to his right

The Belgians, coached by Marc Wilmots, who scored in a 3-2 win for his country in a 2002 group meeting against Russia, responded as Dries Mertens pulled the midfield strings.

Mertens accelerated into the danger zone only to thump an effort wide of the right hand post of Akinfeev, retained despite his butterfingers mistake against the Koreans in Cuiaba.

Mertens drilled another effort wide as the Belgians, semi-finalists in 1986 when they were finally undone by Diego Maradona, turned the screw.

With the runners-up in the group likely to face Germany, assuming the three-time champions top their group, there was every incentive for both sides to chase the win.

Russia enjoyed a purple patch as the opening half came to an end, Fayzulin smacking a volley just over following a corner.

Denis Glushakov, booked for clattering Merhrtens, then crossed for Alexander Kokorin, who avoided being the meat in a Vertonghen-Vincent Kompany sandwich but sent a free header off target.

 Algeria upset South Korea in six-goal thriller

Algeria ended their win-less World Cup run in style as they hammered South Korea 4-2 to keep their dream of a place in the knockout stages very much alive.

The Desert Warriors attacked from the kick off and should have had a penalty inside 10 minutes whenSofiane Feghouli was felled in the area.

But they didn’t have too long to wait to celebrate as Slimani rampaged onto Carl Medjani’s ball over the top, held off two defenders and clipped a neat finish beyond Jung Sung-ryong.

It was a moment of pure ecstasy for the Algerians and just two minutes later they were propelled into dreamland as Fulham reject Rafik Halliche rose highest to thump home a header from a left-wing corner.

The South Koreans had no answer to the vibrant play of Vahid Halilhodzic’s side and it was three just seven minutes before the break when Slimani made the most of a long ball and coolly rolled it to Abdelmoumen Djabou to steer past the keeper.

The Taeguk Warriors responded after the break and pulled one back through Son-Heung Min’s superb turn and shot before Yacine Brahimi restored the three-goal advantage with a low finish after exchanging a wonderful one-two.

South Korea kept going and Koo Ja-cheol diverted home with 18 minutes left but Algeria held on to claim their first World Cup win since 1982 and become the first ever African side to score four goals in a finals match.

Cristiano Ronaldo Won the Ballon d’Or 2013!

Result: Cristiano Ronaldo Won the Ballon d’Or 2013!

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If Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi weren’t so excellent at football, you’d be tempted to call the Ballon d’Or award boring.

The pair’s domination of the sport in recent years has turned the race for Fifa’s golden ball into a straight shoot-out, which has been won by Lionel Messi for the past three years.

This year Ronaldo is the overwhelming favourite, but in Franck Ribérythe game’s two leading lights have their most worthy competitor for many years.

How do the statistics from 2013 compare for all three? Let’s have a look…

The basics
   Messi  Ronaldo Ribery 
Appearances 45 56 52
Minutes on pitch 3346 4542 4018
Won 26 40 52
Drawn 14 10 4
Lost 5 6 3
Trophies 1 0 5

Watch all of Cristiano Ronaldo’s goals and assists in 2013:

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The usually ever-present Lionel Messi suffered a couple of rare injuries this year, limiting his minutes and appearances. Forty-five games is still a laudable total, but well behind Ribéry’s 52, which featured runs to the final of the Champions League and German Cup as well as appearances in the European Super and Club World Cups. His five trophies give him a clear edge, but while Ronaldo ended the year without silverware his triumphant performance to secure World Cup qualification for Portugal in a play-off against Sweden. Just 14 defeats out of 153 combined games illustrate the collective might of all three on the shortlist.


Franck Ribery celebrates with the Champions League trophy (GETTY IMAGES)
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Goals
  Messi  Ronaldo  Ribery 
Goals 42 66 22
Shots on target 87 160 56
Shots off target 59 136 36
Accuracy 59.6% 54.1% 60.9%
Chance conversion 28.8% 22.3% 23.9%

The goals scored figures continue to astound for both La Liga players. Messi’s 42 is an outrageous return of just less than a goal per game, but even that is eclipsed by Ronaldo’s absurd 66 goals from 56 appearances. But Ronaldo’s goal tally came from a total of 396 shots. Messi scored 14 fewer but did so from only 146 attempts on goal, which were more than 5 per cent more accurate than his rival. Ribéry, a player whose main strengths are in other areas, trails both by a significant margin with a still-creditable 22 goals, but he does bost more accurate shooting than the two that play in Spain.

Watch all of Lionel Messi’s goals in 2013:

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Passing
  Messi  Ronaldo  Ribery 
Assists 15 15 18
Chances created 70 94 149
Total passes 2136 1901 2903
Pass completion 84.5% 79.2% 85.7%
Crosses 80 97 261
Cross completion 10% 16.5% 27.6%

The purist’s choice for the award could be Franck Ribéry, who has contributed three more assists for Bayern Munich than either of his rivals for the prize. His chance creation stats also stand out, as does his pass completion rate despite passing far more times than either Messi or Ronaldo. The latter plays in a more direct system than Barcelona or Bayern’s, so his lower total pass count does not surprise, but a failure to complete more than 20 per cent of his passes does not reflect too kindly on the Portuguese.


Cristiano Ronaldo’s passing stats put him third behind Messi and Ribéry (AP)
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Dribbling
Messi  Ronaldo  Ribery 
Dribbles 331 252 1084
Dribble completion 51.4% 46.0% 45.6%
Duels 579 709 943
Duels won 52.5% 54.6% 45.5%

While Ribéry tends to play wide on the left for Bayern Munich, it is something of a surprise to learn that he attempted almost four times as many dribbles as Messi and Ronaldo in 2013. The Frenchman also engages with opposition players more frequently, taking part in 943 one-on-one battles for the ball compared to Ronaldo’s 709 and Messi’s 579. Ribéry’s more frequent forays with the ball

Watch some of Franck Ribery’s best moments from 2013:

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As more advanced players, Messi and Ronaldo predictably contribute less to their teams defensive efforts than Ribéry, but Ronaldo cleared the ball 38 times in 2013, presumably due to often being stationed in crucial areas when Real Madrid were defending corners. Ronaldo has also fouled more than his competitors for the award, and was the only player of the three to receive a red card in 2013.


Lionel Messi with the golden shoe awarded to the European top scorer (AP)
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What have we learned? That we are living in an era of exceptional football. Franck Ribéry, thought of as an in a distant second tier of the best footballers compared to Messi and Ronaldo, won five trophies and contributed a combined total of 30 goals and assists in 2013.

Source: telegraph

David Beckham Retires From Football

The first footballer to become a global brand and the leader of England’s ill-fated ‘golden generation’, David Beckham leaves a greater mark in the celebrity annals than at the very top of the game he graced for 20 years.

Across football there is unqualified admiration for Beckham’s perseverance in forcing his way back into the picture after his ill-judged move to LA Galaxy, where he soon realised what he was missing on the big European stage.

When the end came he was back in Champions League action, like Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, two of his contemporaries in Manchester United’s hallowed class of 1992. But his place in the football pantheon is lower as a consequence of his decision to pursue fame as well as football when he was still in his prime at Old Trafford.

Opinion will veer between excessive praise and unfair disparagement of a player who is thoroughly likeable as a man and committed in just about everything he does. His acute sense of how the celebrity industry works and how to extend the reach of his image is exceptional even by today’s standards of industrialised PR.

Somewhere between becoming a floppy-haired poster boy on the right side of Manchester United’s midfield and a Clark Gable lookalike in Paris, Beckham worked out how to be famous for more than just a good dead-ball delivery and a passion for the game.

The lad from Leytonstone moved through all these gears effortlessly and ended up in Paris via Beverly Hills. But he is not to be compared with the greatest players of his generation.

Even at United he would sit behind Eric Cantona, Cristiano Ronaldo and Giggs and Scholes, who remained members of the United cult while Beckham was fluttering away to Real Madrid, where he recovered from a mid-season crisis to win La Liga in Fabio Capello’s team.

Internationally, he could not match the Brazilian Ronaldo, Ronaldinho or Zinedine Zidane either, because the range of his gifts was too narrow to be compared with those masters.

But he was always thrusting himself onto the same page as them, if not the same paragraph, by virtue of his extraordinary stamina as an athlete and his expert ball-striking, which spoke of a childhood obsession with practice.

There is no reason to run Beckham down as a footballer. Nor are there grounds to overstate his talent. At United many feel he weakened his status as a natural born footballer by pursuing so many commercial and PR opportunities before leaving for Madrid.

The great miscalculation of his career was assuming the good times had passed after his England career seemed to have ended and his time at the Bernabéu turned sour. Moving to LA took him and Victoria to Hollywood but left him stranded in a team that were beneath his profile and abilities.

With his roving eye for fame, though, Beckham became a highly effective ambassador for the London 2012 Olympic bid, though his political clout could not secure him a place in Stuart Pearce’s Team GB squad.

All the while he was shifting towards the kind of national role Tony Blair might have designed for him were he still in power. PSG started out as publicity opportunity for the club but ended with Beckham playing a credible if limited part in their late-season exploits.

In the stampede to the exit, Beckham joins Michael Owen, Scholes, Jamie Carragher and Ferguson himself, who wearied of his limelight-addiction, which was contrary to the code of ‘Fergie’s fledglings’. He left, the others stayed unless forced to leave by an inability to make the side (Nicky Butt, Phil Neville).

Sitting on his money mountain, Beckham will doubtless feel justified in making the most of his film star qualities while the rest of the class of 92 stayed close to home.

England is where the falsehoods really showed. Sven-Goran Eriksson was in thrall to his fame (still is), and allowed Beckham too much power as captain. When the country needed a serious marshalling of some good players, from 2002-2006, it fell instead into a narcissistic state as the Premier League invaded markets around the world.

Some Football Association employees behaved like Beckham’s personal acolytes. He was commercial dynamite. The power to dazzle those became most apparent in 2002 when Japanese girls queued to book into his old room at England’s team base on Awaji Island. Just to occupy a room Beckham had once been in was enough for these besotted new disciples.

But who would want to take away from his century of England caps, his league titles in four countries, his promising future on whatever stage he chooses?

Football was his vehicle, but it was also his first love, and he used it to beat the system everywhere he went.

Euro 2012: Spain beat Portugal to enter Final! Germany Vs Italy Tonight!

Spain reached their third consecutive major tournament final after overcoming neighbours Portugal 4-2 on penalties in the first Euro 2012 semi-final in Donetsk on Wednesday.

After an attritional game finished 0-0 following extra time, Cesc Fabregas swept home the winning spot-kick to put Spain in the final.

Xabi Alonso and Joao Moutinho both saw their opening penalties saved, but Portugal blinked first when Zenit Saint-Petersburg centre-back Bruno Alves slammed his side’s fourth penalty against the crossbar.

Fabregas stepped up and, just as he had done in the penalty shootout win over Italy in the Euro 2008 quarter-finals, the Barcelona man held his nerve, steering the ball into the bottom-left corner to send Portugal home.

Reigning world and European champions Spain, who are bidding to become the first team in history to win three major competitions in a row, will face either Italy or Germany in Sunday’s final in Kiev.

It was a deeply disappointing end to the tournament for Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo, who had threatened to fire his side into only their second major final but who did not even get a chance to have his say in the shoot-out.

A surprise inclusion in Spain’s starting line-up, Alvaro Negredo was at the source of the game’s first chance, with Alvaro Arbeloa side-footing over after the Sevilla striker was crowded out in the Portuguese area.

Portugal’s match-winner against both the Netherlands and the Czech Republic, Ronaldo was a spectator in the first 10 minutes, but gradually his influence grew.

After fluffing a free-kick into the base of the wall from a tight angle on the left, he lashed a half-volley high over the crossbar from the edge of the area and then drilled a left-shot narrowly wide of the right-hand post.

As in the quarter-final win against France, Spain struggled to find holes in their opponent’s defence, and it was a surprise to see Alonso club a long ball forward in the 29th minute.

It produced a sight of goal, however, with Andres Iniesta bending a shot narrowly over the bar after Negredo had chased down Alonso’s pass, held off Fabio Coentrao, and worked the ball back to the edge of the area.

The snap in Portugal’s tackles was helping them establish a presence in the Spanish half and with Negredo failing to provide enough of an outlet for Spain, it was no surprise to see him replaced by Fabregas early in the second half.

Del Bosque introduced Jesus Navas in place of David Silva, before Xavi worked Rui Patricio for the first time in the match with a speculative effort that found the Portugal goalkeeper’s midriff.

Ronaldo had a fine opportunity to snatch a winner in the last minute of normal time but he could only shoot over from Raul Meireles’ pass, prompting mocking cries of ‘Messi! Messi!’ from the Spain fans.

A succession of late flare-ups gave the game added spice going into extra time, and after a watchful opening, Spain finally began to show.

Shortly before half-time in the extra period, Iniesta drew the first real save of note from Patricio after ghosting into the box to meet Jordi Alba’s cut-back.

Sergio Ramos then sent a free-kick whistling over the bar, while Navas tested Patricio early in the second half after wriggling down the inside-right channel in the Portuguese box.

Fabregas sent fellow substitute Pedro Rodriguez clear with seven minutes left but he delayed, allowing Coentrao to clear, and the time for penalties had arrived.

Germany Vs Italy Tonight @ 9:45 Pm ( Beirut Time )