The Argentina and Barcelona has done it for the FIFTH time. What a machine!
The iconic player says: “Good evening again. It’s a very special moment for me to be back, here on this stage, winning another Ballon d’Or, after being there in the audience winning Ronaldo win it two years in a row. It’s incredible. My fifth. It’s more than anything I dreamed of as a kid. I want to thank my team-mates, without them none of this would have been possible. I want to thank football in general – for the bad and the good.“
Luis Enrique is the best Coach.
Women’s World Player of the Year award goes to Carli Lloyd!
Cristiano Ronaldo has been asked to pick one quality he’d like from Lionel Messi – and he’s given an honest answer.
The Real Madrid star, along with his Barcelona rivals Messi and Neymar, was speaking at the Ballon d’Or pre-award show press conference on Monday where the Argentine is heavily expected to win the trophy for the fifth time in his career.
Both Messi and Ronaldo were asked which quality they would take from each other, and the Portugal international admitted: “Yes, his left foot his really good, I would like to have that!”
Messi, meanwhile, was a bit more vague.
“What Cristiano has is lots of quality, lots of good things that every player would like as well,” said the Barcelona forward.
“But I am the way I am, and he is the way he is. We each have individual personalities and we have both very good things that everybody should have as footballers.”
Neymar was a bit more humble and admitted he would like to have feet from both Messi and 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.”
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.
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.
Germany started their World Cup campaign with a dominant 4-0 win over 10-man Portugal in Salvador. Thomas Müller netted a hat-trick en route to their massive victory, with Die Mannschaftputting their opponents to the sword after the Selecção had defender Pepe sent off in the first half.
Despite Germany’s eventual dominance, the game actually started quite evenly. Cristiano Ronaldo was denied by the shins of Manuel Neuer, seconds before Sami Khedira missed an open goal from distance after Portugal goalkeeper Rui Patrício made a sloppy giveaway from his own box. Both sides looked rather unconvincing defensively, and given the top class attacking talent on show, an opening goal felt imminent.
So it proved, with Germany’s Thomas Müller breaking the deadlock from the penalty spot in the 11th minute after João Pereira ended a swift German counter-attack by tugging Mario Götze down in the box. There was still no sign of a Portugal collapse, even when they went two down after the half-hour. A corner fromToni Kroos was powered into the back of the net by Mats Hummels, doubling Die Mannschaft‘s advantage with another set-piece goal.
Fábio Coentrão had Portugal’s best chance within three minutes of Germany’s second, though caught in two minds as to whether to cross or shoot from a tight angle, his tame effort was poked behind for a corner. Things only really started getting ugly a couple of minutes later, when notoriously temperamental defender Pepe raised his arm to the face of Müller and earned a red card for headbutting him once he theatrically hit the deck.
With their numerical superiority, Germany suddenly looked in total control. They all but sealed the points in stoppage time at the end of the first half, when a deep cross from Toni Kroos was chested down in the penalty area and promptly dispatched by Müller.
Germany should have netted a fourth within minutes of the restart, when Mesut Özil found himself clean through on Patrício’s penalty area. However, he delayed his shot, giving the Portugal keeper enough time to get down and deny him in the one-on-one. Unfortunately that only proved to be a brief break in Portugal’s misery, which continued when left-back Coentrão was stretchered off just past the hour.
Meanwhile, Germany looked like they were participating in a training ground possession exercise. They appeared capable of breaking through the Portuguese ranks at will, and they did so with about 20 minutes remaining, only for Götze to hesitate and allow the defence to recover position. Nevertheless, Germany did eventually add a fourth with 10 minutes remaining; Patricío allowing an André Schürrle cross to squirm out for Müller to poke home.
Cristiano Ronaldo almost produced a spectacular consolation with a powerful free-kick in stoppage time, though Neuer parried his stinging effort.
It began with the magical. It ended with the miraculous.
John Brooks, a 21-year-old German-American making his competitive debut for the United States, who was on the field only because a starting fullback was hurt, powered a fierce header into the net in the 86th minute Monday to give the United States a 2-1 victory over Ghana in its first match of the World Cup.
Afterward, Brooks said that he had dreamed nearly the exact situation two nights ago, the only difference being that in his imagination, he scored in the 80th minute. He did not seem particularly bothered by reality’s six-minute delay.
“It was my first dream,” he said softly, “hopefully not my last.”
Brooks’s header was the dramatic coda to an evening that was a jackhammer of emotions. It opened with exuberance from the Americans after Clint Dempsey scored inside 30 seconds. That was followed by about 80 minutes of nervy, anxious nail-biting as two key players were lost to injury and Ghana pounded at the United States goal. Then came a few moments of disappointment after Ghana tied the game. And finally, there was Brooks, rising to meet Graham Zusi’s corner kick and covering the United States with the warm glow of an upset victory.
The Americans still have a considerable road to navigate to reach the knockout rounds with group games yet to play against Portugal (on Sunday) and Germany (on June 26). Any hope of advancement, though, was predicated on a positive result here. And the United States got one.
“The response after they scored was really good,”midfielder Michael Bradley said. “You looked around and still felt like there was more in it.”
At the final whistle, Coach Jürgen Klinsmann, who had not hesitated to liken this game to a final in terms of importance, ran onto the field, a smile wide across his face. The Ghana players, aware of how critical 3 points here were, sank to the ground in anguish.
“The feelings are just incredible,” the American defender Matt Besler said.
It was that way from the start. Just moments after the game kicked off, Dempsey, the United States captain, saw a pass come his way and let it run, stepping over the ball with his foot before tapping it forward with the inside of his right heel. It was a stylish move, dripping with confidence. The ball now in front of him, Dempsey bore in on goal.
One Ghana player ran across him. Then another. Dempsey cut to the inside and, with a quick finish, suddenly stroked the ball past the goalkeeper and in off the post. Klinsmann and the entire United States bench erupted. In their first game of the World Cup, in a group of sharks, the Americans were leading in roughly the time it takes to mix a caipirinha. Twenty-nine seconds was all that ticked off the clock, the fifth-fastest goal in World Cup history.
“I saw that there was space,” Dempsey said, “and I just tried to hit it as hard as I could.”
As the ball settled into the back of the net, Dempsey took off running. Klinsmann threw his hands in the air. The American fans, who looked to make up half of the crowd of 39,760 at Arena das Dunas, danced in the aisles as the United States was suddenly in the lead.
But the Americans could not maintain their pace. In truth, most of the rest of the game was maddening for the United States as Ghana bossed the ball around the field. Frustration turned to sadness, too, when Jozy Altidore, one of Klinsmann’s top strikers, looked to sustain a serious leg injury. Altidore reached down and grabbed the back of his leg as he sprinted for a ball down the sideline in the 21st minute, a telltale sign of real pain. Klinsmann cradled Altidore’s head in his fingers just before Altidore was taken off on a stretcher, his World Cup participation now murky because of a strained hamstring.
“I was crushed,” Altidore said. “I knew right away I couldn’t continue. It was the worst feeling.”
Things did not improve for the Americans as the minutes passed. Ghana, which eliminated the United States in each of the past two World Cups, hammered on the Americans. Kyle Beckerman was floored by a brutal elbow to the head from Mohammed Rabiu (who was cautioned). Dempsey went down, blood pouring from his nose, after taking a shin to the face from John Boye (who got away undisciplined).
Dempsey played the rest of the game despite struggling to breathe through his nose, saying afterward that he was “coughing up blood a little bit.”
Alejandro Bedoya also looked bothered by a leg injury and so, too, did Besler, one of the two starting central defenders. With Ghana controlling possession and pushing, Klinsmann did not want to risk a gimpy defense, so he pulled Besler at halftime as a precaution. Brooks was the replacement.
The American back line held off Ghana until the 82nd minute. That was when André Ayew beat Tim Howard at the near post from close range.
Deflated as the Americans may have been, they also knew that a tie would still be a good result. Yet Brooks wanted more. And when Zusi’s penetrating corner swung in, the 6-foot-4 Brooks met the ball ferociously, blasting it down and bouncing it past Adam Kwarasey in Ghana’s goal.
Brooks sprinted toward the corner flag and collapsed, as if in a daze. Then he pounded his hands into the ground.
“If you score after just one minute,” Klinsmann said, “you think there can’t be anything better than that.”
Result: Cristiano Ronaldo Won the Ballon d’Or 2013!
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…
Minutes on pitch
Watch all of Cristiano Ronaldo’s goals and assists in 2013:
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) ——————————————————————————————-
Shots on target
Shots off target
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:
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) ——————————————————————————————-
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:
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) ——————————————————————————————-
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.