Cristiano Ronaldo wins fifth Ballon d’Or award

Published by:

Cristiano Ronaldo won the fifth Ballon d’Or of his career yesterday, matching Lionel Messi as the most-awarded winner of one of football top individual honours.

Ronaldo, 32, won the award for the second consecutive time, after a year that saw him help Real Madrid to a third Champions League crown in four seasons and a first La Liga title in five years, as well as the FIFA Club World Cup.

The Portuguese captain also scored twice as Madrid beat Juventus 4-1 in the Champions League final in June, while also finishing top scorer in the competition with 12 goals.

Upon accepting his latest honour in a ceremony held at the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Ronaldo said: “I feel very happy, it’s a fantastic moment in my career, I’ve been waiting for this for a long time.”

“This year has been great, we won the Champions League and La Liga and, on a personal level, I was a top scorer in the Champions League. Trophies help win these awards and we have to thank my colleagues from Madrid and Portugal, it was very important for me.”

FC Barcelona star Lionel Messi was the runner-up in votes for the award, now conducted by a global panel of journalists and organised by France Football magazine after a split from a partnership with FIFA that ran from 2010-15. Ronaldo had also won FIFA’s top award in October when he was named FIFA Best Men’s Player for the second consecutive year.

This year also marked the seventh straight year that both Messi and Ronaldo have finished in the top two for the Ballon d’Or — no one else has won the title since AC Milan midfielder Kaka did in 2007, when Ronaldo was second and Messi third.

Neymar, who moved from Barca to Paris Saint-Germain this summer, finished third for the second time in his career, while Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon was fourth.

Two of Ronaldo’s Real Madrid teammates were also in the top-ten of the Ballon d’Or final standings, with Luka Modric fifth and Sergio Ramos sixth as the top defender on the list.

Kevin de Bruyne disappointed with Paul Pogba absence in upcoming derby

Published by:

Manchester City midfielder Kevin de Bruyne claims that he was disappointed that Paul Pogba will be absent for Sunday’s Manchester derby because he relishes coming up against the best players.

Pogba will be starting a three-match ban after he was sent off in Manchester United’s 3-1 win at Arsenal for a challenge on Hector Bellerín.

Although the French international said last week that he hoped Manchester City players would suffer injuries to help United’s title push, de Bruyne rejected the idea that karma was at work.

“I don’t believe in that,” de Bruyne said. “I’m a very straightforward guy. If someone believes it is karma then OK. Everyone has their right to their opinion. I don’t want anyone to get injured. It’s a competition, you want to play against the best teams and the best players.”

“I don’t care [what he says]. He can say whatever he wants. We just have to be focused on whatever we’re doing. He’s a massive player. I know him a little bit. He’s unbelievable. He took a red card and that’s the way it goes – you have injuries and suspensions.”

Should City win at Old Trafford on Sunday they will move 11 points clear at the top, but De Bruyne remains wary of celebrating too early, and that nobody will care about Manchester City’s present club-record 20-match winning run if they fail to pick up any trophies this season.

“It means we [would] almost have a four-game advantage,” he added. “It’s a good gap but doesn’t mean anything. Football goes very quick. It’s a busy two months when things can change but the way we’re going is good and we need to continue that.”

“If we don’t win anything, are you going to talk about 20 wins? Nobody will care about it. Our winning run is phenomenal and gives us a good advantage but we have a big week with Swansea and Tottenham following the United game.”

“If we lost two out of three and they win everything, they are there. At the moment we are on an up. We need to keep focused with whatever we are doing and keep busy with ourselves.”

City did not offer €100m signing-on bonus to Lionel Messi -Guardiola

Published by:

Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola has said that the club did not offer FC Barcelona star Lionel Messi a €100m signing-on fee to leave the La Liga giants last summer.

Messi, 30, agreed fresh terms last week to extend his contract with the Catalan club until 2021, amidst a separate report in Spain claiming that City tried to lure the Argentinian to England with the €100m fee plus a €50m a-year salary.

When asked about the reputed offer, Guardiola summarily denied the rumours.

“It’s not true. Lionel Messi has signed a contract one week ago,” he said. “This was never going to happen; Messi started his career there and he’s going to finish it there. If he wanted to leave he wouldn’t have signed the contract.”

City will be playing against Shakhtar Donetsk in Kharkiv on Wednesday night in the final round of Champions League group fixtures although the Blues are already through as group winners. If they win Guardiola will be the club’s first manager to win all six group games.

“We are doing well but that doesn’t mean you will achieve the title,” he said. “In this competition one bad 45 minutes and you are out. That means you can win the title but go out if you are doing well. I’m not concerned if we are playing the best football.”

Guardiola also has an eye on Sunday’s showdown against Premier League and City rivals Manchester United, with team playmaker David Silva becoming a doubt through injury.

“David had a little bit of a problem in the last minutes [against West Ham United on Sunday],” he said. “We made a test after the game and I don’t know if he is able to play on Sunday so that’s why he stayed there, to recover in Manchester.”

Peter Bosz says Real Madrid wouldn’t want “terrible” Aubameyang

Published by:

Borussia Dortmund coach Peter Bosz joked that team star Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is a “terrible player” amidst links of the Gabon striker with a move to Real Madrid, their next opponents in the Champions League.

Aubameyang, 28, has long been linked with the defending European champions and have spoken of his desire to play for Los Blancos to fulfil a promise made to his Madrid-supporting grandfather in the past.

He will have an opportunity to impress the Spanish champions too, as Dortmund take on Zinedine Zidane’s men in the knowledge that it will be their last fixture in the Champions League this season — although they still require a win to guarantee themselves passage to the Europa League.

However, this comes amidst a poor run of form that has seen Dortmund drop from Bundesliga leaders to sixth and had their hopes to progress in the Champions League cut short, but Bosz remained jovial when quizzed on Aubameyang’s ability to play for Madrid in the future.

“He is a terrible player, very bad, not worth it for Real Madrid,” Bosz said in the pre-match conference against Real. “(but) It’s a joke. I’m telling you that so he stays with us. He is excellent and has the quality to play for Real Madrid but I hope he stays here.”

Bosz comes into the game under increasing pressure and scrutiny, with Dortmund’s only win in their last 11 games coming in their DFB-Pokal fixture against third-tier Magdeburg.

On the other hand, Zinedine Zidane — Bosz’s counterpart at Real — has also come in for criticism with the Spanish giants lagging at fourth in La Liga, eight points adrift of league leaders FC Barcelona just months after winning the Spanish title. Still, Bosz believes that Zidane does not have much cause for concern compared to himself.

“We are in a difficult phase, but must try to play a good match,” he said. “It is not just a game for points, but also for confidence. If Real is in a crisis, then what are we?”