Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 8th 2017 Contents A36 sports
guardian.co.tt Sunday, January 8, 2017
Ronaldo favoured to win
his 4th FIFA player award
Cristiano Ronaldo’s remarka-
ble run of success can continue
with a fourth FIFA award as the
world’s best player on Monday.
A European champion with club
and country last year, the Real Ma-
drid and Portugal forward is favored
to beat great rival Lionel Messi and
France forward Antoine Griezmann
when winners of the rebranded Best
FIFA Football Awards are presented
Messi leads Ronaldo 5-3 in their
career-long duel for FIFA’s top in-
However, Ronaldo is set to com-
plete a hat-trick of major awards for
2016 after taking home trophies pre-
sented by UEFA and France Football
magazine’s prestiguous Golden Ball.
FIFA will also name the best wom-
en’s player, and the best coaches in
men’s and women’s soccer.
Voting is by national team captains
and coaches, selected journalists and
— for the first time — an online poll
of fans. Each category counts for 25
percent of the points.
Here is a look ahead to the awards
After Messi in 2015, it was Ron-
aldo’s turn to win the Champions
League in 2016 as the prolific scorer
netted 16 goals in the competition.
He also got the decisive penalty
in a shootout after a 1-1 draw with
Griezmann’s Atletico Madrid.
But where he really dominated
Messi was on the national-team
Ronaldo captained Portugal to a
long-awaited first title at the Eu-
ropean Championship — two weeks
after Messi’s Argentina again lost the
Copa America final to Chile.
Portugal seemed a long way from
glory, and faced a humiliating group-
stage exit, before Ronaldo’s two goals
helped salvage a 3-3 draw with Hun-
gary. He also netted in the 2-0 sem-
ifinal win against Wales.
In the final against host France,
Ronaldo went off injured in the
first half, then returned to the bench
for extra time as — with his knee
strapped — he passionately urged
teammates on to a 1-0 win.
For good measure, Ronaldo scored
a Club World Cup final hat trick
against Kashima Antlers in Decem-
ber, but that was after FIFA
voting had closed.
Messi looks to ex-
tend a streak of being
winner or runner-up
in nine straight sea-
sons since placing
second behind Kaka of
Brazil in 2007.
Last year, Messi and won a
Spanish league and Cup double
Yet there was another painful Copa
America final loss — a third straight
year Argentina lost a major final
without scoring — and a Champi-
ons League quarterfinal exit against
Nearing his 30th birthday, Mes-
si’s prolific scoring rate has not
slowed, and 10 goals in the Cham-
pions League group stage means that
Ronaldo’s season record of 17 — set
in 2013-14 — is within his sight this
Could the coach of a provincial
club side beat the men who coached
European champions Real
Madrid and Portugal?
Yes, when that
coach is Ital-
dio Ranieri and his team, unheralded
Leicester City, won an English Pre-
mier League title that delighted and
stunned fans worldwide.
Zinedine Zidane started 2016 hav-
ing never coached a senior match.
The newly appointed Madrid coach
won a Champions League title within
five months and started 2017 riding
a 37-match unbeaten run.
Fernando Santos marshalled one
of the less obviously talented Por-
tugal teams of recent years to win
Euro 2016 despite winning only one
of its seven matches during the 90
Griezmann’s goals helped get
France and Atletico Madrid into
major finals in 2016.
In the Champions League final
in Milan, Atletico trailed 1-0 to
its city rival when Griezmann
missed with a penalty kick that
struck the crossbar. Still, he con-
fidently converted his kick
in the penalty shootout.
goals at Euro 2016
made him the tour-
nament top scorer.
In a tricky round
of 16 match, his
two goals over-
turned an ear-
ly Ireland lead,
and he also struck
twice — including a
coolly taken penal-
ty — against favored
Germany in the sem-
However, he missed two good
chances in the final against Portugal
as France 1-0 in extra time.
Germany’s Olympic gold med-
al-winning team is favored to sweep
Midfielder Melanie Behringer is
challenging two past FIFA award
winners: defending champion Carli
Lloyd of the United States and five-
time winner Marta of Brazil.
All three coaching candidates are
previous FIFA award winners: Silvia
Neid of Germany, last year’s winner
Jill Ellis of the United States and Pia
Sundhage of Sweden.
FIFA has added a Fan Award to
its annual ceremony, and all three
candidates from an online poll are
Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund,
whose fans sang You’ll Never Walk
Alone before a Europa League match
at Anfield; Dutch club ADO Den
Haag, whose fans brought soft toys to
children supporting rival team Fey-
enoord; and the Iceland fans at Euro
2016 for their inspirational clapping
salute to players after games.
A fans’ vote will also decide the
Puskas Award for best goal. The can-
didates are: Marlone of Corinthians,
Daniuska Rodriguez of the Vene-
zuela women’s Under-17 team,
and Mohd Faiz Subri of
Malaysian side Penang.
FIFA will also pres-
ent a Fair Play award,
and members of
to select a
Moenchengladbach’s Christoph Kramer, left, and Tobias Strobl challenge Barcelona’s Lionel Messi for the ball
during their Champions League encounter at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, in December. Barcelona
won 4-0. AP PHOTO
FILE: Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo
celebrates with the trophy at the end
of the Euro 2016 final against France at
the Stade de France, Paris. AP PHOTO
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