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FIFA Ballon D’or Nominees Revealed

ballon-d-or-2015Fifa have announced the three names that make up the shortlist for the Ballon d’Or awards.
Barcelona duo Lionel Messi and Neymar will compete with current holder Cristiano Ronaldo for this year’s FIFA Ballon d’Or.

Real Madrid forward Ronaldo has won the award for the past two years, with Messi winning it for each of the four years previous to that. And with Ronaldo named in 2008 too, one of the pair has been named the best player in the world on the last seven occasions.

Rooney-RonaldoFormer Manchester United captain, and current Sky Sports pundit, Gary Neville believes that his former club are just two players short of winning the Premier League, with rumours of Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Old Trafford picking up momentum again.

If you put two more players into Manchester United’s team, say a Gareth Bale or a Cristiano Ronaldo into that team, that team could win the league. Because the structure that is being built at this moment in time is solid. But they need that match-winner, that Neymar, that Luis Suarez, the one that is going to light up a game and score one or two goals to take it away, then all of a sudden they would look like a Barcelona, because they’re dominating possession, making teams look foolish.

jamie-vardyLeicester City striker Jamie Vardy made history by scoring for the 11th Premier League match, as the Foxes drew 1-1 at home to Manchester United.

The England forward struck in the 24th minute as Leicester scored the kind of counter-attacking goal that Manchester United used to score. Leicester goalkeeper Kaspar Schmeichel collected a corner and launched a counter attack with a long throw out to Christian Fuchs.

The midfielder ran for 30 thirty yards unchallenged before splitting the United defence with a great through ball to Vardy who made no mistake with the finish.

usaworldcupqualifyingThe U.S.A. is pulling out all the stops for its crucial World Cup qualifier against Guatemala, as US Soccer has announced that the match will take place in Columbus, Ohio on March 29.

I don’t think that their is a bigger home-field advantage for the Americans than the home of the Columbus Crew. Since first opening in 1999, the MNT has gone 7-0-3 all-time and 6-0-2 in eight World Cup Qualifying matches at the venue. Most notably, the site has played host to four straight World Cup Qualifiers against Mexico, each finishing with the famous “Dos a Cero” score line.

jose-mourinho-smilingIt was a smiling Jose Mourinho that met with the press on Wednesday after seeing his side beat Maccabi Tel Aviv 4-0 and take a big step towards qualifying for the CHampions League knock-out stages.

The Portuguese manager began his post-match press conference by asking journalists for a calculator so he could figure out what Chelsea would have to do to qualify for the last 16. After pausing and thinking about it, Mourinho said:

“I know if we win, we finish first. If we lose we are going to the Europa League and with a draw second place.”

lvg2-mufcManchester United manager Louis van Gaal admits that he is was “worried” about his team’s goal-scoring problems after a goalless draw with PSV Eindhoven left their Champions League campaign in the balance.

Victory on Wednesday would have taken United into the last 16, but with Jesse Lingard blazing their best chance over the bar in the second half, they must now win away to Group B leaders Wolfsburg in their final match to be certain of a place in the knockout phase. United have scored only six goals in their last eight games, four of which have been 0-0 draws, but while Van Gaal admitted to feeling concerned, he drew encouragement from the handful of chances his side had created.

Champions League trophyManchester United, Arsenal and Porto are among 13 teams competing for the seven unclaimed places in the Champions League knockout phase on 8 and 9 December.

Qualified: Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain, Atlético Madrid, Benfica, Juventus, Manchester City, Barcelona, Bayern München, Zenit

Can qualify: Wolfsburg*, Manchester United*, PSV Eindhoven, Roma, Leverkusen, BATE Borisov, Olympiacos*, Arsenal*, Porto*, Chelsea*, Dynamo Kyiv*, Gent*, Valencia*

Group By Group Standings
Group A: Real Madrid (13 points, qualified) v Malmö (3), Paris Saint-Germain (10, qualified) v Shakhtar Donetsk (3)
Madrid have won the group, Paris will finish second.

Europa-League-TrophyAthletic Club, Lazio, Liverpool, Schalke, Tottenham Hotspur and Villarreal were among the 11 teams who booked their places in the round of 32 on Thursday.

Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool defeated Bordeaux 2-1 at Anfield having endured the worst possible start when injury-plagued England striker Daniel Sturridge’s comeback from a knee injury stalled when he hurt his foot in training.

The English side then fell a goal down in the Group B clash in bizarre fashion after 33 minutes when goalkeeper Simon Mignolet was penalised for holding onto the ball for 20 seconds rather than the permitted six.

suarez-neymar-messiBayern Munich blitzed Olympiakos with three goals in the first 20 minutes to seal qualification – and keep Arsenal in the hunt.

Douglas Costa opened the floodgates in the eighth minute with a rocket shot before Robert Lewandowski’s 5th goal of the campaign – his 20th in all competitions – doubled Bayern’s lead. Four minutes later Arjen Robben set up Thomas Muller who made no mistake to put the result beyond doubt.

Bayern defender Holger Badstuber was sent off early in the second half but it did not stop the German champions, and Kingsley Coman added a fourth with 20 minutes to go to make it 4-0.

Perez And His Woe Is Me Press Conference

Perez-real-madridIncredible whining press conference from Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez on Monday, where he confirmed his support for Rafa Benítez which has been called into question after the team’s humbling defeat against Barcelona on Saturday.

As we all know, the squad has been under increasing pressure since January of this year”, he said. He also mentioned the numerous injuries the team has struggled with in the opening months of this season.

“The solution to this is Rafa Benitez. We signed him to turn things around. We think he is the right person. But we must let him work — not listen to those making up lies that board doesn’t want him, or the players don’t want him.