Ronaldo, Messi, Rapinoe nominated for FIFA awards

Ronaldo and Messi were among the 10 candidates for the FIFA best player award announced on Wednesday. (AFP)
Updated 01 August 2019

Ronaldo, Messi, Rapinoe nominated for FIFA awards

GENEBA: Five-time winners Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi were among the 10 candidates for the FIFA best player award announced Wednesday. US forward Megan Rapinoe is the favorite for the women’s award.

Ronaldo and Messi were joined by three Liverpool players, Mohamed Salah, Virgil van Dijk and Sadio Mane. Liverpool won the Champions League title in June.

Also in the list were Ajax players Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt, who have since joined Barcelona and Juventus, respectively, along with former Chelsea forward Eden Hazard, who has joined Real Madrid, Tottenham striker Harry Kane and Paris Saint-Germain striker Kylian Mbappe.

Luka Modric, who won the award last year after leading Croatia to the World Cup final, was not on the list.

Rapinoe was in a list of 12 players that included teammates Alex Morgan, Rose Lavelle and Julie Ertz. Ada Hegerberg, a Norway forward who won the Ballon d’Or but skipped this year’s World Cup, was also nominated.

Liverpool coach Jürgen Klopp was nominated for best coach along with Premier League rivals Pep Guardiola of Manchester City and Mauricio Pochettino of Tottenham.

US coach Jill Ellis, who won back-to-back World Cup titles before stepping down after more than five years in charge, was nominated for the award for the best coach in women’s soccer.

Three finalists in each category — best male player, best female player, best coach in men’s soccer and best coach in women’s soccer — will be announced before the ceremony in Milan on Sept. 23. The winners will be voted by national team coaches and captains, selected media and online fan voting.


Manchester United and City seek derby delight

Updated 06 December 2019

Manchester United and City seek derby delight

  • Liverpool travel to Bournemouth aiming to surge further clear at the top of the points chart

LONDON: Both sides of the Manchester divide will be hoping some derby delight can add impetus to disappointing seasons when City host United on Saturday, while Liverpool travel to Bournemouth aiming to surge further clear at the top of the Premier League.

Manchester United got a badly needed win for manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on Wednesday, inflicting a first defeat on Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho as the Portuguese returned to Old Trafford.

The Red Devils were again reliant on Marcus Rashford goals as the England forward struck twice to take his tally to 12 in 13 games for club and country.

“He was strong, direct, taking people on, inside and outside with no fear,” said Solskjaer. “That’s what we want — we want to see boys enjoying themselves.”

There has been precious little for United fans to enjoy this season, but just a fifth Premier League victory in 15 games was enough to lift them up to sixth.

That is still 11 points adrift of third-placed City, despite their own struggles at times.

Pep Guardiola’s men looked more like their old selves in thrashing Burnley 4-1 on Tuesday with Gabriel Jesus stepping up in the absence of the injured Sergio Aguero to score twice.

City have lost just one of six league meetings with United since Guardiola took charge three years ago and cannot afford to slip up if they are to maintain any aspirations of catching Liverpool in the title race. The English champions could kick off at the Etihad 14 points behind the leaders, should Jurgen Klopp’s men continue their scintillating form at Bournemouth earlier on Saturday.

“For the distance we are behind Liverpool it would be crazy to think about the title, we have to think about the derby,” said Guardiola.

Klopp could even afford the luxury of leaving Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah on the bench for a 5-2 thrashing of Everton in the Merseyside derby in midweek.

Both are expected to return for the visit to the south coast, but Klopp may rest some of his stars who did start against Everton ahead of a huge week for the European champions.

Liverpool travel to Salzburg in the Champions League on Tuesday needing to avoid defeat if their defense of the title is not to embarrassingly end in the group stages.

Divock Origi scored twice against Everton and Xherdan Shaqiri struck on his first start of the season to prove Klopp does have the strength in depth to successfully shuffle his pack.

“It’s easy for me to tell them often, very often, how good they are but if they then don’t play it’s not too easy for them to always understand what I say,” said Klopp.

“But if they play and deliver like they did, it’s a very, very important sign for the whole squad.”

Leicester remain Liverpool’s closest challengers, eight points back in second, thanks to a run of eight straight wins in all competitions.

“The team is developing and are proving they have a winning mentality and mindset,” said Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers, who has dismissed speculation linking him with the vacant managerial role at Arsenal.

Next up for the in-form Foxes is a trip to Aston Villa on Sunday.

Villa are one of a host of teams hauled back into the battle to avoid relegation by Southampton’s resurgence with Dean Smith’s men just one point above the drop zone.