Messi, Eto’o and Munir nominated for best UEFA goal of all time

Messi was on target against Real Madrid in 2011 - PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ
A competition is being held to vote for the best goals scored in sixty years of UEFA competition

FC Barcelona are represented by goals from Eto’o, Messi and Munir. Voting closes on November 25

In honour of its 60th anniversary, UEFA is holding a vote for the ten best goals ever scored in any UEFA competition. Sixty goals have been short-listed for the contest, and these include three scored by Barça. The first is the one that Samuel Eto’o scored against Panathinaikos in the Champions League group stage, 2005. Then there’s Leo Messi scoring at the Bernabéu in the 2011 Champions League semi finals, and finally the long distance strike from Munir in last year’s UEFA Youth League Final against Benfica.

Online voting for the best goals ends on November 25. The sixty goals have not only been picked from games played in the Champions League, Cup Winners Cup, Europa League and European Championship in their different guises and formats over the years. There are also goals scored in the U21 European Championship, including one from former FCB man Thiago against Switzerland, and from the UEFA Youth League, including the aforementioned strike by Munir.

Messi, Neymar, Iniesta and Mascherano candidates for FIFA Ballon d'Or 2014

Mascherano, Neymar, Messi and Iniesta candidates for the Ballon d'Or 2014. PHOTO: Fotomuntatge FCB.
FIFA and France Football have announced the shortlist of 23 players who are in contention for the award

The winner will be revealed in Zurich on the 12th of January

Four Barça players have been shortlisted for the FIFA Ballon d’Or 2014. They are Leo Messi, Neymar Jr, Andrés Iniesta and Javier Mascherano. FIFA and France Football magazine announced on Tuesday morning those players nominated for the award  which is given to the best player of the calendar year.

The final decision will be taken by the coaches and captains from every single national team around the world as well as by journalists from France Football via a system of votes. On the 1st of December the final shortlist of the three finalists will be made public.

The winner of the Ballon d’Or 2014 will be revealed on the 12th of January, 2015 during a gala ceremony which will take place in Zurich, Switzerland. On the same day the award for the best goal of 2014 will be announced as will the players selected for the FIFPro Wordl XI.

These are the 23 players shortlisted for the FIFA Ballon d’Or 2014:

Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, Diego Costa, Thibaut Courtois, Cristiano Ronaldo, Angel Di Maria, Mario Goetze, Eden Hazard, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Andrés Iniesta, Toni Kroos, Philipp Lahm, Javier Mascherano, Lionel Messi, Thomas Müller, Manuel Neuer, Neymar, Paul Pogba, Sergio Ramos, Arjen Robben, James Rodriguez, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Touré Yaya.

Iniesta, Rakitic and Rafinha win LFP awards

Rafinha Alcántara was named Best Breakthrough Player for the 2013/14 Liga season / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB
The FC Barcelona trio won awards for Best Attacking Midfielder, Fair Play and Best Breakthrough Player in the 2013/14 Liga season

There was also an award for Dongou of Barça B, who was named Best African Player in the second division

Marta Unzué amd Ruth present award

Two members of Barça’s league title winning ladies team, Marta Unzué and Ruth García were also part of the FC Barcelona expedition. They and several other members of the Spanish national team were there to present the Best Striker in the Second Division award to Ayoze Pérez of Tenerife.

The Spanish Professional Football League (LFP) held its Gala Awards for the 2013/14 season on Monday evening in Madrid, and there was plenty in the way of prizes for FC Barcelona. Three first team members, Andrés Iniesta, Ivan Rakitic and Rafinha Alcántara won in their categories, as did Jean Marie Dongou of Barça B.

Top dogs

Andrés Iniesta picked up the prize for Best Attacking Midfielder ahead of fellow candidates Koke (Atlético Madrid) and his Barça colleague Ivan Rakitic (who was nominated for his form at Sevilla last season). Because he’s receiving treatment for the soleus injury sustained in the Clasico against Real Madrid, he was unable to collect the trophy in person, and instead it was director of sport Andoni Zubizarreta who did the honours, saying that “we all know how good Andrés is, and he also adds a sense of proximity that means he’ll always be respected by his team-mates. Anyone who likes football likes watching Iniesta … As you know, he is currently injured, but this prize will help him to recover more quickly.”

Ivan Rakitic may have missed out in that category, but there was another prize waiting for him in the form of the Fair Play award. As the LFP website said “his play and professionalism have enchanted football supporters have set an example for everybody who loves this sport.” Unfortunately, he too was unable to attend the ceremony because he’s training for Wednesday night’s Catalan Super Cup match with Espanyol. Carles Puyol went up to collect the award on the Croatian’s behalf from former Valencia star Rubén Baraja.

Liga revelation

Rafinha Alcántara was in the house to be presented with his award for Best Breakthrough Player 2013/14 by actor Dani Rovira. The Barça player impressed in his season on loan from Barça to Celta Vigo, and in recognition of that, won the vote ahead of Jesé Rodriguez of Real Madrid and Saúl of Rayo Vallecano. “I thank Celta and my teammates for helping me so much” he told the audience. “I also want to thank my family and my brother Thiago Alcántara, who I’m sure will be strengthened by this … It is an honour to collect this fruit of my work. I am working hard every day and my colleagues at Barça have welcomed me nicely,”

And there was also an award for Jean Marie Dongou of Barça B, who was named Best African Player in last season’s second division. “I want to thank my team-mates” said the Cameroonian. “And also Barça and all the people that help me every day to grow as a footballer.”

Ivan Rakitic: “Luis Enrique has very clear ideas”

Rakitic during the first match of the League at Camp Nou / FOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB
The Croatian explains in an interview with that the blaugrana coach “prepares every detail”

He also reveals that playing for the FC Barcelona first team is “a dream come true”

Ivan Rakitic believes that “Luis Enrique has very clear ideas” and that he is a coach that “prepares every detail”. The blaugrana number 4 says in an interview with that his performances do not just depend on him but also on the players that surround him: “We all need to do well so that the car goes”.

The midfielder also spoke about what having signed for Barça means: “Wearing this shirt is a dream come true, it’s a marvellous feeling. Every kid dreams about coming here”. The Croat explained that when he put pen to paper, “my only thought was of sharing a dressing room with players like these”. ”[[CITA_1]] He looks at the likes of Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets, midfielders like him. “I want to learn from them, as players and as people. They are footballers who have won everything. I know that I have things to learn and I am always looking to take a step forward. You can show your potential if you feel happy and at home, I have felt that way since my first day at Barcelona”.

In the interview Rakitic also looked back at his footballing past. “I will never forget my beginnings at Basel, I have that club in my heart”, he revealed. However, it was with German club Schalke 04 that he made his Champions’ League debut: “Playing in that competition with Schalke 04, who have a huge fanbase, was something fantastic. For me it was important to have made the transition from the Swiss League to the German League, which is very different and much stronger”. [[CITA_2]] To finish, the Barça number 4 looked back at his time with Sevilla with a smile. He ended his career with Andalusian club by winning the Europa League title, winning the Man of the Match award in that very final: “It was a dream come true. Not just for me but for my entire family.”

When I arrived my only thought was of sharing a dressing room with players like these
You can show your potential if you feel happy and at home, I have felt that way since my first day

An insider's view of Luis Suárez on his way to Madrid

Luis Suárez explored uncharted territory on Saturday / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB
This three-minute video highlights the new FC Barcelona player’s first trip with the team

For Luis Suárez, it was more than just an average Saturday. It wasn’t just his first opportunity to face Real Madrid in the Clasico, but also his official debut with FC Barcelona. Check out this three-minute highlight reel of Suarez’s first ever journey with his new Club.