FIFPro World XI Named at Prestigious FIFA Best Awards Ceremony in London

Manchester United and Spain goalkeeper David de Gea is among the players to have been named in the FIFA FIFPro World XI for 2018, though there was a notable omission from the team – in Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah.

With the Best FIFA Football Award ceremony having taken place in London on Monday night, several players were recognised for their contributions to the sport over the past year.

The Spanish stopper joined Real Madrid stars Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Marcelo and Luka Modric in the world’s top side, while Barcelona and Argentina superstar Lionel Messi was included as well.

Former Barca star defender Dani Alves, now at Paris Saint-Germain, made up the defensive line for the World’s best as Chelsea pair N’Golo Kante and Eden Hazard were named among the best midfielders.

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The Blues midfielders have been two of the most impressive players in the Premier League and they both had incredible campaigns in the World Cup, with the former going on to win the trophy with France while the latter won bronze with Belgium.

New Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo has also unsurprisingly made it into the prestigious 11 after another great year in Europe with Madrid, and French prodigy Kylian Mbappe would join him after a World Cup-winning summer.

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?Modric, who won the World Cup’s Golden Ball and was only recently named UEFA’s Player of the Year, has been handed yet another personal triumph off the back of an incredible season with Real and an impressive World Cup performance with Croatia.

The Croatian midfielder would also be presented with the night’s top award, being named the Best FIFA Men’s Player of 2018.

“This trophy is also for my family without who I would not be the player and person that I am,” he said. “Thanks to my fans all over the world for great support and love that they are showing me.”

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The Best: How the World Looked the Last Time Ronaldo or Messi Didn’t Win FIFA’s Top Award

It was 2007 the last time that neither Lionel Messi nor Cristiano Ronaldo won FIFA’s top individual global award – be it the FIFA World Player of the Year, FIFA Ballon d’Or, or Best FIFA Men’s Player – in any of it various guises, with Kaka the last man to rule the football world.

That is a decade of dominance at the elite level, but one that is under threat in 2018.

That is because Messi isn’t even on the final three-man shortlist for a FIFA award for the first time since 2006, while Ronaldo faces serious competition from Luka Modric and Mohamed Salah to retain his crown.

In the modern world where everything moves to quickly and hyperbole rules, 2007 was a very, very long time ago and so much has changed…  

9. Kylian Mbappe Was 8-Years-Old

He might well be winning the top individual prizes in the coming years, but Kylian Mbappe was still three days shy of his ninth birthday when Kaka was handed the FIFA World Player of the Year award on December 20, 2007.

Since, then he’s become the second most expensive player in history and won the World Cup.  

8. Spain Were World Football’s Underachievers

Until winning Euro 2008 kicked off a run of international dominance, Spain were just as guilty as England for being world football’s great underachievers.

Having won an early European Championship in 1964, the sleeping giant often failed to live up to their potential at various times, with Euro 2008 at last breaking a 44-year drought that was quickly followed by a maiden World Cup in 2010 and another European crown in 2012.

Now, a new generation of Spanish players is tipped for even more glory in the coming years.  

7. Social Media Was Only Just Taking Hold

We’d had four years of MySpace back in 2007, but Facebook was only just catching on for a global audience after Mark Zuckerburg had launched the website from his college dorm room at Harvard University only three years earlier.

Twitter was a thing, but only just, and it wouldn’t blow up until 2009.

Instagram, Snapchat, Tinder…? Come on.  

6. iPhones Joined the Smartphone Revolution

Although primitive by today’s standards, smartphones have existed since the late 1990s. But it wasn’t until 2007 and beyond that the revolution really began and the devices we now take for granted started to become commonplace.

Apple released its first generation iPhone in June 2007 and it was two years later in 2009 that Samsung produced its first iteration of the Galaxy.  

5. Donald Trump Was Just a Rich Guy From TV

11 years ago, the closest Donald Trump had got to becoming President of the United States was a line in an episode of The Simpsons aired in 2000 that jokingly predicted a future in which his time in office had tanked the country’s economy.

Fast forward to 2016 and that future became an unlikely reality. In 2007, he was mainly known as that rich guy from TV who fronted The Apprentice.  

4. People Still Actually Watched TV

These days, television consumption is all about on demand and streaming. Netflix, Amazon and catch up are taking over. Certainly with regard to the YouTube, staying tuned in with ‘vloggers’ has become the hit thing for Millenials and Generation Z-ers.

When was the last time you sat down to watch a television programme on a real TV at the precise time when it was originally on?  

3. The Big Bang Theory Was Brand New

In December 2007, a new show broadcast on CBS called ‘The Big Bang Theory’ was only a few short months into its debut season. 

All these years later, Dr. Sheldon Cooper and co. are still on the air, with the current series of one of the most popular sit-coms in television history set to be the final one.

Another CBS comedy called ‘How I Met Your Mother’ was into its third year, but in late 2007 we were still five-and-half-years from learning who the mother was, and six-and-a-half years away from one of the most eagerly anticipated and yet disappointing TV finales in recent memory.  

2. The Global Financial Crisis Hadn’t Hit

The world was plunged into financial turmoil in September 2008 when the collapse of Lehman Brothers in the United States triggered an international banking crisis, the full effects of which have still not worn off to this day.

The world was a simpler and more affordable place in 2007.  

1. Brexit…Where to Even Begin?

Brexit, that thing that some people convince 52% of British voters was a good thing with mistruths and false information, was still a distant pipedream for Euro-sceptics in 2007.

The Europe question had been a point of debate among UK politicians for years, but never anything more.

In 2018, Britain is standing on the brink of economic suicide for the sake of those all-important blue passports and taking back sovereignty that had never been lost.

What was that about 2007 being a simpler time?  

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France Football Announce New Under-21 Award With Top Players on Judging Panel & Women’s Ballon d’Or

?France Football have officially launched the Kopa Trophy to recognise best players in the world under the age of 21, as well as the Women’s Ballon d’Or award to crown the number one female player on the planet, taking their place alongside the longstanding men’s Ballon d’Or.

The Kopa Trophy, which is named for the late Real Madrid and France legend Raymond Kopa and can be likened to the existing similar Golden Boy award established by Tuttosport in 2003, will be voted for by every living former winner of the Ballon d’Or.

La Liga 2017-18 - Real Madrid vs Sevilla FC

The oldest is Barcelona and Inter legend Luis Suarez, but that list also obviously includes Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, as well as Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Marco van Basten, Michel Platini, Franz Beckenbauer and others.

“The birth of the Ballon d’Or is a step closer to the evolution of our sport, which is progressing well,” Lyon Feminin and France defender Wendie Renard told France Football.

“It’s a step forward, women’s football is evolving and inequality is shrinking even though there is still room for improvement.”

Veteran Brazilian superstar Marta added, “I’ve always wanted to see a woman win this prestigious award. It is a step towards more equality to see such a reward, as important in the world of football, to be also awarded to the players.”

France Football has chosen to announce the launch its first ever Women’s Ballon d’Or on the same day that FIFA is hosting the Best FIFA Football Awards in London.

FIFA has presented a women’s award since 2001, rebranding the former FIFA World Player of the Year as Best FIFA Women’s Player in 2016 for the creation of the FIFA Best Football Awards, the result of the split between FIFA and France Football over the men’s Ballon d’Or.

FC Barcelona v Athletic Club - La Liga

FIFA has attempted to trump France Football in each of the last two years by bringing forward its annual gala, previously typically held in January, to October and now September so that it takes place before the Ballon d’Or is announced in December.

Ballons d’Or for both men and women and the Kopa Trophy will be presented on December 3rd.

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Barcelona vs Girona Preview: Classic Encounter, Key Battles, Team News & More

?The fifth round of La Liga sees Catalan rivals Girona and ?Barcelona battle it out at Camp Nou, with both teams having got off to great starts in the league so far. 

While Girona have won their last two games, having previously drawn to Valladolid and lost at the hands of Real Madrid, Barcelona remain unbeaten, and will surely be looking to reclaim top spot in La Liga after Los Blancos’ win on Saturday.

UEFA Champions League'FC Barcelona v PSV'

The fact that Girona currently sit sixth in the table is testament to their capability, however, their Catalan rivals will surely be the largest challenge yet faced. If Girona are able to secure a victory it will prove a monumental boost in the coming games.

Barcelona come into the game off the back of a decisive 4-0 victory over PSV Eindhoven in the Champions League. This, in addition to their solid league record, means that they arrive on Sunday in fine spirit and great form.


Classic Encounter

Whilst not the most iconic Catalonian derby, with this being only the third time these two teams have faced off in La Liga, tension will nonetheless be in the air on Sunday as both teams look to continue their good form.

UEFA Champions League'FC Barcelona v PSV'

Yet, this clash may prove to be classic, in that 5,000 Girona fans have been offered free tickets for the Camp Nou fixture, in light of the fact that their home clash in 2019 is set to be played across the Atlantic in Miami, an unprecedented event in European football.

With tensions between Barcelona and the Spanish FA still high, doubts over whether this American tie will take place have already arisen. If it is successful however, then La Liga may gain a huge following in the high Spanish-speaking Florida.


Key Battle

?Lionel Messi vs Pedro Porro

Girona frontman Cristhian Stuani has scored three in his last two games, making him a threat on the front foot.

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However, Girona have been somewhat sloppy with the aggressiveness of their defending. In their last game, Celta Vigo equalised through a free kick from just outside their box, whereas two penalties were conceded against Real Madrid.

Barcelona will also be sure to capitalise on Girona’s seeming uncertainty in dealing with balls being crossed from out wide. With wingers such as Messi and Dembele, the current league leaders will prove difficult opponents to defend against.


Team News

At Camp Nou, Brazilian midfielder Arthur has missed group training ahead of the game on Sunday, but may still be up for contention. 

Other than this, there are no real injury concerns for Barcelona, but playing in both La Liga and the Champions League on a regular basis is draining, with seven matches in three weeks suggesting that Valverde may make some changes ahead of Sunday evening.

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Colombian full back Johan Mojica looks set to miss the clash for Girona, still suffering from an injury picked up in training at the start of August.


Potential Barcelona Lineup: Ter Stegen, Semedo, Pique, Umtiti, Alba, Arthur Melo, Busquets, Coutinho, Messi, Suarez, Dembele.

Potential Girona Lineup: Bono, Alcala, Bernardo, Juanpe, Porro, Granell, Luiz, Aday, Portu, Garcia, Stuani.


Prediction

Barcelona look set to add to their collection of wins so far this season and Girona may struggle to contain the attacking threat of such a giant squad.

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The only silver lining for Girona, however, lies in the prospect of some of Barcelona’s big names being rested after their recent Champions League action.

If the defence can resist long enough for the attacking threat of Garcia, Stuani and Portu to be realised then they may stand a chance. Ultimately though, this chance will be fairly slim.

Prediction: Barcelona 2-0 Girona  

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Barcelona 2-2 Girona: Report, Ratings & Reaction as 10-Man Barca Fight Back to Salvage Draw

?Barcelona dropped their first points of the season after drawing 2-2 against their Catalan neighbours Girona on Sunday evening.

Despite going ahead early on through Lionel Messi, things took a turn for the worse for Barca when Clement Lenglet was given his marching orders for a raised elbow, following a VAR referral. 

FC Barcelona v Girona - La Liga Santander

Christian Stuani scored a goal either side of half time to put the visitors into the lead, before Gerard Pique managed to head home midway through the second half to salvage a point for his side.


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Key Talking Point

It’s difficult to accurately gauge a side’s performance when they are forced to play the majority of a game with ten men, but it is fair to suggest that ?Barcelona didn’t adapt quickly enough to their changed circumstances.

FC Barcelona v Girona FC - La Liga

Both of Girona’s goals were easily avoidable and Ernesto Valverde’s decision not to immediately bring on Samuel Umtiti as soon as Lenglet was sent off came back to haunt him.

On the balance of play Barcelona probably deserved to win, but individual mistakes at a delicate point in the match ended up costing them.


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Ter Stegen (6); Semedo (6), Pique (5), Lenglet (5), Alba (6); Busquets (6), Arthur (6), Vidal (7); Messi (8*), Dembele (5), Suarez (7).

Substitutes: Umtiti (6), Rakitic (6), Coutinho (7).


Star Man – Another game, another stellar performance from ?Lionel Messi.

The diminutive forward was doing everything he possibly could to win the match for his side and on another day he could have easily picked up a handful of goals. He had to settle for just the one on this occasion, but his current form suggests that another huge goal scoring season is on the horizon.


Worst Player – He might have notched a goal to draw his side level, but ?Gerard Pique was all over the place for both of Girona’s goals.

He was caught flat footed for the first and was far too weak and far too slow to deal with Portu for the second. More and more mistakes are creeping into the Spaniard’s game and that may start becoming a real concern in the future.

Clement Lenglet escapes judgement on account of the fact that his red card seemed extremely harsh.



Looking Ahead

Barcelona now turn their attention to an away fixture against Leganes on Wednesday evening before returning back to the Nou Camp to face Athletic Bilbao on Saturday.

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