El Clásico in mind-numbing slow motion
You know how they say football is a game won and lost in the margins? Watch. This illustrates exactly what those fine margins are. (great find by our friends at The Shin Guardian)
Fans of Hertha Berlin and Real Madrid arrive for a friendly between the two teams.
Lionel Messi has been the Ballon D’or winner for the last two years
Taking a scrutinizing look at the list of finalists for the most coveted individual award in football
It’s that time of year again,the time when FIFA releases it’s shortlist of players eligible to receive an award that is as ambiguous as it is prestigious. Such ambiguity is of course an allusion to the confusion over the time frame that is considered when awarding the Ballon D’or (the 2011 calender year or the 2010-2011 season).
The answer to that question, like many surrounding football, remains unclear, but what has become even more astounding is the way in which the unveiling of these yearly shortlists present a perfect opportunity to conduct a Saturday Night live like series of questioning. The urge is simply irresistible, I mean really FIFA?
Last year when Andres Iniesta was included as one of the all Barcelona 3-man group of finalists, a man who had barely played for his club team down the home stretch of the season, over Wesley Sneijder, a player who was at the center of a treble winning Inter Milan side and all before leading Netherlands to the World Cup final, I thought this award could not get any more comical. Alas, it has.
Perhaps it speaks to the lack of truly exceptional talent that is on display in today’s age, but seeing names like Karim Benzema, Eric Abidal, Diego Forlan, Thomas Muller, and Dani “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” Alves hardly makes the words “best player in the world” spring to mind. As for Cesc Fabregas, can anyone dispute the idea that last season was a disappointing one for him? But perhaps there were no better players to include in the list, perhaps players like Robin Van Persie, Thiago Silva, and Luka Modric were deemed unworthy of a place on this thoroughly assembled selection of players. Or perhaps I’m just being facetious in an attempt to delay my one true assessment. This shortlist for the 2011 FIFA Ballon D’or award is a joke.
FIFA Ballon d’Or men’s shortlist: Éric Abidal (France), Sergio Agüero (Argentina), Karim Benzema (France), Iker Casillas (Spain), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal), Dani Alves (Brazil), Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon), Cesc Fàbregas (Spain), Diego Forlán (Uruguay), Andrés Iniesta (Spain), Lionel Messi (Argentina), Thomas Müller (Germany), Nani (Portugal), Neymar (Brazil), Mesut Özil (Germany), Gerard Piqué (Spain), Wayne Rooney (England), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany), Wesley Sneijder (Netherlands), Luis Suárez (Uruguay), David Villa (Spain), Xabi Alonso (Spain), Xavi (Spain).
Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images Europe
What do you think about the FIFA Ballon D’or?
Summing it up perfectly. The list is ridiculous. The inclusion of players like Alves and Benzema and the lack of players such as van Persie (the shining light at Arsenal last year), Thiago Silva (the rock who made Milan the best defence in Serie A) and Götze (the rising superstar who helped propel Dortmund to the Bundesliga title) or even Neuer who many were proclaiming the next best goalkeeper in the world after his sensational performance with Schalke in the Champions League.
But we all know this list is a mere formality. Messi is going to win it, even if Cristiano Ronaldo is a tad more deserving in my opinion due to his 40 goal haul, and Özil should get the third place spot due to being the leader in assists in Europe last year, but it will probably go to Xavi and Iniesta again.
As for the Coach of the Year awards, the inclusion of Wenger is a joke; Arsenal were sub-par last season and have been pretty awful this season. Whilst the exclusion of Allegri is furrowing my brow as both a Milanista, plus the fact that Milan dominated Serie A last year. Dortmund boss Klopp should win it in my opinion, bringing together a group of talented youngsters and breaking Bayern’s strangle hold on the Bundesliga, but it will probably go to Guardiola or del Bosque (whose world cup win was over a year ago). Heck, even Villas-Boas would be a fine choice for what he did with Porto.
Don’t get me wrong, though. Messi thoroughly deserves it seeing as though he is the best player in the world at the moment and will be right there with Maradona and Pele in the “greatest ever” argument in years to come, it is just a shame that the rest of the list is so farcical.
When Cesc Fabregas moved from Arsenal to Barcelona, nobody was surprised. It was the worst kept secret in football at the time. I follow neither club and yet I still had an in depth opinion on the Spanish midfielder’s return to alma-mata of sorts. Xavi and Iniesta, amongst other Barça stars, had been making what seemed weekly trips to the press office to tell Cesc to “come home” for a good year before it happened. When it finally happened, I felt relieved to know that I wouldn’t have to be objected to any more “Xavi says Cesc wants out at Emirates” or “Iniesta says Fabregas wants Barcelona move”.
Another persistent rumour, and one that seems much less likely to materialise, is the constant inferring of Kaká’s return to the San Siro. I want it to happen, I am a milanista and have a poster of Kaká adorning my wall, my favourite football video of all time is that amazing goal against Manchester United, I would love nothing more than Kaká to return to Milan… but it isn’t going to happen. The entire reason he left was because Milan couldn’t match the wage offers of Madrid, there is no reason why Kaká would take a pay cut to return - and it would have to be a considerable one, considering the wages of players such as Ibrahmiovic and Robinho. And although Kaká is flawless, handsome, kindhearted and talented, there is a considerable depth at midfielder at the moment, including hat-tricksters Prince Boateng and Nocerino. In short, Kaká is not returning to Milan. Not soon, at least.
Another rumour that seems to have been reborn, and the one that sparked me to write this piece, is the apparent Corinthians move for out-of-favour (to say the least) forward, Carlos Tevez. There was a reported offer of some forty million Euros being floated before the transfer window closed, and now there is a supposed sixteen million offer for the Argentine’s return to the Sau Paulo club, according to Corinthian’s president Andres Sanchez. However, the Brazilian side’s director has other things in mind, claiming that it would not be favourable to upset the apple cart with an unstable player.
Whether it is to Brazil, Spain, Italy or even Russia, Mancini has made it clear he does not want Carlos Tevez, so this “rumour” may talk itself into reality much as the Fabregas story did, and maybe I can hold out hope for a Kaká return to Milan or even a switch to the rossenerri for one of my other favourite players…
Thats the thing with rumours, though. You never know which ones are true and which ones are just wasting up print space that could be devoted to the flawless Kaká.