Luka Modric wins Ballon d’Or 2018 in Paris

Luka Modric wins Ballon d’Or 2018 in Paris

Winner of the Champions League and the finalist of the Russia World Cup, the Croatian midfielder Luka Modric wins his first Ballon d’Or France Football. He finished ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo and Antoine Griezmann. 


After ten years of reign shared between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo (5 trophies each), the 2018 edition of the Ballon d’Or marked an end with the coronation of Luka Modric. Under the light, the elegant master of Real Madrid got the prize who looks like an ‘old-fashioned’ player, with his frail pace and gestures combining grace and efficiency. 

The first player in his country, Croatia, to win this distinction, Luka Modric has done better than Davor Suker. Suker, the only Croatian who has already been on the podium of the Ballon d’Or with his 2nd place in 1998, the former Real Madrid striker won the Champions League that year and played a major role in the third place of the Croatia at the World Cup, during which he finished top scorer (6 goals) and third place of the event.

Also Read: Modric – Golden Ball Winner | FIFA World Cup

He also won the Champions League that year with Real Madrid, but Luka Modric has raised the flag on the checkered flag at the World Cup, opening the doors of the final, lost against France (2-4). Author of a sparkling performance – punctuated by a sublime goal – during the correction imposed on Argentina in the group stage (3-0), the 33-year-old then showed his notch in knockout matches.

Also Read: UEFA Men’s Player Of The Season: Luka Modric

While missing a penalty in overtime against Denmark, Luka Modric met his responsibilities by turning his shot on goal against the Vikings, then against Russia, the host country in quarters. Elected player of the competition, Luka Modric took advantage of the premature eliminations of Ronaldo’s Portugal and Messi’s Argentina to receive the most prestigious individual competitions.

Seventeenth in 2016 (tied with Kroos and Payet), fifth in 2017, Luka Modric was ahead of the five-times winner Cristiano Ronaldo and Antoine Griezmann, world champion and winner of the Europa League. In his acceptance speech,

Modric said: “It’s a unique feeling. I am happy, proud and honored. I have sensational emotions at the moment that are really hard to describe in words. First of all, I would like to thank my team-mates and coaches at Real Madrid and all the people who work for Real Madrid, all my coaches at team-mates with the national team, all those who voted for me and of course, my family, my wife, and kids. They are fulfilling me as a person and helping me in all aspects to be successful as a professional. As a kid, we all have dreams. My dream was to play for a big club, to win important trophies. I dreamed about it, but the Ballon d’Or was more than a childhood dream for me and it’s a real honor and a privilege to hold this trophy tonight.”

 

Women’s Ballon d’Or

Ada Hegerberg of Lyon and Norway became the first ever winner of the female Ballon d’Or. Hegerberg joined Lyon in 2014 and since then she has helped the club complete three domestic doubles and win the Women’s Champions League in each of the last three seasons.

The striker has scored 157 goals in 125 appearances for Lyon and 38 goals for Norway in 66 games. In 2016 Hegerberg was voted as Europe’s best female player. There was a collective intake of breath from the crowd when French DJ Martin Solveig asked Ada Hegerberg if she would twerk just moments after she received the award. The question was beyond inappropriate, it was an absolute disgrace.

 

Kopa Trophy

Kylian Mbappe has won the inaugural Kopa Trophy, a new award given to the world’s best male footballer aged under 21. The Paris Saint-Germain striker was one of the stars in France’s triumphant World Cup campaign as Didier Deschamps’ squad emerged victorious at the Russia 2018 tournament.

Also Read: Kylian Mbappe – Young Player Of The Tournament | FIFA World Cup

With 32 goals in 56 games in all competitions for club and country in 2018, Mbappe beat fellow nominees including Liverpool full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold and Borussia Dortmund’s United States international Christian Pulisic.

“I am very happy to receive this award, This rewards a great year, which I realized thanks to all my team-mates at PSG and with the national team. I will never forget the adventure of the World Cup. It’s a good time to thank them. And it’s an extra motivation to keep working.”

Mbappe said at Monday’s ceremony.

“My next goal? It is to win everything. It will be with hard work and help from my team-mates.”

FIFA World Cup 2018: Top 5 Golden Ball Contenders

Top 5 Golden Ball Contenders

With the Quarter-Finals drawing to a close and the Semi-Finals knocking on our door, predictions for not only the coveted trophy but also for the Individual Honours have started coming in. So here’s our list of the top 5 contenders for the Golden Ball.

5. Kylian Mbappe (France)

A 180 Million euro move to PSG, 3 Goals in his Debut World Cup and he’s still a teenager. Kylian Mbappe is the Future of football, and the teenager has now proved his credentials at the global stage.  The French forward will have to contribute with assists as well because FIFA looks at all-round performance for this award.

4. Antoine Griezmann (France)

The Atletico Madrid striker has always been consistent for Les Blues, and the 2018 FIFA World Cup hasn’t been any different. With three Goals and one assist, Griezmann has been France’s best player and his performance against Uruguay sealed France’s berth in the Semi-Finals.

3. Harry Kane (England)

Kane is England’s star man and could very well take England to World Cup Glory. Six goals in the Tournament and with at least one more game to go Kane may very well find the net. Watch out for England’s ‘HurriKane’… It may come home after all.

2. Romelu Lukaku (Belgium)

Lukaku has been clinical in every game and has even proven his creativity in the last two games registering an assist and virtually creating Belgium’s crucial winner against Japan with his brilliant movement off the ball. 

1. Eden Hazard (Belgium)

Hazard has been nothing short of brilliant in this World Cup, he’s scored two goals and created two but these numbers don’t tell us the whole story. Hazard has been unselfish, composed and lead from the front, he has completed 20+ dribbles and has pulled the strings for this revolutionary Belgian side.

FIFA World Cup, Highlights: France 4 – 3 Argentina

Argentina VS France

France 4 – 3 Argentina, Highlights:

By being the most talented teenage footballer comes pressure, but with it comes the gift of making defenders look slow, and slow defenders look ridiculous. But at the end, last night was about bigger things than the first half demolition of Marcus Rojo. Kylian Mbappe had shattered the dreams of one of the greatest.

Mbappe’s incredible turn of pace that won France the penalty in the first half, saw him flash before our eyes just like the career’s of the host of defenders and midfielders he left behind. At the other end of the pitch, Lionel Messi tried all that he could to survive yet another opponent but was left stranded most often, Sampaoli playing him in a false nine role.

It would be woefully wrong to say that this match saw the passing of the baton from Messi to Mbappe, as it can only be said if someone is capable of dominating the opposition for more than a decade. But you can, however, imagine the reluctant acceptance in Messi as he led youngsters like Enzo Perez and Meza to compete with a talented generation of young Frenchmen with the likes of Kylian Mbappe and Osman Dembele who by the way didn’t even feature.

Messi has however done his best for his squad that was considered poor led by a head coach whose attitude towards playing attacking talent has only seemed to decline with time. Perhaps Messi’s last act as an Argentina international was to stroke the cross on to the head of Sergio Aguero at the back post for an Argentina goal that narrowed the margin to closer than it should have been. If he has to win the World cup and end the argument of who’s the greatest of all time, then he will have to do it in Qatar at the age of 35, which is not impossible but he will have to surround himself with teammates who have the same will and vigour as he does and individuals who are capable of winning the tournament as a team.

But this match wasn’t about Messi’s fairy-tale story but it was about the start of another, the story of a 19-year-old sensation who stood out when the best players didn’t. No teenager since Pele in 1958 has scored more than one goal in a World Cup match, but Mbappe wisely avoided comparisons afterward. “Let’s put this in context,” he said, “Pele’s another category”. His arresting talent will take him a long way and one day he may, like Messi, play in four World Cup finals. Although the one thing he will not be able to control in ten years’ time is whether the players around him are up to the task.

Key Stats:
1. France has qualified for two consecutive Quarter Finals for the first time.
2. Argentina are the first team to score at least three goals but still lose a World Cup match since the USSR vs Belgium in 1986 (3-4).
3. There were eight yellow cards in this match, equalling the most shown in a single game so far at the 2018 World Cup (also Belgium vs Panama).
4. This was just the fifth time Argentina have conceded 4+ goals in a World Cup match, and first since losing 0-4 to Germany in the 2010 quarter-final.
5. France scored with all four of their shots on target in this match. They’d scored three goals from 12 shots on target in the group stages.

Atletico makes triple swoop at France’s camp

Antoine Griezmann

Atletico Madrid announced the contract extension of their talisman Antonie Griezmann a week after he decided to stay at the club. The France international has signed a contract until 2023, alongside with his compatriot Lucas Hernandez. The ongoing talk between AS Monaco and Atletico Madrid also showed progress as Thomas Lemar has signed a deal with the La Liga side, even though he is yet to clear his medical test.

Three contracts were signed in the presence of Atletico’s chief executive Miguel Angel Gil Marin, France coach Didier Deschamps and people in charge of the French Football Association at Moscow.

Griezmann scored two of three goals in the final of the Europa League to bring the trophy to their new home, Wanda Metropolitano. He scored 29 goals and assisted 15 in the season 2017-18, playing an important part to finish his side ahead of their city-rival Real Madrid in La Liga. According to the football writer, Tom Coast the 27 years old extension comes with a hefty release clause of €200m.

Thomas Lemar is one of the best young talents in the world. He has decided to follow his club teammate Fabhino out after the Brazilian joined Liverpool in May. According to Spanish media, the deal of €70m will make Lemar the most expensive player in Atletico’s history.

Los Colchoneros has always been known for their defending ability.  Hernandez had a great season with Atletico that earned him a place in the World Cup. He will play a key role in the future of Atletico’s defense and is a perfect replacement for Juanfran who has been struggling with his injuries.

Antoine Griezmann snubs FC Barcelona

griezmann

France’s sensational striker Antoine Griezmann said three months ago that he will let the people his future before the world cup, and truly right on the opening ceremony day, his documentary was aired on a Spanish channel. The host won the match by destroying Saudi Arabia 5-0 but it was the Atletico Madrid’s star who gets the highlights of the day. In his documented video, Griezmann decided to stay and create history instead of becoming one at Barcelona.

“My fans, my team, MY HOME: Atletico Madrid.” Griezmann tweeted after the video with a picture of him standing in front of Wanda Metropolitano. Football expert Guillem Balague confirmed afterward that two videos were filmed with different ending one with I am staying and other vice versa. The Europa League winner who scored two goals in the final against Marseilles said he has some unfinished business with Athletic Madrid hinting towards Champions League title. In his presence, Atletico Madrid went on to the finals twice in 2013-14 and 2015-16 losing both times to arch-rivals Real Madrid on both occasions.

“I have decided to stay,” the 27 years old said in a long-winded documentary on Moviestar + which has got mixed of reaction from the football fans. On one side where Atletico Madrid fans who think of being taken for a ride, showed a sign of relief whereas it wasn’t a fun part for the Clues who were expecting the result otherwise.

Barcelona’s defender Gerard Pique who tweeted before the video was aired “I’ve got the popcorn, Let’s see what the movie is like” wishes him good luck for the future by adding to his tweet “You decided to stay in the @Atleti and I hope you go great this season!”

Former Real Sociedad striker said he is under no influence and 100 percent firm with his decision as he was at the time of joining Los Colchoneros. He also expressed his happiness to the Board for bringing in some quality players as of his countryman Thomas Lemar. The was seems to be pleased with his decision and said they are doing everything they can to keep The Red and Whites growing and hopefully can play the final of Champions League 2018-19 at home.

However, the Euro Cup 2016 finalist isn’t the only one in the history who has decided to stay with the club instead of moving on. A few of them such as Gianluigi Buffon, who was one of the few stars deciding to remain with the club back in 2005-06 when the Italian side was relegated to Serie B due to match-fixing scandal ending his career with 11 Serie A title and 4 Coppa Italia can be a perfect role model for the Frenchman. But there have been others such as David de Gea who couldn’t join Real Madrid 3 years ago due to a broken fax machine and from then hadn’t won the Premier League title whereas Madrid has gone to win Champions League all those years creating history without him. It is finally to the super striker on which side of the table he wants to see himself a few years from now.

Transfer Targets 2018/19: FC Barcelona

FC Barcelona Transfers

Barcelona Possible Transfers following Griezmann Snub.

Atletico Madrid star Antoine Griezmann snubs the move to Nou Camp came as a shock to the football world. Meanwhile, everyone is busy talking about his decision, Ernesto Valverde has begun his search for the possible spark which can lead them to the Champions League title. The Egyptian star Mohammed Salah is the first person who can make this strong side, stronger. The playmaker has scored 42 goals and assisted 14 for Liverpool this season. Though the value of Premier League top goal scorer has increased tremendously he is the man who can provide the pace to Valverde’s highly rated attack.

Photo by Clive Brunskill / Getty Images

Another important thing that is focused on by Barcelona is that PSG must raise €53m to avoid the penalty by Financial Fair Play. Taking it as an opportunity Barcelona Board has four players from PSG on its wish list. The list includes the Italian Marco Verratti, who was inquired by Barcelona last summer also. Adrien Raboit, Edison Cavani, and Angel Di Maria are the other names on the list.

The Ajax duo Mathis De Ligt and Frenkie De Jong who helped their team to reach the final of Europa League in the year 2016-17 have been reportedly unhappy with the board and wants to leave the club in summer. Both kids have a potential and Barcelona is planning to swoop the duo with an eyeing €95m  to secure the future.

The German shot-stopper has Marc-Andre Ter Stgen has shown his interest of playing with his international teammate Thiago Alcantara, at club level. The German midfielder left the club 5 years back to join the German Giant’s Bayern Munich. There can be chances that Valverde can use him as an additional defensive midfielder for the Champions League.

Further, the first season for Ernesto Valverde has come as a success as the Spaniard was able to win La Liga, just losing one match that too at the ending moments of the league. The France winger Ousmane Dembele was signed in the last summer window from Borussia Dortmund and Brazil’s Philippe Coutinho was signed in the winter window, in order to provide depth to the squad. Barcelona doesn’t need a huge transfer this summer but should utilize his on stars in a way that can help them the Champions League title.

Transfer news: Thomas Lemar set to Join Atletico Madrid

Thomas Lemar to Atletico Madrid

French International Thomas Lemar is in Russia as the Les Blues prepare for the World Cup that kicks off tomorrow. The Monaco winger has agreed to join Atletico Madrid from Monaco for a fee rumored to be in the region of 72 Million Euros plus bonuses. Atletico Madrid in a statement has confirmed that the transfer has been agreed in ‘Principle’ and the details will be ironed out in the coming days.

Fans of the French National team would be hoping the deal gets finalized before France takes on Australia on the 16th of June. Didier Deschamps will be hoping that Lemar doesn’t get distracted and the transfer talk has no impact on his game. The deal would not only excite Lemar but would also make France and soon-to-be Atletico teammate Antoine Griezmann. Griezmann was linked with a move away from Atleti and agreed to stay provided the club reinforce the squad with ‘Star Players’, I think it’s safe to say that Lemar fits that bill. It would be interesting to see how Lemar and Griezmann would link up at the Wanda Metropolitano next Season. 

Lemar’s signing is a crucial one for the Los rojiblancos, who lost wingers, Nicolas Gaitan (18 Million Euros) and Yanick Carrasco (30 Million Euros) to Chinese side Dalian Yifang. Lemar would be a welcome addition to the Atletico attack, an attack consisting of Diego Costa, Antoine Griezmann, and  Thomas Lemar is certainly one to look forward to.

FIFA World Cup 2018: France, who’s on that plane to Russia?

France Squad FIFA World Cup 2018

Predict France’s starting lineup for their first World Cup match in the comments below and stand a chance to win a replica of the official FIFA World Cup Ball Telstar!

Terms & Conditions*

France vs Australia
Kick-off Time: 03:30 pm (IST)

Note: All entries for the competition will have to be made by 10:30 AM on 16th June 2018, entries after the mentioned time will not be taken into consideration. Participants must leave their e-mail ID as well.

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Les Blues will be desperate to lift the World Cup this time, even more so due to their narrow defeat against Portugal in the 2016 Euro Cup. Didier Deschamps has made quite a few changes since their last major tournament including a vast majority of young in-form players.

 

FULL SQUAD

Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur), Steve Mandanda (Marseille), Alphonse Areola (Paris Saint-Germain)

Defenders: Lucas Hernandez (Atletico Madrid), Presnel Kimpembe (Paris Saint-Germain), Benjamin Mendy (Manchester City), Benjamin Pavard (Stuttgart), Adil Rami (Marseille), Djibril Sidibe (Monaco), Samuel Umtiti (Barcelona), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid)

Midfielders: N’Golo Kante (Chelsea), Blaise Matuidi (Juventus), Steven N’Zonzi (Sevilla), Paul Pogba(Manchester United), Corentin Tolisso (Bayern Munich)

Forwards: Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona), Nabil Fekir (Lyon), Olivier Giroud (Chelsea), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Thomas Lemar (Monaco), Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain), Florian Thauvin (Marseille)


SURPRISES 

Man City’s Aymeric Laporte, United forward Anthony Martial, and Arsenal forward Alexandre Lacazette missed out while in-form attacker Nabil Fekir, Marseille duo Adil Rami and Florian Thauvin make the squad.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Midfielders like Kante & Pogba will dictate the game in midfield supporting one of the best attacks in the world with world-class forwards like Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe, and Thomas Lemar whilst having alternative options like Olivier Giroud, Ousmane Dembele, and Nabil Fekir.

STRENGTHS

The French squad has a depth in the squad which is paralleled by only a couple of teams. The attack is the team’s biggest strength; the world-class quality of their front line will be a headache for all the teams who face Les Blues.

WEAKNESSES

While France does have an ultra-talented squad, most of the stars are very young and hence inexperienced and experience has always been a major factor in the competition.

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Also, Predict the starting XI for:

ARGENTINA 🇦🇷 GERMANY 🇩🇪

BELGIUM 🇧🇪

PORTUGAL🇵🇹
BRAZIL 🇧🇷 ENGLAND 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 SPAIN 🇪🇸

Ballon d’Or 2018: Who’s leading the race?

Ronaldo Messi Salah Neymar Griezmann

One of the most anticipated events in world football every year, the Ballon d’Or ceremony. Every year in December the world eagerly waits for the king of football to be crowned. Let’s take a look at few of the candidates who might be crowned next. Will it be another Ronaldo-Messi duopoly? Or will there be a new king?

5. Antoine Griezmann (Atletico/France)

The French superstar had a very productive season with Atletico as he helped the Los Rojiblancos win the Europa League trophy and guided them to the 2nd position in the La Liga. Griezmann registered a total of 29 goals and 13 assists in all competitions for his club this season.

Looking at his personal achievements for the club, Griezmann doesn’t boast as much as the other contenders on this list. But the upcoming World Cup is going to be a major factor which decides who takes the Ballon d’Or this year and with France looking like a major candidate to lift the cup this year. With most of the forwards not being guaranteed a spot in the frontline of France, Griezmann is one of the players who is assured to start for Les Bleus.

4. Neymar Jr. (PSG/Brazil)

With 27 goals and 16 assists in just 28 matches in all competitions for Paris Saint-Germain this season, Neymar had another prolific season, this time with a new club. His tally would most certainly have been better if it were not for his unfortunate injury which ended his season early, yet he managed to receive the Ligue 1 Player of the season award as PSG went on to win a domestic treble which included the Ligue 1, Coupe de France and Coupe de la Ligue.

Brazil is another team which could win the World Cup this year, and if that turns out to be the case, Neymar will surely jump up this list.

3. Mohamed Salah

Mohamed Salah broke numerous records this season as he scored 44 goals and assisted 14 for Liverpool. The 25-year old also earned numerous accolades such s PFA Player of the year, FWA Footballer of the year, CAF African Footballer of the year and he was named in both PFA and UEFA Team of the season. Even though Salah ended the season without a single trophy, he has been nothing but sensational this season.

Salah also scored the last-minute penalty which took Egypt to the World Cup, where he will look to guide them to a strong campaign.

2. Lionel Messi

Another year where Lionel Messi is a favorite to win the Ballon d’Or. The current holder of the Golden Ball (2014 Brazil) and five-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi had an immensely prolific season finishing ahead of Mohamed Salah and Cristiano Ronaldo as Europe’s top scorer. The fact that he performs like this every year is the reason that the fans are not going crazy about his 45 goals in 54 games for Barcelona. He finished the season with the domestic double winning the La Liga and the Copa Del Rey.

Messi must guide Argentina one step further than the previous World Cup in order to stake his claim to the Ballon d’Or this year.

1. Cristiano Ronaldo

After a slow start to the season, Ronaldo ended the campaign with an astonishing 44 goals from 44 games, level with Mohammed Salah and just one behind Lionel Messi, who had played more games. The talismanic forward inspired Madrid to their 3rd consecutive Champions League.

Even with the EURO 2016 trophy in their hands, the Portugal team is suffering from a severe lack of quality, compared to other European heavyweights. Hence, if Ronaldo manages a strong campaign in the World Cup for Portugal, he would undoubtedly leave his competitors behind.

FIFA World Cup 2018: Top 5 Contenders for the Golden Boot

Cristiano Ronaldo Lionel Messi Antoine Griezmann Thomas Muller Neymar

With the World cup inching closer every day, the excitement levels are rising and the predictions are coming in. So let’s try to predict who could be the most prolific goalscorer in Russia. Here are the top 5 Contenders for the Golden Boot in Russia.

5. Cristiano Ronaldo

Arguably the best player in the World ( Yes Messi, I know) ok let me rephrase, one of the two best players in the World and still 5th on the list? I don’t doubt Cristiano’s abilities, its the country that’s pulling him down, though Portugal is UEFA Euro Defending Champions, I don’t see them going further than the Round of 16 if they somehow manage a dream run, well then there is no stopping CR7.

4. Lionel Messi 

Ronaldo’s arch nemesis, the two players bring the best out of each other, but their National teams lack the same firepower. Messi’s ranked higher than Ronaldo only because Argentina has a much more superior attack and could progress further than Portugal. More games, more goals, its simple math.

Don’t take it personally Ronaldo fans.

3. Antoine Griezmann

France possesses a squad that can genuinely go all the way to that Final in Moscow and lift the coveted trophy. If that happens, without a sinew of doubt, we can say that Antoine Griezmann would’ve scored the most goals. He’s the best player in the France squad and could very well take them all the way.

2. Thomas Muller

I know what you’re all thinking, Muller’s good, but not exceptional compared to the other players on the list. But let me tell you something, the German is the only currently active player who’s scored 10 goals in World Cups, The German becomes an absolute beast in the tournament and could very well become the joint highest goalscorer in World Cups. Provided he breaches the 6 goal mark in Russia. (Former German International Miroslav Klose has 16 goals as at the top of the list!)

1. Neymar

All the bookies have listed Brazil as the favourites to lift the World Cup and I couldn’t agree more. The likes of Coutinho, Neymar, Jesus, Firmino, Willian and Douglas Costa makes for arguably the best attack in the world, along with a competent Midfield and an experienced Defense. Everyone has a good feeling about Brazil this time and if they do go on to with the coveted trophy Neymar will have to fire on all cylinders.