2018 round-up: 5 best moments in football

2018 round-up: 5 best moments in football

It’s been a roller coaster of a year for football. The footballers teased the fans into thinking something magical would happen, only to get swept by their wonderful displays.

There are more stories of struggle, triumph and history in the beautiful game than most people can remember at the end of 2018. As the new year is here, Khelpanda looks back on the 5 best and most significant moments in football during the last 12 months.


Arsene Wenger quits Arsenal after 22 years

                        Image Credit: Getty Images

Wenger stepped down as coach of Arsenal at the end of the 2017/18 Premier League season. The Frenchman was one of the longest-serving managers in the history of European club football, leading the Gunners to three league titles and seven FA Cups over the course of his 22 years at the helm. He also oversaw one of the most iconic seasons in English football history – the 2003/04 season in which the club were unbeaten over the league campaign, winning 26 and drawing 12 of their 38 games.

Also Read: Top 10 youngsters who shine in 2018


Roma’s historic comeback against Barcelona

                  Image Credit: AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Barcelona entered the second leg of their quarterfinal clash with Roma in a comfortable position. The Catalans had not lost a match in domestic or Champions League match all season and had not tasted defeat in 18 straight matches, including a 4–1 thrashing of Roma in the first leg of the competition at Camp Nou. But Ernesto Valverde’s side came out flat-footed, allowing a sixth-minute goal to Edin Dzeko on a brilliant Daniele De Rossi long pass. De Rossi doubled Roma’s lead shortly after half-time from the penalty spot and defender Kostas Manolas finished a beautiful header past Marc-Andre ter Stegen late in the game to dramatically propel Roma to the semifinals with a 3-0 win.


Champions League, Real Madrid win three in a row

                            Image Credit: Getty Images

Real Madrid are the most successful team in the history of the Champions League and they made yet more history in May 2018 when they became the first team to win the trophy three times in a row in the modern era. Real won the European Cup four years in succession in the 1950s, while Bayern Munich and Ajax each won it three times in a row in the 1970s. AC Milan won it twice in a row in the late 1980s, but notably, no club had managed the feat since the adoption of the new format in 1992. Los Blancos blew Liverpool away in the Kiev final, easily beating the Liverpool 3-1 in Cardiff, with Gareth Bale scoring twice.


Mbappe the hero, as France win World Cup

                               Image Credit: AFP

Kylian Mbappe shone as France won the World Cup in Russia, scoring a majestic double against Argentina and a strike from outside the box against Croatia. He was clearly nowhere near an unknown, having already cost Paris St-Germain £165.7m, but it was the summer that Mbappe really showcased himself on the world stage as the man most likely to replace Messi and Ronaldo as the best. The now 20-year-old has carried that form into this season, with 13 league goals in 11 games. Only Lionel Messi has scored more in Europe’s top five leagues.


Luka Modric, the new Ballon d’Or

                   Image Credit: AFP

For ten years, the prestigious Ballon d’Or award in football kept changing hands between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. But 2018 was witness to a new winner, as Croatia’s Luka Modric got his hands on the title thanks to his stellar efforts in helping Real Madrid win a third successive Champions League title in May and also captaining his Croatia team to the World Cup final and being named the player of the tournament.

Ballon d’Or and Real Madrid, a gleeful ‘love story’

Ballon d’Or and Real Madrid, a gleeful ‘love story’

On Monday, Luka Modric became the latest Real Madrid player to win the prestigious Ballon d’Or award. The Croatian midfielder pipped his former Real Madrid team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo to the award as he continued the club’s domination of Ballon d’Or arena. Modric became the 10th Los Blancos player in history to lay his hands on the coveted prize.

Real Madrid does have a special relationship with the Ballon d’Or trophy. In fact, with Modric, there are already eight players who have the trophy they have played at the Bernabeu during the 21st century. Alfredo Di Stefano was the pioneer. The striker, who had a legendary period of success, winning the first five European Cups, received the Ballon d’Or in 1957 and 1959. He is also the only player to have been presented with the Super Ballon d’Or for the best player in European football history (1989). Kopa, who shared a dressing room with Di Stefano, took the trophy in 1958 to stamp the Madridsta authority over the award.

Figo, Zidane, and Ronaldo

Luis Figo won the award in 2000, as he closely followed Zinedine Zidane, who had won the prize in 98. The Brazilian Ronaldo, who won the first in 1997 repeated the feat in 2002. Though David Beckham, never won the prize, Michael Owen, who came to Madrid in 2004, three years after lifting it when he was the star of Liverpool. The small English striker, who did not leave a great memory in Santiago Bernabeu, became the fourth Madridista of the century to lift the prize.


Cannavaro, Kaka and the advent of Cristiano Ronaldo

In 2006 Real president Florentino Perez signed Fabio Cannavaro after his star show at the World Cup in Germany. As happened with Figo or Ronaldo, the year ended with the award for the Italian. His successor in the Madrid club, Kaka, came to the Bernabeu two years after being named the best in the world in the ranks of Milan. Cristiano Ronaldo also knew what it was like to pick up the Golden ball award in 2008, but his signing for the Whites gave him four more Balls and as many Champions League. Ten major accolades, for which he has gone down in history before leaving by the back door to Juventus last summer.


Luka Modric, the new ‘best’

With Luka Modric, Real touched the eighth player of the 21st century. His case is special because he has been for more than five years in this Madrid side. Four Champions League, some wonderful displays in La Liga and the key figure for Croatia in the World Cup, Luka is perhaps the most genuine winner of those who have played for Real. He arrived without being a big star and at 33 he becomes another reason for pride for Florentino Perez and the Los Blancos who always had a weakness for this trophy. To get an idea of the significance of Madrid in this award during this century, it should be remembered that only four players have won in the last two decades without going through the Bernabeu’s local dressing room. Nedved, Shevchenko and the Barca players Ronaldinho and Messi.

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.”

Ballon d’Or: Luka Modric really deserve it in 2018

Ballon d'Or: Luka Modric really deserve it in 2018

There are some players who rule the fans without shrillness or voices, but only with time and with the weight of their football. Luka Modric is one of them. 

Luka Modric tells his fans at Madrid through football, using that diminutive stature, and the Madristas do express complicity and love towards their midfielder. The fact is, that his talent is worth a lot, so much, so that on December 3rd, he is favorite receive the Ballon d’Or that states him as the best player of this year, ahead of Varane, Mbappe or Griezmann, the world champions with the French team, or Cristiano Ronaldo, the last winner.


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The Ballon d’Or may surely follow the same path, what had already been announced by ‘The Best’ award granted by FIFA, as there was no one better than Modric in the last 12 months. After the Russia World Cup year, it is difficult to compete against the champions, but the Croatian’s feat of reaching the final match in Russia with his country has been rewarded with individual prizes to regard him as the best player. Modric commanded the team and for journalists around the world of the magazine that gives the most prestigious individual prize, that has had more value than those who won the final.


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The unfounded suspicion was that a French publication made it clear to do everything possible to reward a French footballer, the year they returned to conquer the world championship. Varane, despite being a defender, is one of the favorites; European champion with Madrid, in titles he could compete with Modric; Mbappe is the young promise of French football and one of the players called to lead this team in front; but with PSG he had not won any international title the rest of the year.


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Griezmann also has the hopes with the victory of the World Cup, the victory in the Europa League. And Cristiano Ronaldo dreams of breaking the tie with Messi in Ballon d’Or. With the triumph, Luka Modric may end an era in which the Portuguese and the Argentine forward have reigned in the individual awards because their quality was several heads above the rest. The victory of Real Madrid midfielder opens the door to many players, who have long been waiting to take a step forward.

2018 was a good year for Messi in the Champions League, but the defeat in Rome, without him doing anything to avoid it, took away any possibility. The role of Cristiano Ronaldo was very prominent in the eighth and in the quarters of the Champions League, with that goal of the tournament against Juventus, but his presence in the semifinal and in the final was discreet. Modric is more vibrant than both, though has fewer goals, but occupies far more covers than the two stars. So this year, his class has been recognized above both. 2018, it is the really the ‘Modric’ year.


Real Madrid | Los Blancos have their backs against the wall

Real Madrid | Los Blancos have their backs against the wall

La Liga 2018/19: Not the start Real Madrid were hoping for!

Real Madrid – Post Ronaldo have not looked great this season but the loss of the Portuguese superstar cannot be made a reason for their poor form in this season of La Liga. Real Madrid have now gone almost seven hours without a goal and are winless in their last four games. Madrid are unable to live up to their expected high standards or rather they aren’t even close to that. They certainly started the season well, but as the days went by the Los Blancos looked duller by the day. 

Kroos and Modric in poor touch for Real Madrid

The problem with Real Madrid is not solely because of the poor form of the strikers but also the poor form of their midfield stalwarts Modric and Kroos. Kroos has gone six games without a win for both club and country and most recently scored a penalty for Germany, one that was their only goal in their loss to World Champions France. It has been almost 540 minutes since the German last experienced a victory and this is undoubtedly one of the poorest runs in his career. He clearly lacks the solidarity and the precision passing in the midfield and it has shown to have a great affect on the way Madrid play. 

The same can be said about his midfield partner Modric. His side has not scored a goal in the last five games which adds up to 499 minutes. Modric and Kroos are two of the worlds best midfielders and when a team is spoilt with masterful midfield performances throughout the years, it is only natural that their poor form leads to their teams’ poor form. 

Real Madrid – The Team

After the departure of Ronaldo, there seems to be a different aura about the players in and around the team. Real Madrid are finally a team now. They are a team that is not about one man and his laurels but about the laurels they achieve together as a team. No offence to Ronaldo who is one of the best in the World, but his departure from Madrid might not be such a bad thing after all.

Real Madrid are a team filled with Champions in every single position on the pitch and the trademark of a Champion player is that he never knows when he is truly beaten. It wouldn’t be long that the same people criticizing the performances of the Madrid team will be in awe of what they are capable of doing on the pitch. This is the best time however, for the European Champions to bounce back as they face Levante in the La Liga on Saturday 4:30 PM IST, a match that will be the true test of their character. 

Real Madrid 0 – 1 CSKA Moscow | UEFA Champions League Highlights

Real Madrid 0 - 1 CSKA Moscow | UEFA Champions League Highlights

Real Madrid faces defeat against Russian side CSKA Moscow in a surprising UEFA Champions League match that ended 1 – 0.

Head Coach Julen Lopetegui started the game with Luka Modric on the bench while Gareth Bale and Sergio Ramos missed out due to injury.

Nikola Vlasic‘s early goal settled CSKA Moscow‘s shocking victory over European champions Real Madrid on Wednesday. Vlasic benefited from a Toni Kroos mistake to fire a left-footed shot into the bottom right corner past Keylor Navas in the 2nd minute. Thereafter the Moscow players defended firmly and even endured the odd injury-time sending-off of goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev.

Toni Kroos tried to redeem himself but only managed to fire a shot straight at the opposition stopper Akinfeev, then Dani Ceballos headed just wide of the target from Marco Asensio‘s cross as Real Madrid displayed some fighting spirit. However, Madrid’s unusual defensive weakness surfaced again when Fedor Chalov had a chance stopped in the box and Nikita Chernov headed a decent chance wide from the following corner kick.

Casemiro came close to combining with Varane’s header beyond the face of goal as Madrid started to press, and the defensive midfielder almost got them level just before the half-hour mark when he hit the inside of the left post with a strong right footed shot from outside the box.

Akinfeev kept a Dani Carvajal shot from a difficult angle out just five minutes before the break and Los Blancos hit the bar for the second time in the first 40 minutes when Karim Benzema released a strong header to hit the woodwork.

Dani Carvajal came off due to injury just before the break, while Luka Modric replaced Casemiro on the hour-mark. Kroos came close yet again through a long-range effort that fizzed to the right of the target. With the score still 1-0 in Moscow’s favor, the game was extremely frenzied for the last 10 minutes.

Luka Modric headed a close-range effort just wide of the target and Mariano Diaz rattled the woodwork again, the third time for Real Madrid, in the 90th minute. Igor Akinfeev was bizarrely sent off for a plausible disagreement in the 96th minute, allowing teenage goalkeeper Georgi Krynats to play a small role in a game which ended up as one to remember for the Russian side.

Real Madrid faces Deportivo Alaves in their La Liga fixture on Saturday, 6th October before hosting FC Viktoria Plzen in their third Group G match in the UEFA Champions League on 24th October.

Also read: Real Madrid 0-0 Atletico Madrid | Goalkeepers Thrive In Goalless Draw

Real Madrid 0 – 3 Sevilla | La Liga 2018/19

Real Madrid 0 - 3 Sevilla | La Liga 2018/19

Real Madrid faced a disappointing 3-0 defeat through the hands of Sevilla in the La Liga on Thursday.

Real Madrid suffered their first loss in La Liga under new coach Julen Lopetegui and missed the chance to benefit from Barcelona‘s shock 2-1 defeat at Leganes.

Portuguese striker Andre Silva gave Sevilla the excellent start against Real Madrid, finding the net from close range in the 17th minute after a miscommunication between Real’s Brazillian defender Marcelo and his international teammate Casemiro.

The AC Milan loanee pounced on an opportunity just four minutes later after poor goalkeeping from Thibaut Courtois, netting his second of the match and his 6th for the season, taking the top spot of the scorers’ list of the Spanish league.

Although Gareth Bale almost pulled one back for Real, his shot struck the post letting the hosts keep their clean sheet. 

Franco Vazquez also attempted score but failed as his shot hit the bar as well. But in-form striker Wissam Ben Yedder scored in the 39th minute, rounding off an exceptional 4th consecutive home league win for the Spanish side.

Real’s wretched night continued as recently crowned The Best FIFA Men’s PlayerLuka Modric had a goal ruled out for offside following a lengthy consultation with the Video Assistant Referee (VAR). Marcelo also came off injured, endangering his chances of playing in Sunday’s derby against neighbors Atletico MadridThe timing of Marcelo’s injury also went against Real, who had to play the final 20 minutes of the match with 10 men as Lopetegui had already made the maximum of three substitutions for his side.

Sevilla ultimately took the 3 points through their three first-half goals to pull off a shocking victory against the European Champions.

Sevilla faces Eibar on Saturday, 29th September while Real Madrid faces Atletico Madrid on Sunday, 30th September for their next La Liga fixtures.

Luka Modric wins FIFA Best mens player, Marta picks up the Women’s award

Luka Modric wins FIFA Best mens player, Marta picks up the Women's award

Real Madrid and Croatian Midfielder, Luka Modric picked up the Best men’s player award while Brazilian International, Marta was named as the best Women’s Player. Modric was touted to win the big award after having almost a near-perfect Season with both Club and Country. The Croatian led his Nation to the FIFA World Cup Final, though the Croats finished as Runners-up Modric was awarded the Golden Ball in Russia. With Real Madrid, Modric went on to win his 4th Champions League title against Liverpool and remains the fulcrum of the Los Blancos’ Midfield.

Modric has broken Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi’s dominance at the FIFA Best Players awards which goes all the way back to 2007 when Brazilian International Kaka had won the award. It’s commendable that Modric won the award as a creator, as a midfielder, and has broken the trend of only Forwards taking the award home. Modric beat 5-time winner Cristiano Ronaldo and Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah to the award incidentally, Modric beat Salah and Ronaldo to the UEFA Player of the Year award as well.

Modric looked absolutely thrilled upon receiving his coveted prize and the 32-Year-Old said “This award is not just mine. It is my team-mates from Real Madrid and Croatia. Without my coaches, I would not have won this and without my family, I would not be the player I am today,”

Modric’s Croatia Manager Zlatko Dalic showered his Captain with praise and went on to call Modric “my assistant in the field”. Dalic further added “Luka Modric is the captain of my team, he’s the best player in my team and in the world, and he deserves this award,”

Modric Thoroughly deserved this award and it’s good to see a refreshing to see all types of players being appreciated. Luka Modric is the best player in the World and no he doesn’t need to bang in 40 Goals a Season to prove that and you know why? because While Messi and Ronaldo find the back of the net it’s a player like Modric who creates those opportunities, week-in-week-out. 

FIFA Puskas Award 2018 – Mohamed Salah

FIFA Puskas Award 2018 - Mohamed Salah

Mohamed Salah’s goal against Everton in the Premier League last season was voted as the best goal of the year, in The Best FIFA Football Awards Ceremony last night. Salah beat Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo to win the award and this raised many eyebrows. Gareth Bale was heavily tipped to win this award for his acrobatic overhead kick against Liverpool in the Champions League final, a goal that gave Real Madrid the lead. Ronaldo also scored a stunning overhead kick against his current team Juventus in the semi-finals of the Champions League, a goal that was also awarded the UEFA goal of the season. In a total, there were 10 goals that were nominated but Salah’s Merseyside derby goal was selected and announced as a winner in a ceremony on Monday night.

The goal saw Salah shrug off two players on the right-hand side of the penalty area before curling in a beautiful effort into the top corner of the net from an improbable angle to give Liverpool a 1-0 lead in their Premier League tie against Everton last year. The game, however, finished in a 1 – 1 draw as Wayne Rooney equalized with a penalty later on after a controversial decision from referee Craig Pawson.

For Salah, it was a remarkable debut campaign for Liverpool since his arrival from Roma last year. He scored 44 goals for the Reds in all competitions and was also nominated for the FIFA Best Men’s player of 2018, which he lost to Real Madrid and Croatia stalwart, Luka Modric who thoroughly deserved the award. The other goals nominated for this year’s Puskas award included Benjamin Pavard’s thumping effort in France’s World Cup last 16 clash against Argentina, a strike which went on to be chosen as goal of the tournament. World Cup strikes from Portugal’s Ricardo Quaresma and Russia’s Denis Cheryshev were also nominated.

Real Madrid 1 – 0 Espanyol | La Liga 2018/19

Real Madrid 1 - 0 Espanyol | La Liga 2018/19

Marco Asensio proved to be the difference as Real Madrid sealed a hard-fought victory against Espanyol in the La Liga.

Julen Lopetegui‘s team destroyed their Champions League competitors Roma at the Bernabeu in midweek but lacked the same flow in their game against Espanyol. Marco Asensio scored the only goal of the match just before the break.

Real Madrid‘s star forward Gareth Bale was an unused substitute on Saturday as Lopetegui alternated his squad.

Isco fluffed Real’s first opening when his mistimed shot drifted at the wrong side of the post in the 5th minute. Espanyol then missed a golden chance just after as Hernan Perez and Pablo Piatti combined inside the box, only for the latter to pull his low effort wide of Thibaut Courtois‘ post.

Luka Modric‘s ventured shot from the edge of the box bounced through the legs of the visiting defenders straight to Asensio, who drilled a low angled shot in off the far post in the 41st minute to score his first goal of the season. Even after this goal, they were far from convincing against the persistent visitors.

Real went in search of a second goal to kill the match, however, they failed to find the net again. Modric’s low driven shot was amazingly saved from the bottom corner by Diego Lopez, while Isco and Casemiro both went close to making it 2-0 with a couple powerful attempts from outside the box.

Espanyol continued to look threatening when given a little chance. Borja Iglesias‘ shot was blocked by Courtois and a minute later the Espanyol forward hit the crossbar with another shot from outside the penalty area after Real skipper Sergio Ramos failed to clear the danger at the back. Ramos occasionally suffered in defense but was almost rewarded by a goal for his ability to surge forward when his header from Isco’s cross drew another excellent save from Lopez.

Real Madrid face Sevilla in their next La Liga fixture on Thursday 27th, September.