Franck Ribery confident he’ll take home Ballon d’Or ahead of Ronaldo and Messi

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The three horse race to win the FIFA World Player of the Year award has heated up rather nicely in the last few months.

Lionel Messi was many’s favorite to win it once again, but then injuries have ravaged his progress in recent months and put him way down the pecking. Seeing his chance to grab the coveted trophy, Cristiano Ronaldo has been in sensational form this season scoring 32 goals in 22 games.

And then there’s Franck Ribery.

Leading Bayern Munich to every possible domestic trophy in Germany and then the UEFA Champions League title at Wembley last May. On top of that Ribery’s France made it to the World Cup, just, and his delightful dribbling and incredible work rate has seen him become Bayern’s go-to guy.

The 27-year-old Frenchman, who picked up the UEFA Player of the Year award ahead of Ronaldo and Messi in September, believes he should win world soccer’s biggest individual honor too.

“I am confident. I have done all I had to,” Ribery said. “If you look at my performances all year long, I have made the difference. I may not score in every match but I set the defenses on fire.”

As for the sizzling goalscoring form Ronaldo is showing this season, Ribery believes his displays shouldn’t be measured in goals.

“Ronaldo certainly scores more than I do,” Ribery said, “but we don’t have the same style.”

The Frenchman has a point, he’s game is more about creating gaps for others to exploit and when it comes to getting his name on the score sheet he’s nowhere near the numbers Ronaldo and Messi put up. In his last 65 games he’s only scored 24 goals but Ribery should not be brushed aside as an outsider in the Messi vs. Ronaldo debate.

On his day he’s good enough to compete with both star names but anybody who thinks Ronaldo doesn’t deserve this years Ballon d’Or, including Ribery himself, is absolutely bonkers.

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, if the Portuguese goalscoring machine isn’t officially crowned the best player on the planet, there should be uproar.

Sorry Franck, love your self confidence, but you don’t deserve this ahead of Ronaldo.

Defoe walks out Bradley Lowery, scores in England win

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Jermain Defoe’s friendship with terminally-ill Bradley Lowery has been special to watch unfold, and the Sunderland striker brought his little buddy to Wembley today.

Then he notched a match-winner.

Lowery walked Defoe out onto the field in a replica England kit before Sunday’s World Cup qualifier against Lithuania, and then Defoe scored his 20th goal for country.

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It was his first since 2013, the last year Defoe was called up for the Three Lions.

Here’s the goal, which was followed by a second-half Jamie Vardy tally as England stayed atop Group F with a 2-0 win over Lithuania.

Two Russian soccer fans stabbed in Serbia

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BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) Two Russian fans have been hospitalized with serious injuries after being stabbed following a friendly soccer match between Red Star Belgrade and Lokomotiv Moscow.

Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said Sunday police were looking for the knife-wielding perpetrators who attacked a group of Lokomotiv fans in downtown Belgrade late Saturday.

Serbian media reports said the Russian fans were attacked by supporters of Red Star’s rival Partizan Belgrade.

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The match, which Red Star won 2-1, was meant to promote Serbia’s traditional friendship with Russia.

Stefanovic says “nobody should think they could hurt the Serbian-Russian friendship” with such attacks.

Serbia has seen a surge of fan violence inside and outside stadiums. In 2009, a French football fan was fatally beaten in Belgrade.

VIDEO: Gerrard’s juggle and finish leads Liverpool legends past Real Madrid

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Scoring at Anfield doesn’t get old, especially when your name is Steven Gerrard.

The English midfielder was playing in a friendly match between Liverpool and Real Madrid “legends” on Sunday, when he delivered this tasty goal (and assists to Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler, and John Aldridge).

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Gerrard redirects a cross over a lunging defender and into a place where he can lash a goal home to put the Reds up 4-0. He dedicated his Man of the Match performance to club legend Ronnie Moran, who died earlier this week.

Real’s comeback came up just short in a 4-3 final, with Fernando Morientes, Ruben de la Red, and Edwin Congo scoring for the visitors.

On a Sunday waiting for the international matches to begin, Gerrard supplies a nice highlight for the rest of us (Extended highlights free on Liverpool’s site).

Ozil bristles at talk of Arsenal selling him

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Mesut Ozil is on international break, and bristling at reports that Arsenal is going to sell him.

The midfielder’s absence from the lineup last week had plenty speculating on his future, even more than usual. His contract expires in 2018, and several reports claimed he’d join Alexis Sanchez as players destined for elsewhere.

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Ozil was not called up by Germany, and has missed four of his last nine Premier League matches. Three of those were for illness, and he missed last week’s loss to West Brom with a hamstring injury.

From Metro:

“And you think Wenger tells the journalist before he tells me? Then I know him differently,” Ozil told German outlet Welt.

“I have a contract until 2018 in London and I feel very comfortable there. We’ll talk soon and then make a decision.”

Metro notes that Ozil also said he wants to win the Champions League, something that can only happen with Arsenal remaining in the Top Four. We suppose you could make snarky inferences from his “comfortable in London” phrasing, but we’ll leave it there.