AP Photo/Frank Augstein

Best FIFA Awards 2018: Who won the hardware, made Best XI?

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Luka Modric won the Men’s Best Player award at Monday’s Best FIFA Football Awards show in London, capping off an extraordinary 2018 (a bit early, granted) for the Croatian who helped Real Madrid to a third straight Champions League title and guided his country to the 2018 World Cup final in the calendar year.

[ EFL CUP: Liverpool vs. Chelsea highlights this week’s 3rd round ]

“It is a great honor and a beautiful feeling to stand here with this amazing trophy,” he said in his acceptance speech. “First of all, I would like to congratulate Mohamed [Salah] and Cristiano [Ronaldo]. I am sure in the future you will have another opportunity to fight for this trophy.

“This award is not just mine. It is my teammates from Real Madrid and Croatia. Without my coaches I would not have won this. Without my family I would not be the player I am today.”


Marta won the Women’s Best Player award, for the first time in her legendary career, after leading Brazil to glory at the 2018 Copa America and scoring 13 goals to go with six assists for her NWSL side, Orlando Pride.

“This means so much. It is not only about Marta but it is about my teammates and women’s football.

“It is amazing. For me, it is most important to see women’s soccer grow up each year. If I keep doing well and that can help outside of the field too then I am happy.”


Didier Deschamps, who guided France to its second World Cup title this summer, won the Men’s Best Coach award.


Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah won the 2018 Puskas award for the best goal scored, upsetting Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale who each scored a stunning bicycle kick for Madrid in Champions League play last season.


FIFPro Best XI

Goalkeeper: David De Gea (Manchester United)

Defenders: Dani Alves (Paris Saint-Germain), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Marcelo (Real Madrid)

Midfielders: Luka Modric (Real Madrid), N'Golo Kante (Chelsea)

Forwards: Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus), Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain), Eden Hazard (Chelsea)


London-born actor — and apparent England superfan — Idris Elba took home the award for best- (or worst-, depending on personal preference) dressed.

What did we learn from the Premier League?

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What did we learn from the eight Premier League games on Saturday?

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Week 6 gave us plenty of gifts (noticeably lopsided wins) as three big boys eased to victory, while another stumbled.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Below is a look at the key takeaways.


Mohamed Salah shaking off some rust
He scored a tap-in against Southampton on Saturday and almost scored an audacious back heel, but there are signs that Mohamed Salah is still shaking off some rust after his shoulder injury at the end of last season. The Egyptian magician looked frustrated in a more central role against Saints with Roberto Firmino switched out to the flank. Salah scored a goal when offside late on and seemed to rush a few chances where last season he was calmness personified. Salah has scored three goals in the current PL campaign but he hasn’t quite looked himself thus far with Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino stepping up and delivering.

Jurgen Klopp won’t be too concerned about giving Salah a rest in the League Cup against Chelsea this week, especially with Xherdan Shaqiri impressing in a 45 minute cameo on Saturday too. Salah isn’t at his marauding best, as we pointed out following Liverpool’s win at Tottenham last week, but the fact that is the case and Liverpool have won their opening seven games of the season (in all competitions) is testament to how solid the rest of the team have been. At times last season you could accuse Liverpool of being a one man team. Not anymore. That’s a good thing, even if Salah isn’t firing on all cylinders. Liverpool changed up their system against Saints in the first half and Klopp wasn’t too happy with the way it was working so changed things back to a 4-3-3 in the second half. The team, and Salah, looked more comfortable in that system and ahead of a huge few weeks with games against Chelsea, Man City and Napoli coming up, the Reds are on fire. Even if their star man isn’t. Yet.


Wolves the real deal

They’ve played Manchester City and Manchester United this season and drawn with both 1-1. And on both occasions after those draws with the Manchester giants Wolves have felt a little hard done by that they didn’t nab all three points with David De Gea forced to make several key saves to keep Wolves at bay. Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men have brought in plenty of top class players over the summer, including Raul Jimenez, Rui Patricio and Joao Moutinho, and it was the latter who curled home a beauty after Jimenez’s layoff to grab Wolves a deserved point at United.

There is a serious debate to be had that the runaway winners of England’s second-tier last season could be one of the best newly-promoted teams in history. Of course, nothing will beat Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest who won the top-flight in 1978, the season after they were promoted. Wolves aren’t going to win the title this season but they have shown they can easily be the best of the rest in the PL and finish in the top seven. The depth in their squad is impressive and so too is the understanding of what Santo wants them to do each week. They have a settled squad littered with quality and a solid 3-4-3 system which suits them. Name a better newly-promoted team in the PL era. I’ll wait.


Tottenham ease the pressure. For now…

It has been a rough few months for Tottenham Hotspur. After three-straight defeats, they needed a response at Brighton & Hove Albion. They got it. Harry Kane‘s first half penalty kick and a second half strike from Erik Lamela got Mauricio Pochettino‘s men back to winning ways after plenty of critics suddenly poked their heads over the fence to tell them what has been going wrong. Of course, a lot of the issues at Spurs are nothing to do with Pochettino and his players. With no money spent on new signings this summer and a long delay to their new stadium at White Hart Lane, chairman Daniel Levy has a lot to answer for.

On the pitch, Spurs showed plenty of grit to get by Brighton in the pouring rain on the South Coast with the bright lights and the TV cameras fixated on their every move and waiting for them to slip up and lose a fourth-straight game. They were in control throughout, with the only moment of worry when Anthony Knockaert didn’t make the most of a glorious opportunity in the second half. After a narrow defeat at Watford, a loss to red-hot Liverpool by one goal and a late collapse against Inter Milan at the San Siro, the narrative around Spurs seemed to shift from ‘they’ll get it right and prove their doubters wrong’ to ‘well, that is it they’re finished’ in a matter of days. Pochettino’s side reminded everyone not to write them off and even though Kane and Co. don’t seem anywhere near their best (we can save the tiredness debate for another week), they did what they had to do to silence their doubters. At least for another few days.


Legends return: Sir Alex Ferguson and Clint Dempsey
It was wonderful to see returns for two legendary figures on Saturday who have both been struggling with health issues over the past few years. Firstly, Sir Alex Ferguson seems to have made a superb recovery from a brain hemorrhage in May which required surgery and time in intensive care. The most successful manager in British history returned to Old Trafford on Saturday for the first time since April and Fergie received a warm welcome back and looked emotional to return to Theatre of Dreams.

And another legendary figure (okay, not quite on Fergie’s level, but still a hero) returned to the Premier League with Clint Dempsey heading back to Fulham for their draw against Watford. Dempsey, 35, retired late last month and Fulham’s all-time leading goalscorer in the Premier League was on hand to head back to Craven Cottage to see his former team.

Deuce looked as chilled as ever and Fulhamerica is still going strong.

Liverpool stay perfect, ease past Southampton

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  • Liverpool win first 7 games of season for first time
  • Southampton are winless in 25 PL games vs. “top six”
  • Hoedt own goal, Matip header, Salah tap-in does damage

Liverpool eased by Southampton 3-0 at Anfield on Saturday, with Jurgen Klopp‘s side top of the Premier League after six wins from six to open the new season.

Wesley Hoedt‘s early own goal set them on their way, then Joel Matip’s header and Mohamed Salah‘s tap-in extended their lead.

Liverpool have now won their opening seven games in all competitions and sit top of the Premier League on 18 points, while Saints have five points from their first six games.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ] 

Saints started brightly as a move down the left saw Matt Targett cross but Liverpool cleared just before Long could get on the end of it.

But Liverpool took the lead in comical circumstances. Xherdan Shaqiri‘s cross deflected off Shane Long and then Hoedt before it trickled over the line.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Cedric Soares then denied Salah with a wonderful last-ditch tackle but from the resulting corner Matip nodded home to put Liverpool 2-0 up.

At the other end Trent Alexander-Arnold cleared just when it looked like Matt Targett would tap home at the back post, then Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg mishit a volley after a fine break from Saints down the left.

Salah was then set free by Roberto Firmino on the break and his audacious back heel squirmed inches wide of the far post, but right on the break Salah did score. Shaqiri’s free kick smashed the crossbar and Salah was on hand to tap home and make it 3-0.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Shaqiri was replaced by James Milner at half time as Liverpool were content with their 3-0 lead. Occasionally the Reds looked dangerous on the break but Southampton had most of the ball.

That said, Mark Hughes‘ side didn’t do much with it.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Late on Sadio Mane raced in on goal but couldn’t get his touch right but the game was done and dusted after a clinical first half display.

PL AT HALF: Stars shining across six 10 a.m. ET kickoffs

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We’ve seen goals, goals, goals across five of six Premier League matches which kicked off at 10 a.m. ET on Saturday.

[ MORE: Fulham draw Watford ]

There’s a lone nil-nil in the bunch, and that one’s offered promise of finish as well.

Manchester United 1-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers

A sensational first touch pass from Paul Pogba (see above) and a low drive from Fred have the Red Devils leading at Old Trafford.

Leicester City 1-1 Huddersfield Town

The struggling Terriers took a surprising early lead, but Kelechi Iheanacho had the score line before the break.

Liverpool 3-0 Southampton

The Saints were unable to use Liverpool loanee Danny Ings, and the attack is struggling to do anything while the Reds have goals from a Xherdan Shaqiri-prodded own goal for Wesley Hoedt and a follow-up marker from center back Joel Matip.

Mohamed Salah scored in stoppage time after a Liverpool free kick rang off the cross bar and bounced on the goal line for the Egyptian to deposit in the goal.

Cardiff City 0-3 Manchester City

Moments after Cardiff nearly found a shocking way into the champions’ goal, it was Sergio Aguero who restored order for Manchester City. Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan added goals before halftime.

Crystal Palace 0-0 Newcastle United

Chances for both sides at Selhurst Park, though the Eagles are holding control of it.

Burnley 2-0 Bournemouth

Matej Vydra and Aaron Lennon score two minutes apart to give Turf Moor a delightful halftime break.

Top Premier League storylines for Week 6

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
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Six Premier League teams faced midweek European contests, with different degrees of success and effort expended by their stars.

[ STREAM: Watch every PL match live ]

Spurs and Man City lost, while Manchester United and Arsenal posted easy wins. Chelsea didn’t have its best finishing boots but won while resting Eden Hazard, and Liverpool won despite a rough night for its best player in Mohamed Salah.

How will that affect the sides when they face decided underdogs this weekend in England and Wales?

Slumping Spurs head south to stop the rot
Brighton and Hove Albion vs. Tottenham Hotspur — 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBC STREAM ]

Three-straight losses for Spurs under Mauricio Pochettino; Not something we’ve ready too often, or at all. But the Tottenham boss admits his slumping team could use a break that isn’t coming, especially in the case of Harry Kane. Brighton hasn’t taken it easy on anyone this season, but can be broken down and is coming off a pair of 2-2 ties. Goals at the Amex?

Chelsea returns from Greece for London Derby
West Ham United vs. Chelsea— 8:30 a.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN STREAM ]

Eden Hazard and David Luiz were able to rest while Alvaro Morata and Chelsea produced plenty of chances but only one goal at PAOK on Thursday. West Ham had some marvelous moments in attack in getting Manuel Pellegrini a much needed win against Everton last week, and won’t be thinking of anything other than a result when the Blues come back to England for Sunday morning’s kickoff.

Everton hopes to take advantage of weary Arsenal
Arsenal vs. Everton— 11 a.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN STREAM ]

Meanwhile, many of Arsenal’s stars rested or played subs roles in Thursday’s defeat of Vorskla Poltava. And the Gunners were home for that tilt, where they’ll remain for the visit of Marco Silva‘s Toffees. Everton gets Richarlison back from his red card suspension, and hopes that will help a season that went from “unbeaten in four” to “one win in five” with last week’s loss to West Ham.

Liverpool aims to stay perfect vs. rising Southampton
Liverpool vs. Southampton — 10 p.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN STREAM ]

The 5-0 Reds overcame a blown 2-0 lead against Paris Saint-Germain at midweek, and now will face a Saints side which will be missing its top striker (Danny Ings is ineligible due to Liverpool being his parent club). It’s a match that screams trap game, if only because it’s that hard to imagine Saints getting much from Anfield.

Portuguese bosses match wits at Old Trafford
Manchester United vs. Wolves — 10 a.m. ET Saturday on NBC Gold STREAM ]

Jose Mourinho’s men are playing well, with captain Paul Pogba almost certainly the best player on the pitch in a pair of recent wins over Young Boys and Watford. Enter Wolverhampton Wanderers, who are playing some attractive football under Mourinho’s countryman Nuno Espirito Santo. This one has the earmarks of a beauty, assuming Mourinho continues to play attack-minded football. Is that too much of an assumption, given the busy week for his Red Devils?