The Best FIFA awards

Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images

Klopp joins Common Goal, will donate 1 percent of salary

Leave a comment

Jurgen Klopp has joined the Common Goal Initative, pledging 1 percent of his salary to disadvantaged youth around the world.

Klopp made the announcement after winning the top honor for men’s manager at FIFA’s The Best awards ceremony on Monday.

[ MORE: Messi win’s men’s honor, City shut out ]

He joins Megan Rapinoe, who was honored as FIFA’s top women’s player, and a host of others including USWNT star Alex Morgan, RB Leipzig manager Julian Nagelsmann, and San Jose striker Chris Wondlowski.

“As a team, even with a minimum pledge of just 1%, together the football industry is capable of transforming the world,” Klopp said. “Now is the time for those interested to take a step forward.”

Generous move from a classy man.

Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata launched the Common Goal Initiative in 2017, describing why in a Players’ Tribune post.

Deconstructing (and reconstructing) FIFA’s silly Best XI

MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP/Getty Images
3 Comments

Over the weekend, following David Silva chipped in his latest goal for Manchester City, I found myself Tweeting whether he’s the most overlooked superstar in Premier League history.

After Monday’s unveiling of the FIFA Best XI at The Best awards ceremony, I started to wonder whether another Man City player deserves that title on a more short-term basis.

That was one issue with the XI, which was head-scratching at best. Yes, international play also plays into this, but 3.5 Real Madrid players on the team is an absolute joke (They were a mess, finished third in La Liga, and left the Champions League in the Round of 16 against Ajax).

[ MORE: Messi win’s men’s honor, City shut out ]

And Eden Hazard over all Premier League attackers and the entire Bundesliga’s offensive force? He was great, but come on.

Here’s the team FIFA honored:

  • Alisson Becker (BRA) – Liverpool
  • Matthijs de Ligt (NED) – Ajax / Juventus
  • Sergio Ramos (ESP) – Real Madrid
  • Virgil Van Dijk (NED) – Liverpool
  • Marcelo (BRA) – Real Madrid
  • Luka Modric (CRO) – Real Madrid
  • Frenkie de Jong (NED) – Ajax/Barcelona
  • Eden Hazard (BEL) – Chelsea/ Real Madrid
  • Cristiano Ronaldo (POR) – Juventus
  • Kylian Mbappe (FRA) – Paris Saint-Germain
  • Lionel Messi (ARG) – Barcelona

Ridiculous, yeah?

Let’s go piece-by-piece and create an XI at the end.

The Trident plus One: Messi, Mbappe, Ronaldo, and Hazard

Maybe Man City and Liverpool fall victim to their own greatness, and the sheer challenge it is to find room for a fourth world class attacker in a Best XI which would be insane to ignore Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe, and Cristiano Ronaldo for their on-field exploits.

But should we?

Let’s get two players out of the way immediately: Messi and Mbappe. Both were miles ahead of the competition as Nos. 1 and 2 last season. In comparable minutes, both outscored Ronaldo in league play by double-digit goals and Serie A

Both also had less productive tridents for most of last season (Neymar was out for most of PSG’s campaign, while Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho weren’t up to snuff alongside Messi and Suarez).

Anyway, that’s a bit of a digression.

Ronaldo’s good-enough season probably got him a career-achievement tiebreaker, and FIFA decided that Eden Hazard was an out-and-out midfielder in their team, so we’ll take some liberties in deciding whether he should’ve been a part of the team.

Should one of them, if not both, have been omitted? We’re here to say we’d like your chances of making the case. These are the league numbers for the four players we’re considering, leaving out Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane for now.

[ MORE: Rapinoe, Ellis headline women’s winners ]

Of the four, only Lewandowski had better than a pedestrian group stage in Europe compared to top level peers. The big Polish striker scored eight times, more than the total goals and assists of the others (Hazard was injured for most of the group stage). But like his Bayern teammates, he was unable to score against Liverpool in the knockout rounds.

Sterling is the one we read as underrated for the season he had, with Leroy Sane off his game and Kevin De Bruyne injured for a lot of City’s season. If any City man deserves a shout at the XI, it’s him.

The numbers for Salah and Mane are about even with the group, and Liverpool fans will want to see the team be all-Liverpool given their strong PL season and UCL title, but in our books we want a little better representation. If you want one of them in the fray, we’re taking out Alisson and putting in Ederson.

Feel free to do that mentally when you read our XI, and we’ll be fine with it. Heck, maybe we’ll even do it.

The ‘Real’ problem

So we’ve covered one Real player in Hazard, who legit deserves a shout at the XI.

Sergio Ramos is great, Marcelo is probably the best left-sided non forward of his generation, and Luka Modric has the worst Ballon d’Or in history (N’Golo Kante was better that year, as were Messi and Ronaldo. Committee got cute).

But should even one Real Madrid player be on the FIFA Best XI for the season? I mean, maybe Marcelo if you want true left and right backs, but the team isn’t that with Marcelo and three center backs. But he played in just 23 league matches and Andrew Robertson (who may not make our list because of representation).

What is a true Best XI anyway? It’s supposed to be representative of the season, so Marcelo has to be out. Modric shouldn’t be in there either, but at least he played a ton if you need to appease Real supporters.

Ramos is an interesting one, especially because he was one of the best center backs in the world last season. But he wasn’t as good as De Ligt or Van Dijk. And if you’re going to a back three, which we might want to for our XI, then Aymeric Laporte was better on a better team. And Gerard Pique had a better season than Ramos, too, as Barca won its league and went further in the UCL.

(Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)

Our XI

Before we go any further, shout out to Jan Oblak of Atletico Madrid. He’s incredible.

We’re keeping Alisson over Ederson, though that one is the one giving us the most pause. We’re removed Hazard for Kante to give our midfield a little beef.

The second most difficult decision was leaving out one of Salah, Hazard, and Sterling. There’s a UCL, UEL, and Premier League winner in there. And Sterling added two other domestic trophies.

We’re taking out Ronaldo in favor of Lewandowski, and admittedly the tiebreaker is because the latter has never won one, which is an absolutely travesty. Ronaldo also had his worst goals per game since he left Manchester United, and Serie A isn’t that far ahead of La Liga in goals-per-game.

What do you think?

Alisson (BRA/Liverpool)
De Ligt (NED/Ajax-Juventus)
Van Dijk (NED/Liverpool)
Laporte (FRA/Man City)
Kante (FRA/Chelsea)
De Jong (NED/Ajax-Barcelona)
Sterling (ENG/Man City)
Messi (ARG/Barcelona)
Salah (EGY/Liverpool)
Lewandowski (POL/Bayern)
Mbappe (FRA/PSG)

USWNT’s Rapinoe lauds Sterling, Koulibaly in acceptance speech

TIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Megan Rapinoe again used her pulpit to shine a light on worthy topics.

Awarded FIFA’s Best women’s player award on Monday in Milan, the USWNT superstar and two-time World Cup winner addressed two men’s stars who have faced racial abuse this year.

[ MORE: Five USWNT players make Best XI ]

After thanking her friends, family, and coach Jill Ellis, Rapinoe turned her attention to black stars from Manchester City and Napoli.

From the BBC:

“Some of the stories that inspired me this year, Raheem Sterling and Koulibaly their incredible performance on the field and their reaction to the disgusting racism they have to take.

“If we really want to have meaningful change, if everyone other than Sterling or Koulibaly was outraged, if everyone was outraged by the homophobia. We have such an incredible opportunity being professional footballers, so much success, an incredible platform.

“I ask everyone here, lend your platform to other people, share your success. We have a unique opportunity to use this game to actually change the world for better. I hope you take that to heart, do something, we have incredible power in this room.”

Rapinoe, Ellis win FIFA honors; Five USWNT players in Best XI

AP Photo/Antonio Calanni
1 Comment

Zero surprise here.

Megan Rapinoe has been named the Best women’s player Jill Ellis has been named the top manager in women’s soccer at FIFA’s The Best awards ceremony in Milan on Monday.

[ MORE: Messi win’s men’s honor, City shut out ]

Ellis led the USWNT to its second-straight Women’s World Cup this summer, the first boss to manage the feat (Germany won two-straight World Cups, but had Tina Theune and Silvia Neid at the helm).

Rapinoe made waves on and off the field during the USWNT’s spell-binding run to a second-successive title, its fourth in history.

The Women’s Best XI sees four of her teammates join her: Alex Morgan, Kelley O’Hara, Julie Ertz, and Rose Lavelle.

Three members of Women’s Champions League winners Lyon also make the list, as does top goalkeeper winner Sari van Veenendaal.

  • Sari van Veenendaal (NED) – Arsenal / Atletico Madrid
  • Lucy Bronze (ENG) – Olympique Lyonnais
  • Wendie Renard (FRA) – Olympique Lyonnais
  • Nilla Fischer (SWE) – VfL Wolfsburg / Linkopings
  • Kelley O’Hara (USA) – Utah Royals
  • Amandine Henry (FRA) – Olympique Lyonnais
  • Julie Ertz (USA) – Chicago Red Stars
  • Rose Lavelle (USA) – Washington Spirit
  • Megan Rapinoe (USA) – Reign FC
  • Marta (BRA) – Orlando Pride
  • Alex Morgan (USA) – Orlando Pride

Messi named FIFA’s Best men’s player; Best XI controversial

MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Lionel Messi is the winner of FIFA’s The Best men’s player, awarded Monday in Milan.

The prolific megastar beat out Liverpool’s Virgil Van Dijk and Juventus’ Cristiano Ronaldo for the honor.

All three, of course, were on the Best XI, though it was not without controversy.

[ MORE: Rapinoe, Ellis headline women’s winners ]

Premier League champions Manchester City had no representation on FIFA’s The Best XI, which comically included three Real Madrid players.

Champions League winners Liverpool followed up the Best Goalkeeper honor given to Alisson Becker and Best Manager nod to Jurgen Klopp with spots for Van Dijk and obviously  Alisson on the XI.

Real Madrid, La Liga’s third place side, put Sergio Ramos, Marcelo, and Luka Modric on the team, as well as Eden Hazard who spent most of the awards season with Chelsea.

Juve’s Ronaldo is joined by Matthijs de Ligt, who led Ajax’s long UCL run before leaving for Turin.

Kylian Mbappe helps shut the attacks of Man City and Liverpool out of the team. Not one player from Germany or the Bundesliga was named to the team.

  • Alisson Becker (BRA) – Liverpool
  • Matthijs de Ligt (NED) – Ajax / Juventus
  • Sergio Ramos (ESP) – Real Madrid
  • Virgil van Dijk (NED) – Liverpool
  • Marcelo (BRA) – Real Madrid
  • Luka Modric (CRO) – Real Madrid
  • Frenkie de Jong (NED) – Ajax/Barcelona
  • Eden Hazard (BEL) – Chelsea/ Real Madrid
  • Cristiano Ronaldo (POR) – Juventus
  • Kylian Mbappe (FRA) – Paris Saint-Germain
  • Lionel Messi (ARG) – Barcelona