FIFA Ballon d’Or 2016 – The Race Is On

Already, the race for the FIFA Ballon d’Or 2016 (starting January 01st) is heating up. Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Neymar Jr., Cristiano Ronaldo are currently the favourites to win the big trophy.

So far and while most of the football world is on international duty, we can take a look at individual and collective statistical for each one of them and create a prediction on who might win the big prize next January (in bold, the best statistic for each category).

Lionel Messi is the current title holder – 22 games. 25 goals. 10 assists.

Cristiano Ronaldo – 17 games. 17 goals. 6 assists.

Luis Suarez – 20 games. 18 goals. 12 assists.

Neymar Jr. – 19 games. 11 goals. 6 assists.

Robert Lewandowski – 15 games. 13 goals. 1 assist.

FC Barcelona and Bayern Munich are currently on course for a treble winning season meanwhile Real Madrid is ten points behind the Catalan giants at the top of Spanish league, was disqualified from the Spanish Cup for fielding a suspended player, but are still alive in the C.L.

It will be interesting to see until the votes by the 209 managers and captains of their national team and a selected journalists from each country are counted sometime in November, but if everything goes according to the current statistics and trophies to be won, Lionel Messi should collect his unprecedented sixth Ballon d’Or next January.

Stay tuned…

Champions League Curse – Can FC Barcelona break it in 2016?

This is the question that the football world will be asking as we move towards the Champions League final held in Milan, this May. Since the introduction of the current format in 1992, replacing the former European Cup, not a single club has been able to repeat (winning the trophy twice a in a row). While it was not uncommon to see this feat done in the past with teams winning two, three, four and even five times like Real Madrid, it has been somewhat of a different scenario now. All have tried, all have failed.

AC Milan won the trophy in 1994 against F.C.Barcelona 4-0 and then lost against Ajax Amsterdam 1-0 the following year.

The same fate happened to Ajax who lost in 1996 against Juventus FC on penalty kicks in the 1996 final.

Juventus FC also tasted the same medecine with defeats in the 1997 final against Borussia Dortmund 3-1 and the following year vs. Real Madrid 1-0. The German champions were eliminated in the semifinals in 1998 against the Spanish giants.

Real Madrid won in 1998, 2000 and 2002, therefore never being able to do it back-to-back.

AC Milan won the trophy in 2003 an 2007 while losing in the 2005 memorable final against Liverpool on penalty kicks in Istanbul.

FC Barcelona proves to be another example by being crowned champions in 2006, 2009, 2011 and 2015. They were always winners in the final, but could not reach it a second time in a row.

Bayern Munich won the Champions League in 2001 against Valencia and in 2013 against Borussia Dortmund but suffered defeats in the 1999, 2010 and 2012 finals.

All of the above just goes to show how difficult it has been for clubs, even the greatest and most talented ones, to achieve success year and after year. No one has succeeded so far. Can FC Barcelona, led by Messi, Neymar and Suarez, do it this year? The answer in the next few weeks.

Stay tuned…

Manchester United and José Mourinho

Manchester United have been looking at the past few years since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson with disappointments. “The Chosen One”, David Moyes, was not able to bring glory to the Red Devils. His successor, Louis van Gaal, the current manager, is struggling to win over the fans and the media on his side with the club not doing as well as expected despite the amount of money spent to bring back trophies at Old Trafford. Players such as Juan Mata (M), Angel Di Maria (M/W), Daley Blind (D/M), Anthony Martial (F), Memphis Depay (W/F), Marcos Rojo (D), Luke Shaw (D), Ander Herrera (M) and a few others have been brought in the past few years, but the club has not won a single piece of silverware since an FA Community Shield triumph over Wigan by the score of 2-0 in August 2013 (at the beginning of David Moyes’s era) thanks to a brace by former star striker Robin van Persie.

Here comes José Mourinho. The Portuguese manager has been out of a job since leaving or being sacked for a second time by Chelsea F.C.. The native of Setúbal, has not found work since and there is growing speculation that he might be the favourite man to take over Louis van Gaal at Old Trafford at the end of the season. With Manchester City hiring Pep Guardiola earlier this season, the Red Devils may feel like it has to respond and despite a club legend, namely Ryan Giggs, gaining experience on a regular basis next to the Champions’ League winning Dutch coach as his assistant, the hierarchy at Manchester United might find it tempting to respond to their arch rivals by renewing a past rivalry involving both managers once at Real Madrid and FC Barcelona.

It should be an interesting story unfolding in Manchester and if the Red Devils decide to sign the Portuguese manager, it will surely set up some fireworks in months if not years to come.