Lionel Messi, Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Neymar have all been named in the 23-man shortlist for the 2013 Ballon d'Or although departed Barcelona head coach Tito Vilanova has been shockingly omitted from the shortlist for the Best Coach award
Wales winger Gareth Bale
joins Lionel Messi
and Cristiano Ronaldo
among the leading contenders for FIFA's Ballon d'Or award. The 23-man shortlist for the prestigious world player of the year award was announced early on Tuesday morning, with the winner - voted for by coaches, captains and journalists - to be unveiled on 13 January in Zurich.
There was something different about this Barça-Madrid, something that made it feel like a new chapter*, like the story had shifted. To where exactly, we didn't yet know. After 17 clásicos in three years, games seemingly every day, everyone had waited eight months for this one. The ballboy had gone the previous year, now the translator had too; that particular rivalry departing with them, the rivalry momentarily orphaned. For the first time in a decade, both teams had new managers. Cristiano Ronaldo and Leo Messi were still there of course, but they had new stars too.
When Barça fans head to the Camp Nou every fortnight or so to watch a league match, not only do they know that they are guaranteed tremendous football, but they can also be fairly certain that their team is going to win. All twenty of Barça’s last home fixtures have ended the same way: with the home team taking all three points. In these games, the Barça fans have been able to celebrate 73 goals, an average of 3.65 a match, and have only leaked 17, just 0.85 per game.
Highly-rated Germany goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen is flattered by reported interest from Barcelona
but insists his focus is on doing well for Borussia Monchengladbach. Asked about the links with Barcelona and the possibility of him one day playing in Spain, Ter Stegen told Catalan newspaper Sport: "I don't know, right now I'm focused on Borussia, which is the most important thing for me. I owe this club, which I've followed since I was little and this now is the main thing. It's nice to hear that interest exists, but that's all I can say at the minute. I'm happy to be in Monchengladbach and we'll see what happens."
Getafe owner Angel Torres has revealed that Barcelona turned to Michael Laudrup before appointing Pep Guardiola
in 2008. Torres wanted to keep the Dane at Getafe, but the 49-year-old had made his mind up to leave once he knew of interest from Barca, although they eventually turned to Guardiola. "Laudrup decided not to go with us because in the spring of 2008 (he) spoke with (then Barca director of football) Txiki Begiristain," Torres is quoted as saying in an extract of forthcoming Danish book about Laudrup 'A Gentleman in New Clothes', which is being serialised in Mundo Deportivo. Initially Barcelona wanted (him to) replace (Frank) Rijkaard, that is what the president (Laporta) wanted. "
Barcelona playmaker Xavi has hailed England goalkeeper Fraser Forster
as a 'world-class' talent, and reckons he'd be a perfect fit at the Nou Camp. 'I think the players all know about the Forster interest - and it is a player we know very well,' said Xavi. 'I can't say that I watch him every week - but when we have played Celtic he has shown that he is a world-class goalkeeper. From what I have seen he has everything to succeed at a club like Barcelona - and with his Champions League performances for Celtic I am sure there will be more than one big club interested in him.'
Cristiano Ronaldo lashed out at Sepp Blatter on Tuesday night after the Fifa president mocked him for having "more expenses for the hairdresser" than Lionel Messi. Ronaldo reacted angrily to Blatter expressing a preference for Messi over him in a video clip which also shows the Swiss performing an impression of the Real Madrid
Fifa president Sepp Blatter has written a letter of apology to Real Madrid president Florentino Perez over comments mocking Cristiano Ronaldo. "I want to clarify that for me Cristiano Ronaldo is at the same level as Messi and they are both outstanding players, each in their own way. Sorry that this situation produced in a university event hurt as much and I apologise for it," he wrote. "It was never my intention to embarrass or disrespect to Real Madrid, or one of their players or their fans."
Barcelona took first place in the AP global soccer poll Tuesday following its 2-1 win over Real Madrid, and Liverpool striker Luis Suarez
earned top player honors. Goals from Neymar and Alexis Sanchez helped Barcelona win the first "clasico" of the season and move six points ahead of Madrid in the Spanish league.
Athletic Bilbao ended Getafe's run of four straight wins and climbed above them into fifth place in La Liga when Aymeric Laporte's early bullet header secured a 1-0 win at the Coliseum in Madrid on Monday. An entertaining game played at frenetic pace was decided in the eighth minute when Laporte met Markel Susaeta's corner and powered the ball past Getafe goalkeeper Miguel Angel Moya.
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