Ballon d’Or – and the winner is…….. Cristiano Ronaldo.

The prestigious Ballon d’Or awards were held in Zurich last night, as FIFA announced who would be named World Player of the Year.

Following votes from international captain’s, coaches and journalists, the nominess were wittered down to just three. The battle to be the best in the World had begun. Would it be Cristiano Ronaldo, Franck Ribery or Lionel Messi?

Ballon d'Or nominees


Lionel Messi has won the past four awards, and the last person to win before that was Ronaldo, way back in 2008, when he led Manchester United the the League and European double.

With Ribery the driving force behind Bayern’s stunning year, he was also in line to win the Ballon d’Or, he would have been the first Frenchmen to win it since Zinedine Zidane in 1998. But first a look at the winners of the other awards that were presented last night.

The legend that is Pele won the first ever Ballon d’Or Prix d’Honneur, which honours players of yesterday year that were not able to win the award due to it only being available to European players back when they played.

The Women’s FIFA Player of the Year was German Goalkeeper Nadine Angerer, becoming the first Goalkeeper to win the award.

The FIFAPro team of the year was as followed

Manuel Neuer, Dani Alves, Sergio Ramos, Thiago Silva, Phillip Lahm, Xavi, Andreas Iniesta, Franck Ribery, Cristiano Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Lionel Messi.

Whilst the Coach award of the year was fought out between ex-Bayern manager Jupp Heynckes, the retired Sir Alex Ferguson and current Borussia Dortmund. In an award that was surely relatively straight forward, Jupp Heynckes was named as the best for the year, as he led Bayern Munich to the treble, the first of its kind for German sides.

Which leads us to the main prize. From one of the greatest to another, Pele would be the man to deliver the announcement on who would be crowned the best in the world 2013. That player is indeed the man from Madeira, Cristiano Ronaldo. Following on from years of watching the little Argentinean claim the prize, Ronaldo finally got his hands on the Gold Sphere. A mammoth 69 goals in 59 appearances helped him to win the award.

A tearful Ronaldo made his speech thanking his wife, son and teammates for helping him to achieve all he had in the past 12 months. Perhaps they were tears of joy, or maybe tears of relief, one thing that is certain was his determination to win over even his fiercest critics to reclaim a prize he first won back in 2008. He showed four years worth of tears in that one moment.

He now joins an elite list of players to have won multiple Ballon d’Or awards.

So as he embarks on a World Cup year and another 12 months with Real Madrid, he can look back on 2013 as his year. Viva Ronaldo indeed.

Dominic Hanley’s #Team2013

With 2014 so nearly upon us, I have been tasked with saying who I think deserves to be recognised as the best team of the calender year. Following the unbelievable year Bayern Munich had, there is no less than six players that have made my #Team2013. Obviously everyone has different opinions, and it has been extremely tough to chose just 11 players.

So here it is….. playing in a 4-1-3-2 formation

Goalkeeper – Manuel Neuer 1. Neuer

Germany and Bayern’s undisputed number one. There was never really going to be anyone else that could warrant the number one spot. Names such as Buffon and Casillas will jump forward, though Casillas has hardly been a feature with Real Madrid this year. David De Dea has been ever improved, whilst Thibaut Courtois and Roman Weidenfeller also deserve a mention.  But Neuer gets the nod, purely because Bayern won everything that was placed in front of them, and conceded little in doing so. Put simply, he is the best in the world right now.

Right Back – Phillip Lahm 2. Lahm

More recently seen playing a holding role for the Bavarian giants, but normally used as a full back or wing back, Phillip Lahm has been outstanding this past year, as he has been the majority of his career. Perhaps the best full back in the World currently, he will be hoping he can captain Germany to World Cup glory this coming summer.

Notable mentions – Dani Alves, Lukasz Piszczek

Centre Back – Thiago Silva  3. T.Silva

An absoulte rock for club and country, Thiago Silva is rightly considered one of the best centre backs in the World. Winning the French Ligue 1 with Paris St Germain, which was their first league title since 1994, and winning the Confederations Cup with Brazil in the summer, topped a great year.

Centre Back – Dante 4. Dante

Signed from Borussia Monchengladbach to help stabilise a shabby defence, as has often been said in football, it is important to build from the back and to have a strong spine for the team. Dante has been an important part of the team that won everything last year, and has deservedly been called into the Brazilian squad. Whilst he may already be 30, he has matured into a great centre back.

Left Back – David Alaba 5. Alaba

Whether sitting back defending or marauding down the left wing, David Alaba, definitely deserves inclusion for his part in Bayern’s all triumphant year. After missing out on the final the year before because of suspension, Alaba came back even stronger the year after and made the left back position his own. Still only 21, Alaba has a long career ahead of him and you would be hard pressed to find someone that believes he isn’t destined for a successful one.

Notable mentions – Leighton Baines

DM/CM – Bastian Schweinsteiger 6. Schweinsteiger

A deep lying playmaker is perhaps the best way to describe “Schweini”. He began his career as a winger before moving into his current central role. With is ability to pick out his wingers and strikers, his work rate and general technical ability, Schweini is a fans favourite at Bayern. Whilst injury may have derailed the end of this year for him, expect him to be back to his consummate best come the new year.

Notable mentions- Sergio Busquets, Michael Carrick, Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal

RAM – Franck Ribery 8.Ribery

Another Bayern star gains inclusion in to the #Team2013. This time it is French winger Franck Ribery, perhaps Bayern’s best player over the past year. Never too far from controversy, Ribery is an explosive winger, who has perhaps just had his best ever season. Arjen Robben could well argue for inclusion, but Ribery tips it for me. In a season where everything went right for the man, Ribery has delighted all at the Allainz Arena and was a major force in helping Bayern, win three major trophies, plus a fourth one in the form of the UEFA Super Cup.

Notable mentions – Arjen Robben, Marco Reus

LAM – Cristiano Ronaldo 9. CR7

No shock here, Ronaldo takes up the opposite flank to Ribery. What more is there to say about the man? He continues to astound, easily the best player in the world in 2013, surpassing Messi, if Ronaldo wins the Ballon d’Or this year he fully deserves it. As a player he has everything, speed, power, technical ability, pace and that is to name a few of his strengths. Expect more from the best next year.

Notable mentions – Gareth Bale, Thomas Muller

CAM – Lionel Messi 10. Messi

Well he has to be in here, doesn’t he? A team of the year without Messi, is merely unthinkable, so of course here is the little Argentinia, taking his place alongside Ronaldo and Ribery. Another great year, where only injury has curtailed the end. Another La Liga title to add to his ever expanding trophy cabinet, yet one would feel he will not be winning the Ballon d’Or this year. Still he warrants a place on my list.

Notable mentions – Juan Mata, Mesut Ozil

ST – Robin Van Persie 11. RVP

Now, there are perhaps eight or nine strikers that could warrant a place on this list, but I have chosen Robin Van Persie as one of my two strikers. My reason for this is the way he adapted to life at Manchester United in a heartbeat and was the catalyst for the club to win it’s 20th title. He played in every league game last season, where he scored 26 goals, finishing the season as top scorer. He is an important fixture in the United side and his recent injury has seen the club fail to win in the last three.

ST – Zlatan Ibrahimovic9. Ibrahimovic

A man of many talents, Ibrahimovic’s 2013, has been of high class. Winning yet another league title in his already illustrious career, Ibrahimovic led Paris St Germain to the Ligue 1 title and to within touching distant of the Champions League semi-finals. Unfortunately the year will end on a bit of a low note, for Zlatan, as Sweden failed to reach the World Cup, following an aggregate loss to CR7’s Portugal. He can still look back on a great year though.

Notable mentions – Falcao, Robert Lewandowski, Edinson Cavani

So there you have it. My team of 2013. No doubt plenty of you may well disagree, well please comment below with your thoughts.

Thanks for reading

Ballon d’Or shortlist has been released.

The annual Ballon d’Or shortlist has been unveiled, with the usual names prevalent on the list.

One name that has been included is Gareth Bale. He has so far flattered to deceive at Real Madrid, mainly due to injuries, but is present on the shortlist, thanks to his stunning form for Tottenham Hotspur.

Below is the full list

Gareth Bale
Edinson Cavani
Radamel Falcao
Eden Hazard
Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Andres Iniesta
Philipp Lahm
Robert Lewandowski
Lionel Messi
Thomas Muller
Manuel Neuer
Mesut Ozil
Andrea Pirlo
Franck Ribery
Arjen Robben
Cristiano Ronaldo
Bastian Schweinsteiger
Luis Suarez
Thiago Silva
Yaya Toure
Robin van Persie

The managers list has also been released. One would feel that there can only be one winner this year following his retirement and that must be Jupp Heynckes

Carlo Ancelotti
Rafael Benitez
Antonio Conte
Vicente Del Bosque
Sir Alex Ferguson
Jupp Heynckes
Jurgen Klopp
Jose Mourinho
Luiz Felipe Scolari
Arsene Wenger

Could this be the top three again?

Could this be the top three again?