Saturday, December 26, 2015

Georgie's Premiership Predictions December 26 2015

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Focus this Boxing Day is on Manchester United's game at Stoke City. The Red Devils have lost their last three games and desperately need a win to ease the pressure on under-fire manager Louis van Gaal, who walked out of a press conference at Old Trafford earlier in the week when questioned about his future.

Chelsea face Watford at home with new interim manager Guus Hiddink now in charge after the sacking of Jose Mourinho.

Second place Arsenal take on Southampton after beating Manchester City 2-1 on Monday. Liverpool face leaders Leicester City at Anfield in what will be a stern test of the Foxes' title credentials.

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Stoke 2 v Man Utd 1
Aston Villa 1 v West Ham 1
Bournemouth 2 v Crystal Palace 3
Chelsea 2 v Watford 0
Liverpool 2 v Leicester 2
Man City 2 v Sunderland 0
Swansea 2 v West Brom 1
Tottenham 2 v Norwich 1
Newcastle 1 v Everton 1
Southampton 0 v Arsenal 2

Lukaku 50/1 To Break Vardy Record

Romelu Lukaku, who has scored in all three starts in an Everton shirt against Newcastle, has bagged in seven consecutive Premier League games and is 50/1 to break the 11 match hot-streak of Jamie Vardy.
Midfield maestro Ross Barkley also scored in that trio of games with the pair helping themselves to seven of the nine goals and bet365 have a market on their combined tally on Boxing Day with three or more priced at 12/1.
2015/16 Romelu Lukaku Premier League Specials

To score in 11 or more consecutive PL games 25/1
To score in 12 or more consecutive PL games 50/1
(Currently on 7 - current run only)

Newcastle v Everton 26th Dec

Combined Lukaku/Barkley Goals v Newcastle (Both must start)
None 11/10 One 13/8 Two 9/2 Three+ 12/1
2015/16 Premier League – To Be Relegated
Yes No
Aston Villa 1/12 7/1
Sunderland 1/6 4/1
Newcastle 6/4 1/2
Norwich 9/4 1/3
Swansea 5/2 2/7
West Brom 11/2 1/9

Last time's predictions

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Barcelona Win 2015 Club World Cup

Barcelona beat River Plate 3-0 on Sunday to win the Club World Cup in Yokohama, Japan. Goals from Leo Messi and a brace from Luis Suarez were enough to see off a brave but limited River Plate side in front of 66,853 supporters at Yokohama International Stadium, the venue for the 2002 World Cup final.

Barcelona Win 2015 Club World Cup, Yokohama, Japan.


Despite constant and noisy support from an estimated 10,000 traveling plans this year's Libertadores winners River Plate from Argentina were never really in the match until a late spell of pressure after the game was all but over.

Messi took his place in the Barcelona lineup after recovering from a kidney complaint which caused him to miss the semi-final win over China's Evergrande and the Argentine opened the scoring in the 36th minute. Luis Suarez's goal in the 49th minute was the goal of the game after a superb ball over the top by Busquets. Suarez completed the scoring after a cross from Neymar in the 68th minute.

Sanfrecce Hiroshima beat ACL Champions Guangzhou Evergrande 2-1 in the warm up game to secure third place in the competition.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Independent Ethics Committee bans Joseph S. Blatter and Michel Platini

Independent Ethics Committee bans Joseph S. Blatter and Michel Platini.

The adjudicatory chamber of the Ethics Committee chaired by Mr Hans‑Joachim Eckert has banned Mr Joseph S. Blatter, President of FIFA, for eight years and Mr Michel Platini, Vice-President and member of the Executive Committee of FIFA and President of UEFA, for eight years from all football-related activities (administrative, sports or any other) on a national and international level. The bans come into force immediately.

The proceedings against Mr Blatter primarily related to a payment of CHF 2,000,000 transferred in February 2011 from FIFA to Mr Platini. Mr Blatter, in his position as President of FIFA, authorised the payment to Mr Platini which had no legal basis in the written agreement signed between both officials on 25 August 1999. Neither in his written statement nor in his personal hearing was Mr Blatter able to demonstrate another legal basis for this payment. His assertion of an oral agreement was determined as not convincing and was rejected by the chamber.

The evidence available to the adjudicatory chamber in the present case was not sufficient to establish, to the extent required, that Mr Blatter sought the execution or omission of an official act from Mr Platini within the meaning of article 21 paragraph 1 of the FIFA Code of Ethics (FCE) (Bribery and corruption). However, the conduct of Mr Blatter towards Mr Platini without a legal basis constituted a breach of article 20 paragraph 1 of the FCE (Offering and accepting gifts and other benefits). Furthermore, Mr Blatter found himself in a situation of conflict of interest, despite which he continued to perform his related duties, failing to disclose said situation and the existence of personal interests linked to his prospective activities, thus violating article 19 paragraphs 1, 2 and 3 of the FCE (Conflicts of interest). By failing to place FIFA’s interests first and abstain from doing anything which could be contrary to FIFA’s interests, Mr Blatter violated his fiduciary duty to FIFA and breached article 15 of the FCE (Loyalty). Mr Blatter’s actions did not show commitment to an ethical attitude, failing to respect all applicable laws and regulations as well as FIFA’s regulatory framework to the extent applicable to him and demonstrating an abusive execution of his position as President of FIFA, hence violating article 13 of the FCE (General rules of conduct).

In consequence, Mr Blatter has been banned for eight years from all football‑related activities and fined CHF 50,000.

The investigation into the case of Mr Blatter was conducted by Mr Robert Torres, member of the investigatory chamber of the Ethics Committee. The investigation resulted in a final report which was submitted to the adjudicatory chamber on 20 November 2015. The adjudicatory chamber opened formal proceedings on 23 November 2015, and the hearing of Mr Blatter took place in Zurich on 17 December 2015.

The proceedings against Mr Platini primarily related to a payment of CHF 2,000,000 that he received in February 2011 from FIFA. The payment to Mr Platini had no legal basis in the written agreement signed between both officials on 25 August 1999. Mr Platini’s assertion of an oral agreement was determined as not convincing and was rejected by the chamber. The evidence available to the adjudicatory chamber in the present case was not sufficient to establish, to the extent required, that Mr Platini obtained the payment for the execution or omission of an official act within the meaning of article 21 paragraph 1 of the FCE (Bribery and corruption). Nevertheless, the conduct of Mr Platini without a legal basis constituted a breach of article 20 paragraph 1 of the FCE (Offering and accepting gifts and other benefits). Furthermore, Mr Platini found himself in a situation of conflict of interest, despite which he continued to perform his related duties, failing to disclose said situation and the existence of personal interests linked to his prospective activities in violation of article 19 paragraphs 1, 2 and 3 of the FCE (Conflicts of interest). By failing to place FIFA’s interests first and abstain from doing anything which could be contrary to FIFA’s interests, Mr Platini also violated his fiduciary duty to FIFA and breached article 15 of the FCE (Loyalty). In addition, Mr Platini failed to act with complete credibility and integrity, showing unawareness of the importance of his duties and concomitant obligations and responsibilities. His actions did not show commitment to an ethical attitude, failing to respect all applicable laws and regulations as well as FIFA’s regulatory framework to the extent applicable to him and demonstrating an abusive execution of his position as Vice-President of FIFA and member of the FIFA Executive Committee, hence violating article 13 of the FCE (General rules of conduct).

In consequence, Mr Platini has been banned for eight years from all football‑related activities and fined CHF 80,000.

The investigation into the case of Mr Platini was conducted by Ms Vanessa Allard, member of the investigatory chamber of the Ethics Committee. The investigation resulted in a final report which was submitted to the adjudicatory chamber on 20 November 2015. The adjudicatory chamber opened formal proceedings on 23 November 2015, and the hearing took place in Zurich on 18 December 2015 in the presence of Mr Platini’s lawyers.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

George's Premiership Predictions December 19 2015

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Chelsea's 2-1 loss to league leaders Leicester in the Monday night game meant the end for Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, as Chelsea's season went from bad to worse with last season's champions now only one point above the drop zone. Guus Hiddink looks set for his second term in charge as caretaker until the end of the season.

Chelsea face Sunderland at home in what is now looking like a six-pointer.

Second place Arsenal take on third place Manchester City at the Emirates, while fourth place Manchester United hope to get back to winning ways at Old Trafford against struggling Norwich. United lost 2-1 away at Bournemouth and were also knocked out of the Champions League at Wolfsburg in their last two games.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Chelsea 1 v Sunderland 0
Everton 2 v Leicester 1
Man Utd 1 v Norwich 0
Southampton 1 v Tottenham 1
Stoke 2 v Crystal Palace 1
West Brom 1 v Bournemouth 0
Newcastle 2 v Aston Villa 1

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Watford 1 v Liverpool 1
Swansea 2 v West Ham 0

Monday, 21 December 2015

Arsenal 1 v Manchester City 2

Pre-season Premier League favourites Chelsea were 1/2000 for a top half finish, but the beleaguered Blues have drifted to 1/5 for such a feat, just 10/3 for a bottom half finish and into 66/1 to be relegated after their ninth defeat of the season at Leicester with bet365.

The flying Foxes are now incredibly into 16/1 to win the title, 15/8 for a top four finish and 1/6 to finish the campaign in front of Chelsea.

Jamie Vardy ended his one game drought on Monday with the hitman now 13/8 to land the Premier League top scorer crown and 5/2 to score 30 or more top flight goals during 2015/16.

2015/16 Premier League Outright E/W ¼ 1,2

Man City 5/4 Arsenal 7/4
Man Utd 9/1 Leicester 16/1
Liverpool 20/1 Chelsea 100/1
2015/16 Premier League – Top 4

Man Utd 1/3 Liverpool Evs
Tottenham 11/8 Leicester 15/8
Chelsea 12/1 Everton 14/1
2015/16 PL – Chelsea Finishing Position

Top Half 1/5 Bottom half 10/3
2015/16 PL – Where Will Chelsea Finish

1st 100/1 2nd 66/1 3rd 50/1 4th 16/1
5th 8/1 6th 11/2 7th+ 1/3

2015/16 PL Match Bet - Who Finishes Higher

Leicester 1/6 Chelsea 4/1

2015/16 PL – Where Will Leicester Finish

1st 16/1 2nd 12/1 3rd 10/1 4th 9/2
5th 4/1 6th 6/1 7th+ 7/4

Soccer - Martinez warns off Stone's suitors

‎Everton manager Roberto Martinez has issued a hands-off warning to any club thinking of making a bid for John Stones in January. The Toffees, who are 7/2 with bet365 for a top six finish this season, fought off interest in the England defender from Chelsea in the summer, turning down several offers from the Premier League champions. The Merseyside outfit also rejected a transfer request from Stones and their persistence has paid off, with the 21-year-old producing a series of fine displays in the heart of Everton's defence. Ahead of the transfer window re-opening, Martinez has reiterated the club's desire to keep hold of Stones until at least the summer. "It's very different (in January). When you are right in the middle of the season I think players understand you can't sell someone if you can't replace him," said Martinez. "We'll never lose anyone in January unless it is somebody who hasn't been playing and we need to find a solution."

Soccer - Fabregas points finger of blame at Chelsea squad

‎Cesc Fabregas believes the Chelsea players should take more responsibility for the club's terrible campaign. The Blues lost for the ninth time in the Premier League this season at Leicester on Monday and are now 100/1 with bet365 to retain their title. After the 2-1 defeat at the King Power Stadium, boss Jose Mourinho claimed he had been "betrayed" by some members of his squad with their performance against the Foxes. Fabregas has now come out in support of his ex-manager, admitting that it is the players who have let the club down this term. "We will all have to take responsibility. If you are a big player and paid like a big player, you must play like a big player and behave like a big player," the 28-year-old said. "I am not saying you can't have a bad season and bad games. We all have big players and small players, but the attitude must be spot on. We must always be at the top of our games, even when it's not and not the behaviour that we are seeing right now from every Chelsea player."

Last time's predictions

Friday, December 11, 2015

George's Premiership Predictions December 12 2015

bet365
The Premier League will soon enter the busy Christmas period with Leicester City on top followed by Arsenal and the two Manchester clubs.

Leaders Leicester face Chelsea in the Monday night game, Arsenal take on bottom club Villa, Manchester City are at home to managerless Swansea while Manchester United travel to the south coast to play Bournemouth. Of the chasing pack, Liverpool play West Brom at Anfield, Spurs are at home to Newcastle and Crystal Palace face Southampton.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Norwich 1 v Everton 1
Crystal Palace 2 v Southampton 1
Man City 3 v Swansea 1
Sunderland 1 v Watford 0
West Ham 1 v Stoke 2
Bournemouth 1 v Man Utd 2

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Aston Villa 1 v Arsenal 2
Liverpool 2 v West Brom 1
Tottenham 2 v Newcastle 0

Monday, 14 December 2015

Leicester 1 v Chelsea 2

Man Utd 10/1 For Europa League & 2/5 To Finish Trophy-Less

Manchester United, who were 1/8 to progress to the Champions League knockout stages after beating CSKA Moscow last month, are 10/1 to win the Europa League after finishing third in Group B.

The Red Devils are 40/1 to meet Liverpool in the Europa League Final in Switzerland and 2/5 to end the campaign without any silverware. bet365 have also priced up their Premier League finishing position with 5th or lower quoted at 11/4.

2015/16 Europa League

Man Utd to win Europa League 10/1
Man Utd v Liverpool final 40/1
Man Utd To Win A Major Trophy During 2015/16

Yes 7/4 No 2/5

2015/16 Premier League – Man Utd Finishing Position
1st 5/1 2nd 10/3 3rd 11/4
4th 9/2 5th+ 11/4

Soccer - Klopp's methods impress Lovren

Croatia international Dejan Lovren is pleased with the progress Liverpool are making under Jurgen Klopp. The former Borussia Dortmund coach only replaced Brendan Rodgers at Anfield two months ago but since then Liverpool have reached the semi-finals of the Capital One Cup, qualified for the last-32 of the Europa League and showed improved form in the Premier League. Former Southampton defender Lovren said: "We have only been working with him a short time and we have already had some good results with him. "With time it will be better. With his methods and his way of working, I don't see how it cannot be better." Liverpool are 10/1 with bet365 to win the Europa League this season.

Soccer - City's progress pleases Pellegrini

Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini is thrilled that his side appears to be on the right track after they came from behind to beat Borussia Monchengladbach 4-2 in the Champions League. The result was enough for City to top their group as Juventus were beaten by Sevilla. City made life difficult for themselves though as, after David Silva had given them the lead, Borussia responded with goals by Julian Korb and Raffael. However, Raheem Sterling scored twice after the interval and Wilfried Bony also got on the scoresheet. Pellegrini said afterwards: "When we had the draw everyone said we had the death group. I said the group was not finished. "The most important thing is to qualify. To avoid the important teams is perfect. I think for Manchester City it is very important to grow every year." Manchester City, 14/1 with bet365 to win the Champions League this season, face Swansea City in the Premier League on Saturday and can be backed at 8/1 to beat the struggling Swansea side 3-0.

Soccer - Van Gaal points to improvements

Louis van Gaal insists Manchester United are moving in the right direction despite their early Champions League exit. United failed to qualify for the last-16 of the competition after losing 3-2 at Wolfsburg on Tuesday and will be playing in the Europa League in the new year. To add to United's woes Chris Smalling looks set to miss Saturday's Premier League game at Bournemouth after picking up a groin problem in the final ten minutes against the Bundesliga outfit. United, 5/1 with bet365 to win the Premier League title outright this season, are 13/2 to beat the Cherries 1-0. Van Gaal said: "The facts say we are better than last year. We went further in the Capital One Cup this season and qualified for the Champions League group. "We have played all these matches and are still in a very good position in the league."

Last time's predictions

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Naked Madeiran Emperor

The Naked Madeiran Emperor.
RONALDO'S LACK OF PERSONALITY STILL DULLS HIS SPARKLE

The world is yours, if you want it enough.

It's a simple idea which has sold a zillion self-help books, metamorphosed into a pseudo-science ('the law of attraction') and been used to justify free-market economics and vindicate the 'The American Way' which Superman defended.

It was also Tony Montana's neon-edged mantra in Scarface, a credo which led him to heaven and hell.

This banal philosophy of feeding desire ad infinitum could well sum up the life of Cristiano Ronaldo, about whom a new biography and documentary film have just been released. He followed his dream so closely and strove for success so hard that poverty on a provincial island proved no obstacle to his race to the top.

He is the king of the football world, smashing every scoring record as he goes. But like the American dream, beneath the façade, grey emptiness looms unerringly into view.

Discussion of Ronaldo's stature as a sporting great is timely as has turned 30 and has probably peaked as a player, although there is no evidence yet of waning powers.

There are persistent rumours Real will cash in on their star before his contract expires in 2018. For now the Madeiran magician still dazzles, but decline is of course inevitable and five years from now he will not be the player he is today. Years of working his body to the limit will take their toll before long.

While the movie, a big-budget bio-pic from the team who made Amy and Senna, pledges to delve deeper than ever into the psyche of the Portuguese superstar, the prolonged hymn to his greatness it sings leaves us feeling we know almost as little as we did before.

Beyond confirming that CR7 leads a hermetically sealed life far from the reaches of the press and is close to his mother, there are slim pickings for the interested observer.

His professional accomplishments are of course outstanding, but is that where the analysis should end? Some say it should and content themselves with worshipping the on-field deeds of their idol, unbothered by what makes them tick.

Ronaldo considers himself the best footballer in the world, as he has repeatedly announced, perhaps the greatest of all time, but the finest sportsmen are men like Muhammad Ali who transcend what they do for a living.

One could argue that private and public life are in the end inseparable and always seep into each other, as shown by troubled stars like George Best, Paul Gascoigne and Diego Maradona.

But frustratingly, for want of substance, we have to content ourselves with judging Ronaldo during the 90 minutes alone.

He won the FIFA Ballon D'Or last season with a colossal 61 goals across all competitions, netting more than one per game. He has scored 453 times in league action and 55 times for Portugal up until now.

Those are amazing tallies, although the top-heavy nature of La Primera probably skew his goalscoring stats. 

Interestingly, last season his right foot beat his left foot 46 goals to nine, which could be used as a mark against him being a complete player. His acceleration, control at speed and quick feet however remain supreme.

Comparisons with Lionel Messi are as inevitable as they are pointless: Real's No.7 and Barça's No.10 are different types of attackers who excel in contrasting formations.

Place them in each other's teams and they would flounder. The only conclusion you could probably draw is that when it comes to the two La Liga idols, Ronaldo is more perspiration to Messi's inspiration.

The Portuguese always looks clean-cut and lean while Messi has passed through podgy phases with lazy hair, while still playing brilliantly. 

Ronaldo's aces are his quick feet and rapid acceleration, where Messi has more creativity on tap every time he puts his head down and dribbles.

The record scorer for Real Madrid is also Portugal's all-time top gunner, but Ronaldo is popularly perceived to have failed at international level, an arena where Diego Maradona excelled.

This impression is unfair, as Portugal do not have a deep player pool and with Ronaldo they have reached the World Cup semi-final and the European Championship final.

Messi has to deal with the same brickbat, but neither would be the first great club player unable to haul an international team of lesser lights alongside them - George Best and George Weah spring to mind for instance.

Ronaldo's biggest minus point when assessing him is off-field. He appears so lacking in anything resembling a deep or engaging personality that one is led to question the intrinsic worth of sporting achievement without the accompanying humanity.

In his defence, using his impoverished childhood as a spur for success may have stripped him of an everyday emotional development. To that end it seems unfair to slate him for being so demonically driven when he has reached the top from much further down than where Messi started.

The Real Madrid star began life in genuine poverty on the island of Madeira, sleeping on the floor of a corrugated shack while his father drank himself into oblivion. 

Even his mother, with whom he now enjoys a genuinely strong bond, tried to forcibly miscarry while pregnant with the future legend.

While such natural handicaps curse many for good, they proved to be stimuli in Ronaldo's head, where a haunting fear of falling back into poverty, unlikely now given the riches he has amassed, has stayed stubbornly present in his consciousness, as it did for Brian Clough.

The apparent arrogance both those football men sprung naturally from their survival-of-the-fittest upbringings.

Ronaldo counting the luxury motors in his garage or asking his friends and ever-present agent Jorge Mendes to remind him he is the best player in the world serve are a means of self-validation.

They are proof for him of the advances he has made all the way from his rotting shack, as well as a testament to a nagging insecurity and a persistent inability to change his outlook.

His self-adoring tendencies in short seem to be a cry for attention from an unwanted child, season after season.

His head is so focused on winning that despite the persistent prodding of the press, he has no wish to stir things up with rivals, any more than he deigns to enlighten us as to the nature of his professional performances.

His most recent widely-reported soundbite, when he claimed that in his own head he was better than Messi, was of little illumination and no lasting importance.

Of course he thinks he is better than the Argentinian. He is the consummately professional sportsman, who always gives the clichéd 110%. Just look at that extraordinarily physique; Ronaldo is a man-machine.

The immaculate skin and accompanying body may well belong to an android, an awkward impression not dismissed by the player's robotic demeanour off-field.

He gives so little away to journalists in Spain that the cameras home in on the smallest facial expressions, usually shakes of the head or tutting as he trots off the pitch after a defeat, but they in themselves are so slight and inexpressive as to reveal next to nothing.

The elongated faux-outrage over the leaked photos from Ronaldo's 30th birthday celebrations in Madrid last year showed how desperate the hacks were for any nugget about his private life; the photos tweeted by the DJ showed nothing more than players singing and laughing over the odd drink and nothing like the sort of antics British players often get up to.

While at Manchester United police dropped rape charges against Ronaldo for lack of evidence after a hotel dalliance with a woman, and he has subsequently dated models, most notably the Russian Irina Shayk, but CR7 goes to such lengths to avoid the paparazzi they are left to invent stories, like the recent crazy one claiming he is dating a gay friend.

Is there anything new to learn about the Real superstar then? Maybe not. When Ronaldo himself says in the movie, "Winning - that is the most important to me. It's as simple as that", such a banal cliché seems to describe perfectly how he thinks: He is an open and shut case.

His aloof and mechanical demeanour might have kept the wolves from his door but the paying public has an understandable expectation of more from their idol than the bolted gate the Portuguese always shows them.

Click on his website and you won’t find him smiling for his millions of fans. Instead you get deathly serious faces in colour set against brooding black and white backgrounds. Ok, we get it, you are a great player.

There comes a point when confidence slips into arrogance and Ronaldo has clearly crossed the line. He was expelled from school aged 14 for throwing a chair at a teacher, an event a mature adult would regret and apologise for in later life. Instead, the millionaire remains unrepentant today from his lofty perch: "He disrespected me," remains his cold assessment.

Aside from his super-agent Mendes, the most important male in his life is his son, and these scenes in the film finally bring out some sorely-needed empathy.

His sole custody of 'Cristianinho', while refusing to name the mother ("I've never told anyone and I never will") remains curious for someone so attached to his own one, but again Ronaldo is not forthcoming, only insisting his boy "will understand 100%" when he comes to telling him why he only knows his father.

In the film he goes on to claim his narcissism is a natural accompaniment to his fame and fortune, which seems trite and inadequate as an excuse.

A shining example of discipline and hard work he surely is, but as a role model he falls short, appearing charmless and obsessed with professional rendition all of the time. Give me a John McEnroe over a Bjorn Borg or an Alex Higgins over a Steve Davis any day.

Perhaps his childhood poverty and alcoholic father, who boozed himself into the grave when Cristiano was 19, are to blame for his emotional isolation, but his entourage of yes-men, hero-worshippers and financial hangers-on now combine, in biographer Guillem Balague's words, "to create the narrative and keep him on his pedestal."

Footballers are rarely blessed with charm or wit of course and the combination of bypassing education while accruing immense wealth so young in life is not the best recipe for a well-rounded character.

The BBC's award of Sports Personality of the Year often seems inappropriate when handed to a person plainly lacking in what most of us understand as embodying that quality.

Footballers who do enlighten or amuse off-field are therefore to be applauded but are not as rare as you might think.

There is the boyishly manic Giovanni Trapattoni, the erudite Clarke Carlisle or the deeply political Brazilians Romario and the late Socrates for instance. 

Or how about spending time with the Gallic charm of David Ginola, the comic faux-arts of Eric Cantona, the ego of Zlatan Ibrahimovic or the mesmeric Brian Clough? It is clear our fan experiences have been that much richer for their colourful personalities.

Compare listening to those vibrant characters to having to sit through an audience with Cristiano Ronaldo or Messi for that matter. Even if a complex personality is too much to demand from a great player, one could at least be pleasant and affable like Gary Lineker.

There is an unwritten obligation if not to be a role model then at least to charm or entertain off-field too, and in this regard the world's best football player (in his own mind at least) manifestly fails to take the crown.

Will fans miss Ronaldo as fondly as they do the charming Pele, who fought his way to the top from an equally impoverished childhood? It is unlikely.

The reviews for the documentary, with which he closely participated, could hardly have been less auspicious:

"A grossly uncritical slice of hagiography," said The Times, "A vulgar vanity project," thought the Radio Times and The Guardian called it "carefully controlled and meticulously sanitised."

Uniquely among British critics, The Independent's Anthony Wonke gave it four out of five stars, calling it "revealing and often surprising" - was he watching the same film?

While Ronaldo's relationship with his son is genuinely touching, that with his father would have been interesting to probe given he still displays a photo of him on his wall, but again the CR7 brand eschews any insight.

It is a shame he did not take this opportunity to reveal the deeper self and unknown sides to his character instead of embarking on a grand PR promo.

'They do their talking on the pitch' remains the usually proffered and lame excuse for a lack of introspection in sport stars. What a pity so many fail to carry on that magic when they leave the field.

Ronaldo remains a fabulously skilful goal machine, paid unimaginable riches as the market demands of its most valuable income stream, and with a flawless body to match.

His gargantuan wealth (an estimated $300 million) and aloofness embody the bloated stardom of modern soccer; a package that earns hundreds of points, millions of replica shirts and billions on the balance sheet, but which is worth far more in price than in value, cursed with an inner poverty no money can cure.

(c) Sean O´Conor & Soccerphile

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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Fifa World Rankings December 2015

FIFA World Fifa Rankings
Fifa's World Rankings for December 2015 were published on Thursday December 3, at FIFA HQ in Zurich, Switzerland.

The Fifa World Rankings are now published on Thursday and not Wednesday as before.

Belgium are still top, followed by losing Copa America and 2014 World Cup finalists Argentina, Spain and 2014 world champions Germany.

The full top ten is Belgium, Argentina, Spain, Germany, Chile, Brazil, Colombia, England and Austria.

Côte d'Ivoire are the top African team in 19th place.

1 Belgium
2 Argentina
3 Spain
4 Germany Portugal
5 Chile
6 Brazil
7 Portugal
8 Colombia
9 England
10 Austria
11 Uruguay
12 Switzerland
13 Ecuador
14 The Netherlands
15 Italy
16 Romania
17 Wales
18 Croatia
19 Côte d'Ivoire
20 Hungary

Full world rankings

Previous Fifa World Rankings

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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Nominees for the FIFA Ballon d’Or 2015

The contenders for this year's FIFA Ballon d'Or Award for the best player of 2015 and for the FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year 2015 Award have been announced.

Leo Messi, one of the nominees for the FIFA Ballon d’Or 2015.


Cristiano Ronaldo.
The nominees for the FIFA Ballon d'Or are: Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal/Real Madrid), Lionel Messi (Argentina/FC Barcelona) and Neymar (Brazil/FC Barcelona). Meanwhile, Carli Lloyd (USA/Houston Dash), Aya Miyama (Japan/Okayama Yunogo Belle), and Célia Šašić (Germany/1. FFC Frankfurt) are the contenders for the women’s award.

Cristiano Ronaldo won the award last year, though Messi is considered the favorite this year.

The candidates for the FIFA World Coach of the Year for Men's Football and FIFA World Coach of the Year for Women’s Football awards have also been announced. They are: Pep Guardiola (Spain/FC Bayern Munich), Luis Enrique Martínez (Spain/FC Barcelona), Jorge Sampaoli (Argentina/Chilean national team) for the FIFA World Coach of the Year for Men’s Football award; and Jill Ellis (USA/USA national team), Mark Sampson (Wales/English national team) and Norio Sasaki (Japan/Japanese national team) for the FIFA World Coach of the Year for Women's Football award.

The three nominees for the FIFA Puskás Award for the "most beautiful goal of the year" were also announced. The three final goals are: Alessandro Florenzi – 16.09.2015, AS Roma – FC Barcelona, UEFA Champions League / Wendell Lira – 11.03.2015, Atletico-GO – Goianesia, Campeonato Goiano (Brazil) / Lionel Messi – 30.05.2015, Athletic Bilbao - FC Barcelona, Copa del Rey (Spain).

All of the awards will be presented at the FIFA Ballon d’Or award ceremony at the Kongresshaus in Zurich on 11 January 2016 during a televised show to be streamed live on FIFA.com and FIFA on YouTube.

For more information about the FIFA Ballon d’Or 2015, including a list of previous winners, please visit www.fifa.com/ballon-dor and www.francefootball.fr.