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Messi wins 5th Ballon d'Or!
OK, I guess we all knew this was coming - but, still, it's Messi! Let's celebrate the world's best player! At the Ballon d'Or awards on Monday in Zurich, Switzerland, Messi beat out finalists Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo to win his FIFTH Ballon d'Or, a record. Ronaldo had won the past two years with Messi finishing second both times, but it was a change in fortunes for Messi this time around, as Ronaldo came in second in voting with Neymar third. It's hard to argue: Messi was the best player in the world in 2015. No question about it, he deserved this award. The Barcelona forward scored a ridiculous 52 goals and assisted a further 26 in 61 games for Barcelona and Argentina in 2015, and did all that while spending two months injured toward the end of the year. He received 41.33% of the votes, compared to 27.76% for Ronaldo and 7.86% for Neymar. He is the unquestioned of a Barcelona team that had one of the most dominant seasons for any club, of all time, in 2015. The Spanish side won Spain's La Liga and Copa del Rey, the UEFA Champions League, the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup. In short, Messi led Barcelona, one of world football's most famous and storied clubs, to arguably their best season ever. How's that for dominant? My favorite Messi moment from the season has to be when he put Bayern Munich defender Jerome Boateng - who, for my money, is a top 5 center-half in his own right - on the FLOOR during the Champions League final with a ridiculous shimmy move. He humiliated one of the world's best defenders and made it look easy, as he always does. He had so many world-class moments this season, and there was really no question for me that he was the world's best. The only remaining question is: is Messi the best of all time? That's a debate for another time, I think. Congrats also to Neymar, the world's most exciting young player. He is showing that he was worth everything it took for Barcelona to bring him to the team and is making a case of his own for being the world's best - though he still is behind Messi by almost any account. I love watching the Brazilian kid play, and he's only going to get better in the coming years. This could be a sign of the decline of Cristiano Ronaldo, who is getting up there in age. He had a great season but doesn't seem to be the same player he was a few years ago. He had his run, but it's difficult for me to imagine him returning to the quality he showed a few years ago. He simply does not possess the same pace he once did. Any arguments to Messi being the world's best and deserving the award? @InPlainSight @AbdulrahmanSaad @trinityarcangel @thefeels @MarcusJiles @DerekGumtow @havic @yaakattackk @bnzatton @SherzTYCi @krishntejanand @addri @mishthi @andwas @NimishMathur @Sydsocquet @starli @kyleatekwana @BenjiPhilip @Eduardo14 @AshfakEjaaz @EmanueleYagoda
Ballon d'Or shortlist released
This is sure to spark some debate. The Ballon d'Or is the most prestigious individual award in world football, and FIFA has just released its shortlist for the three finalists for the 2015 award. The first one is easy: it's Leo Messi. The truth is, he's almost sure to win it this year, just as he's done three times in the past. He completely dominated 2015 despite being injured for most of September and October. Between his performances with Barcelona and Argentina in the Copa América, there's almost no doubt that he'll be the winner. After that, though it gets complicated. For me, Neymar is the clear second choice. The Brazilian has arguably been the best player in the world since August -- yes, even better than Messi, maybe -- and there's no doubt in my mind that he deserves to be in the top 3. He's an absolute beast and seems to get better with each passing match. When Messi went down for two months, Neymar made it so that Barcelona hardly missed a beat. He's that good. The third choice was Cristiano Ronaldo. He may seem an obvious choice, but I think it was the wrong one. Sure, Ronaldo is still one of the world's top players. But he's showed serious signs of aging, especially in the first stages of this season with Real Madrid. The fact of the matter is that he just hasn't been as good as he used to be, with his goalscoring form rather erratic. I haven't been as impressed with him this year as I was in the past. I would've replaced Ronaldo with Luis Suarez in the shortlist. It may seem crazy to have three Barcelona players in the top 3, but it's because they all deserved it. Suarez paired with Neymar when Messi was injured and has played the best football of his life in the past few months. When the trio up front for Barcelona is healthy, Messi-Neymar-Suarez are completely unstoppable. I think Suarez, who also played well for Uruguay during the Copa América, should have beaten out Ronaldo for the third spot in the Ballon d'Or shortlist. What do you think? Am I crazy? Does it even matter, or should we just accept that Messi will win (again!) and move on? @InPlainSight @AbdulrahmanSaad @trinityarcangel @thefeels @MarcusJiles @DerekGumtow @havic @yaakattackk @bnzatton @SherzTYCi @krishntejanand @addri @mishthi @andwas @NimishMathur @Sydsocquet @starli @kyleatekwana
[London 2012] Brazil name strong Olympic squad for London 2012
Brazil have included forwards Hulk, Neymar and Alexandre Pato in a strong squad for this summer's Olympic Games. Santos' Neymar has nine goals in 18 games for the senior team, while AC Milan's Pato and Porto's Hulk have also impressed for the full side. Hulk is one of three over-aged players along with defenders Marcelo (Real Madrid) and Thiago Silva (AC Milan). Coach Mano Menezes has also picked Manchester United defender Rafael and Tottenham midfielder Sandro. Hulk, 25, has scored three goals for the senior side since making his full debut in 2009 and the coach said he hoped the Porto player's experience would help his side. "He brings a lot of strength to the team," said Menezes. "His experience will be important in big matches, as well as his great ability to be decisive." Menezes has also selected several promising young stars such as Santos midfielder Paulo Henrique Ganso, striker Leandro Damiao and midfielder Oscar (both Internacional) and Sao Paulo midfielder Lucas, all of whom have senior caps to their name. Brazil, who are aiming to win their first Olympic football title, have been drawn in Group C along with Egypt, Belarus and New Zealand. But before that they will play a warm-up friendly against Stuart Pearce's Team GB side at Middlesbrough's Riverside Stadium on 20 July. Goalkeepers: Rafael Cabral (Santos), Neto (Fiorentina) Defenders: Marcelo (Real Madrid), Rafael (Manchester United), Danilo (Porto), Alex Sandro (Porto), Thiago Silva (AC Milan), Juan (Inter Milan), Bruno Uvini (Sao Paulo) Midfielders: Romulo (Vasco da Gama), Ganso (Santos), Oscar (Internacional), Sandro (Tottenham Hotspur), Lucas (Sao Paulo) Forwards: Neymar (Santos), Alexandre Pato (AC Milan), Leandro Damiao (Internacional), Hulk (Porto). Replacements: Marquinhos (Corinthians), Giuliano (Dniepr/UKR), Cassemiro (Sao Paulo), Gabriel (AC Milan/ITA) Source: BBC