How Luka Modric conquered the football world in 2018

Modric won the UEFA Champions League with Real Madrid in May, took the Golden Ball at the World Cup in July, was named Europe’s best player in August, won the FIFA world’s best player award in Septemb

Croatian midfielder Luka Modric capped a ‘golden’ year, winning the Ballon d’Or award on Monday in Monaco, France.



Modric has arguably had the best year of his career, at least as far as accolades are concerned;



Modric won the UEFA Champions League with Real Madrid in May, took the Golden Ball at the World Cup in July and was named Europe’s best player of the year by UEFA in August.



The 33-year-old Croatian also won the FIFA award that recognises the world’s best player, before taking home the prestigious Ballon d’Or award, which had in the past 10 years been shared by Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Argentina’s Lionel Messi.



In this article, we look back at the defining moments of 2018 that defined Modric’s rise to the position of world’s best football year.



May: Modric wins third straight Champions League



In May this year, Spanish club side, Real Madrid defeated Liverpool to win a third consecutive Champions League title.



The unmatched feat etched the club and the players who had dominated Europe for three years in the pages of history. Real Madrid is Europe’s most successful club with 13 titles.



Modric, was an integral part of the team that won the Champions League for Real Madrid in 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018.



July: Modric wins Golden Ball at World Cup



Modric was named the tournament’s best player and given the Golden Ball as a reward for leading the Croatian team to the final of the World Cup for the first time.



Modric beat Belgium’s Eden Hazard and France’s Antoine Griezmann to the top player accolade.



Croatia won all group games, including a famous win over Messi’s Argentina, in which Modric scored a sensational goal. They then overcame Denmark, hosts Russia and England on the way to the final.



While Croatia lost the final (2-4) to France, Modric had made such an impression for his emhatic workrate and the sheer will of the Croatian team to go all the way.



READ MORE: Croatia’s ‘Golden Generation’ has delivered

August: Europe’s Best Player



In August, Modric beat off competition from Ronaldo and Egyptian forward Mohamed Salah, to win the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year for 2017/2018.



He was also named the UEFA Champions League Midfielder of the Season.



“Always available to receive the ball, he is incredibly important to how the champions want to play,” said the UEFA Technical Observers when selecting Modrić in the 2017/18 UEFA Champions League Squad of the Season.



‘‘Though the 32-year-old is neither a prolific goalscorer nor an outright defensive shield, his dynamism and quality in possession set him apart.’‘



September: Modric is World’s Best – FIFA



In September, Ronaldo, Salah and Modric were up against each other agin, this time for the FIFA award for the best footballer of the year.



FIFA highlighted Modric’s wins with Real Madrid including the Champions League, UEFA Super Cup, Spanish Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup, in addition to Russia’s ‘best player of the tournament’ performances.



READ MORE: Modric beats Salah, Ronaldo to Best FIFA Men’s Player 2018

December: Modric is world’s best player – Ballon d’Or



On Monday this week, Modric crowned a fantastic 2018, breaking the duopoly of Ronaldo and Messi at the Ballon d’Or awards.



The award, voted for by journalists and organized by French magazine France Football, has been dominated by Barcelona’s Messi and Ronaldo, who have won all ten awards (five apiece) since Brazillian Kaka won in 2007 while playing for AC Milan.



“It’s a unique feeling. I’m happy proud and honored, I have a lot of emotions right now, it’s hard to describe in words,” said Modric, wearing a tuxedo as he collected the award.



‘4The Ballon d’Or was more than a dream. I simply cannot believe it. For all my career, I have tried to work hard and have persistence. In the tough moments, you have to show your courage and I always said the best things do not come easy. To achieve all this, it has not been easy.’‘



Modric got 753 points followed by Ronaldo on 476, Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann with 414 and Paris St-Germain’s Kylian Mbappe was fourth with 347, ahead of Messi on 280.



ALSO READ: Norway’s Hegerberg wins inaugural Ballon d’Or award celebrating women’s football

Testimonies about Modric



Modric started his professional football career at Croatian side Dinamo Zagreb in 2001, before moving to England in 2008. He played for Tottenham Hotspur for four seasons before moving to Real Madrid in 2012.



Over the years, he has earned the respect and trust of his peers.



“He is a player who has a very different talent, he improves anyone who is around him. It shows when he is not on the field – Madrid are a different team without Luka,” said Croatia team-mate Ivan Rakitić.



“Even if we leave trophies aside, the way he plays and the way he dominates for Real Madrid is impressive,” former Madrid and Croatia midfielder Robert Prosinečki.



“It’s not easy to stop Modrić because he’s such a clever player – he can read the game so well and can play in many different areas,” former Madrid manager José Mourinho.



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Keita, Salah goals help Liverpool beat Salzburg to top UCL Group E

Liverpool beat Salzburg 2-0 to advance as Group E winners, with Salah adding to midfielder Naby Keita’s opener after rounding opposition goalkeeper Cican Stankovic.

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp praised Mohamed Salah for showing self-belief after he spurned several straightforward chances before scoring from a tight angle to help the defending champions reach the Champions League knockout stages on Tuesday.

Liverpool beat Salzburg 2-0 to advance as Group E winners, with Salah adding to midfielder Naby Keita’s opener after rounding opposition goalkeeper Cican Stankovic.

“He played really well but didn’t score in the situations we expect him usually to score, but staying on track and making such a decisive and very difficult finish, that probably says much more about him than all of the other goals he has scored,” said Klopp.

“Staying concentrated, belief in the next moment, it was brilliant. A very, very difficult goal but a sensational finish.”

Salah’s goal was his 11th for Liverpool this season and took him to 20 Champions League goals for the club.

Liverpool next host basement-side Watford in the Premier League on Saturday.

REUTERS

Why has no other African won the Ballon d'Or after George Weah? [Football Planet]

Senegalese Sadio Mane and Egyptian Mohamad Salah who have had an impressive run with Liverpool ranked fourth and fifth respectively, causing heartbreak and disappointment to many of their fans

On this edition of Football Planet, Why has no other African footballer won the Ballon d’Or after George Weah?

After Lionel Messi was crowned winner of the 2019 Ballon d’Or, there’s debate about why it has taken so long for a black African football to win the prestigious prize again.

Senegalese Sadio Mane and Egyptian Mohamad Salah who have had an impressive run with Liverpool ranked fourth and fifth respectively, causing heartbreak and disappointment to many of their fans. Some have said they deserved it more than the eventual winner.

George Weah remains the only black African Ballon d’Or winner.

Also on the program, we take you to the CAF Champions League where favorites Esperance, Etoile du Sahel and TP Mazembe have collected maximum points as their opponents struggle.

africanews

How Anthony Joshua reclaimed his titles in 'Clash On The Dunes' - Report

“It was his (Joshua’s) night, man,” said Ruiz as his six-month reign ended in the 15,000 seat arena on the outskirts of the capital Riyadh.

Britain’s Anthony Joshua beat Andy Ruiz Jr on a unanimous points decision in Saudi Arabia on Sunday to seize back the heavyweight world championship belts he lost to his Mexican-American opponent in a shock upset last June.

The ‘Clash on the Dunes’ in Diriyah was for the IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO titles and Joshua set the pace from the start with a measured masterclass that showed he had learned from the nightmare of New York.

The judges scored the fight 118-110, 118-110 and 119-109 to the 30-year-old Briton.

“It was his night, man,” said Ruiz as his six-month reign ended in the 15,000 seat arena on the outskirts of the capital Riyadh.

The decision to take the fight to Saudi Arabia had been criticised by human rights campaigners but Joshua complimented the hosts and welcomed Ruiz’s suggestion that there should be a third encounter.

“If you heard, we’re going to do it a third,” said the champion.

Ruiz had stopped the previously undefeated Briton in the seventh round at Madison Square Garden but there was to be no second bolt of lightning from the man in the golden gloves and shorts.

He suffered a nasty gash over his left eye early on, with Joshua also bloodied on the brow in the second round to keep the cornermen busy to the end.

As the fight went into the second half, Ruiz was looking frustrated and was warned for illegal blows.

The eighth was more promising, with Joshua momentarily appearing vulnerable, but the Briton took back control and by round 11 had a spring in his step, looking fresh and nimble on his feet while using his height advantage to good effect.

Ruiz knew he needed a knockout but it never came.

Joshua, now with a record of 23 wins and one defeat, had described that June defeat — to a flabby-looking opponent drafted in as a late replacement — as no more than a “minor setback”.

While he made light of it again in victory, he was clearly relieved. “Man, the first time was so nice, I had to do it twice,” he told the crowd.

“I’m used to knocking guys out but last time I realised ‘hang on a minute, I hurt the man and I got caught coming in’. I gave the man his credit. I said to myself I’m going to correct myself and come again.”

Another loss in the early hours of Sunday would have put the 2012 Olympic super-heavyweight champion’s career on the line, with some saying after the last fight that he was finished.

TOO MUCH WEIGHT

Joshua had shown with his preparations, however, that he meant business — stepping into the ring lighter than ever and more than three stones less than Ruiz who had weighed in considerably heavier than in their first showdown.

The contrast between the two men was a talking point before the fight, with one British boxing writer noting that while Joshua sported a six-pack, his opponent appeared to have consumed one.

Ruiz, embraced by Joshua afterwards, said he would do it differently next time. “I think I didn’t prepare it how I should have. I gained too much weight but I don’t want to give no excuses. He won, he boxed me around,” he said.

“If we do the third, I’m going to get in the best shape of my life.” On the undercard, American Michael Hunter and Russian veteran Alexander Povetkin fought to a draw in their WBA heavyweight eliminator.

British heavyweight Dillian ‘The Body Snatcher’ Whyte beat Poland’s former world title challenger Mariusz Wach on a unanimous points decision.

“I’ve been through hell these last couple of months, but we’re here and back,” said the 31-year-old Whyte who was provisionally suspended in July over an irregular urine supply but cleared by the UK Anti-Doping agency on Friday.

REUTERS

London now Paris: Rwanda signs tourism promotion deal with PSG

Under the deal, PSG will promote Rwandan products, while messages promoting Rwanda will be displayed on its women’s team kit and in the club’s stadium.

Rwanda signed a deal on Wednesday with French soccer club Paris St Germain to promote tourism in the east African nation, its second such agreement since last year.

“We invest part of our tourism revenues in strategic collaborations such as the one with Paris St Germain because we understand the positive effect they have on the overall perception of the country globally,” the Rwanda Development Board’s chief executive, Clare Akamanzi, said in a statement after the signing.

Akamanzi did not say how much Rwanda would pay for the deal. A source close to the French club said it was worth between 8 and 10 million euros.

Under the deal, PSG will promote Rwandan products, while messages promoting Rwanda will be displayed on its women’s team kit and in the club’s stadium.

PSG said on Twitter that it had signed a deal “inviting the world to participate in the remarkable transformation of Rwanda”.

Last May, Rwanda signed a sponsorship and tourism promotion deal with the English soccer club Arsenal.

Rwanda earned $380 million from tourism in 2018, the central bank said last month, and was forecast to earn $405 million this year. It expects to earn $800 million by 2024, mainly from conferences and high-end tourists who trek with gorillas.

REUTERS

Messi wins 2019 Ballon D'or award, Mane fourth

Big disappointment for Africa as Sadio Mane fails to win the 2019 Ballon D’or. The trophy was awarded to Lionel Messi. It’s the Argentine’s sixth title.

Africa still waiting for the day an African player will win the Ballon D’or award after George Weah’s success in 1995. The 2019 edition was won by Argentine Lionel Messi. Sadio Mané came a distant fourth.

A whole continent was waiting for Sadio Mané or Mohamed Salah to cherish his dream of a second Golden Ball. But Africa’s hopes was dashed once again on Monday when the trophy was awarded to Lionel Messi during a ceremony held at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, France. It was sixth Golden Ball won by the Barcelona striker, who surpassed his rival Cristiano Ronaldo as the player with the most award.

Worse, despite his exceptional season, Senegalese striker Sadio Mané failed to reach the podium while his Egyptian team-mate in Liverpool, Mohamed Salah, finished in fifth place in a highly talked about ranking. The podium was completed by the Dutchman Virgil Van Dijk and Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo.

The group stage of CAF’s inter club tournaments kicked off over the weekend. First with the Champions League, which started last Saturday. The start of the tournament was marked in particular by the very fine performance of two-time defending champion. Esperance of Tunis, who defeated Raja Casablanca 2-0, and are already leading Group D thanks to a better goal difference ahead of JS Kabily, who also won at home by 1 goal to nil against AS Vita Club of DR Congo.

The group stage of the Confederation Cup also kicked off on Sunday. All the results are to be found on our website. The competition was an opportunity for the coach of Beninese club FC ESAE to outline their objective of participating in the Confederations cup. Egyptian club Pyramids FC are making waves in their maiden appearance in an African inter club competition by beating Enugu Rangers of Nigeria 3-2 at their own back yard