Best Fifa Football Awards 2019: Lionel Messi wins best men’s player of the year

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Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi scored 54 goals in 58 games for Barcelona and Argentina during the 2018-19 season

Barcelona’s Lionel Messi won the best men’s player at the Best Fifa Football Awards in Milan as Juventus’ Cristiano Ronaldo and Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk missed out on the top prize.

It is the sixth time Messi has been voted the world’s best, after wins in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2015.

The 32-year-old Argentine helped Barcelona win La Liga and reach the semi-finals of the Champions League.

United States forward Megan Rapinoe won the best women’s player award.

Klopp gets coach prize ahead of Guardiola and Pochettino

Jurgen Klopp
Jurgen Klopp guided Liverpool to their first Champions League success since 2005 with a 2-0 win over Tottenham

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was named men’s coach of the year after a season in which they beat Tottenham 2-0 to lift the Champions League.

The Reds also finished second in the Premier League with 97 points – the third-highest tally recorded in the competition.

Klopp was nominated for the award along with two other Premier League bosses – Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola and Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino.

“It is great, nobody expected this 20, 10, five, four years ago that I would be standing here,” said Klopp, whose team have won all six league matches at the start of the 2019-20 season.

“We know what an incredible job you [Mauricio Pochettino] did and what Pep did. I have to say thank you to my outstanding club Liverpool FC.

“To the owners thank you, they gave me an incredible team. I have to thank my team – as a coach you can only be as good as your team is. I’m really proud of being manager of such an incredible bunch of players.”

In accepting the award, Klopp announced that he is joining the Common Goal initiative set up by Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata. It means the Reds boss will donate 1% of his salary to the charity, which pledges to “generate social change and improve lives”.

Alisson and Bielsa are also winners

Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson was also a winner as he took the best goalkeeper prize ahead of Manchester City’s Ederson and Barcelona’s Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa won the fair play award after he ordered his team to allow Aston Villa to score an uncontested equaliser during their 1-1 draw in their Championship match in April.

Bielsa’s side had gone ahead controversially when the Villa players stopped as they expected the ball to be kicked out of play when Jonathan Kodjia was injured, before the Argentine intervened.

Eighteen-year-old Daniel Zsori won the Puskas award for the best goal with his spectacular 93rd-minute overhead kick for Debrecen against Ferencvaros, just after he came on as a substitute for his Hungarian league debut in February.

His strike beat Messi’s chip from the edge of the penalty area against Real Betis and Juan Quintero’s powerful 30-yard free-kick for River Plate against Racing Club.

Fifa Fifpro Men’s Team of the Year

BBC

Goalkeeper – Alisson (Liverpool/Brazil)

Defenders – Matthijs de Ligt (Ajax and Juventus/Netherlands), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid/Spain), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool/Netherlands), Marcelo (Real Madrid/Brazil).

Midfielders – Luka Modric (Real Madrid/Croatia), Frenkie de Jong (Ajax and Barcelona/Netherlands), Eden Hazard (Chelsea and Real Madrid/Belgium)

Forwards – Kylian Mbappe (Paris St-Germain/France), Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus/Portugal), Lionel Messi (Barcelona/Argentina)

Federico Bernardeschi celebrates
Federico Bernardeschi (right) celebrates scoring Juventus’ second goal

Juventus took control of the Champions League Group D destiny by brushing aside Bayer Leverkusen in Turin.

For a long while, this was a low-key affair, especially in the period in the first half after Higuain’s 17th-minute opener.

Tah failed to deal with a ball from the right, heading it into the path of Higuain, with the Argentine taking one touch before producing a clinical finish.

Leverkusen, who lost captain Lars Bender to injury in the warm-up, had plenty of the ball, but lacked the guile to unlock the characteristically solid Juve defence.

And, when the hosts were able to counter, the German side suffered bouts of panic at the back, not helped by the eccentricities of goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky.

Still, Hradecky played his part to keep his side in it when Juventus went through the gears in the second half, invigorating the home crowd as they did so.

Twice the Leverkusen keeper denied Ronaldo, first with a low save to a shot from 12 yards out, then by smothering a close-range effort when the Portuguese was left alone in the box.

In between, though, Hradecky was powerless to prevent Bernardeschi netting the second.

After good link-up play between Higuain and Ronaldo, Ronaldo failed to connect with a cut-back from the byeline, only for Bernardeschi to arrive behind him and effectively end the contest.

Wales midfielder Aaron Ramsey arrived as a substitute just before Leverkusen’s last clear chance, when Paulinho’s lob went over onrushing Juve keeper Wojciech Szczesny, but also beyond the bar.

It looked as though Ronaldo would end the evening frustrated, only for the prolific frontman to find space between Leverkusen defenders, latching on to a through ball and finishing through the legs of Hradecky.

Red Sox reinstate Wright after 80-game ban

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The Boston Red Sox have reinstated right-hander Steven Wright the team announced.

The 34-year-old received an 80-game suspension on March 6 after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance during an offseason test.

He lost his appeal and he is ineligible to play in any postseason games this year.

In January, Wright and the Red Sox agreed to a one-year contract for $1,375,000, a raise of $275,000, in a deal that avoided arbitration.

Wright was 3-1 last season with a 2.68 ERA in 53.2 innings pitched for the World Series champions.

The team also announced that right-hander Nathan Eovaldi was moved to the 60-day injured list. The 29-year-old was originally put on the 10-day IL with a loose body in his right elbow on April 20, retroactive to April 18.

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